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This is the last Roundup I’ve attended.  Here’s another shot from the swim platform, where I’m flat on my belly. That’s Mike Byrnes, last year’s “old man of the sea” at the portside of the wheelhouse.

Downbound in the Federal lock, it’s Waterford, Governor Cleveland, and Tender #3.

 

On the northbound trip, the two smaller tugs fell in alongside Grand Erie.  Grand Erie is a 1951 build that first worked for the USACE in the Mississippi system.

Tug Buffalo heads for its berth beyond Pennsy 399 and Lehigh Valley #79, where

David Sharps bugle greets each vessel as it passes.

 

Lisa Ann was a newcomer that year, I believe.  She was built at Marine Inland Fabricators, where the “new” canal tugs like Port Jackson have also been built.

Another newbie in 2015 was Solar Sal, a solar powered newbuild that actually transported cargo later in the season.  Like Ceres the year before, these are prototypes, and  like Ceres, Solar Sal transported this cargo.

Ever so salty, it’s Ben Grudinskas, captain and builder of Atlantic Hunter.

Here Atlantic Hunter faces off against the mighty Tender #3.  By the way, Tender #3 is 43′ x 10′ and came off the ways in 1926!!  1926 . . . . 94 years ago.

It’s currently powered by a 220 hp Detroit Diesel.

In closing, the land activities include line toss, open to all comers, but won by the pros. I failed at the 15′ mark.

And I’ve not attended the Roundup since 2015, but unless I’m employed and on duty, I hope to make the 2021.

 

The 2010 post had a photo from 2009, so let me start this one with one from 2010.  This photo made the cover of a NYS Restoration publication devoted to boats, but I lent my copy to someone and it’s never returned.  If you know the publication, please let me know.

OK, let’s see one more from 2010, taken from the same bridge, but closer to the bank and less zoomed.  Lots of folks come to these Roundups, but the number of working boats that can get there is decreasing because of increasing air draft and the inflexible 112th Street bridge, which also wiped out the viability of Matton shipyard.

The Roundup always begins with a parade, and that used to be always (in my times there) led by Urger.

Cornell and spawn named Augie waited on the wall in Troy.

Buffalo is now in Buffalo, and in less good condition. Here‘s more info on her.  She’s 53′ x 16’ and worked for the Barge Canal from 1916 until 1973.  Originally steam, she was repowered after WW2.  See her engine, a Cooper Bessemer, running here back in 2007.

Wendy B was the show stealer in 2010.  She looked good and no one I spoke with knew where she’d come from.  She’s a 1940-build by Russel Brothers of Owen Sound ON, originally a steam tug called Lynn B. More info is here but you have to scroll.

8th Sea is a staple of the Roundup, probably has been since the beginning. She was built in 1953 at ST 2050 by American Electric Welding. That makes her a sister to ST 2062, now in the sixth boro as Robbins Reef, seen here if you scroll.  Here‘s a tug44 description of tug and captain.

Small can still be salty, especially with this innovative propulsion . . . . Little Toot.

As I said, one of the traditions of the Roundup is that Urger leads the way.  Here, above the federal lock, the boats muster. And traditions are important.

The active commercial boats line up at the wall nearest the Hudson River, but when a job needs doing, they head out.

Since the Roundup happens just below lock E-2 of the Erie Canal, the thoroughfare for the Great Loop,  it’s not uncommon to see some long distance boats pass by.  All I know about Merluza is that it’s the Spanish word for hake.

What happened to 2011 you may ask?  Irene happened and the Roundup was cancelled.   We’re indebted to tug44 for documenting the damage of that hurricane in the Mohawk Valley.

All photos, unless otherwise attributed, WVD.

 

 

Many thanks to Josh Watts for sending along these photos taken in western Monroe County, at Adams Basin.  You may recall that Adams Basin has appeared here before in the westbound end of the virtual Erie Canal tour.  Sure enough there was an Adams involved . . . way back at the time the first canal iteration was dug.

Joncaire?

Messieurs les Joncaires established themselves in what is now Buffalo, back before the Revolution.

Canal tug Joncaire appeared here once before a little over a year ago, along with DonJon tug Rebecca Ann;  in that photo, Joncaire is half blue and half red.   The Adams Basin lift bridge is one of 16 in the NYS Canals systems.

Joncaire used to be all red, as in this photo below from about four years ago, when it was on the Buffalo River and still painted in NYPA red.

In close proximity to Joncaire was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the new 25′ tugs that have been coming into the NYS Canals system since 2018.

 

Gradall #4  was tied up there also, with

an unnamed (not yet named) small tug alongside.

Here’s the first new one I saw back in August 2018;  I believe this one has since been named Port Jackson.

Many thanks to Josh for sending along these photo;  Future Port Jackson and the red Joncaire are mine.

The first installment of this title can be seen here.

The Canal has likely been called lots of things, but exotic might never have been used.  But I would argue that it is just exactly that.

Thanks to Peggy Huckel for the top three photos here, six more or less anachronistic rowers of an 18th-century bateau (bah TOW) on a mission.  If you look closely at the second rower from the bow, red shirt and white 21st-century hat, he’s the person who typically takes most photos on this blog.  Our mission?

. . .  To meet this lodya, Pilgrim,  built on the shores of the Onega Sea. It sailed here from the White Sea Canal!  You saw photos of it before in this post from last month, and I won’t duplicate all the info from there. Here you can follow Pilgrim‘s own website in English.

Our mission failed in that Pilgrim‘s arrival happened after our bateau returned to its 18th century port.  But . . .

to me it was important to wait for them.

 

 

Lock E-8 seemed a good place.

If you’re reading this today and find yourself west of lock E-17 . . . you may see them.  And if your Russian is better than mine, you might say “добро пожаловать на наш канал,”  which sounds like “dobro pozhalovat’ na nash kanal.”  In our current toxic political state of affairs, creative anachronists doing a global circumnavigation like this re-enacting another time, they have my respect.  In fact, I’d love to know what reception US re-enactment sailors would get in the White Sea Canal.

 

 

First three photos, thanks to Peggy Huckel. The last ones by yours truly, the second rower from the bow, red shirt and white 21st-century hat, trying unsuccessfully to pass himself off in that outfit as a time traveling bosloper.

Other exotic vessels through the Canal have included the following:  Bounty, a solar Ra, Draken Harald “Fairhair,” the current Oliver Hazard Perry, Hōkūle‘a, Sequoia, Royaliste, Wards Island,  . . .  please help me add to this list.  Some more photos are here.

If you’re reading this while traveling through the canal, check out my virtual guide.

Please, Lord, no . . . Day-Peckinpaugh has not been put out to pasture, I hope . . .

“Out to pasture or not,” as Craig said, soon someone will have to start mowing the grass around her hull.  Maybe green goats can help?  This photo was taken between locks E-2 and E-3 a week or two ago.

Here’s the Erie Canal between E-28A and E-28B. In normal seasons, by this time (photo taken in late May) the water would be from top of riprap to top of riprap on the other side.  I hope to hike it, in search of treasure, evidence, or  . . . just plain junk.

Here, looking west, is the top of the Lyons dry dock to the left and the top of E-28A to the right.  For a photo of DonJon tug Rebecca Ann on that wall between the dry dock and the lock, click here.  I took that photo August 2019.

This is a great place to catch walleye . . . or was.  That’s lock E-27 to the left.

Right near this bridge, I got a photo of a buck swimming across the canal just ahead of the tugboat here.

So why is there no water over the spillway here?  Why are the levels so low in the other photos in this post?  The canal was de-watered at the end of the last season.  This is done each winter so that maintenance and repair can be done in the winter.  That was ongoing last winter until mid-March when the state classified  canal workers as non-essential.  All work stopped until very recently.  So all disassembly that happened last winter is now late in being reassembled.

Until the canal gets re-watered, it’ll make for some interesting hiking.

 

Many thanks to Craig Williams and Bob Stopper for these photos.

And if you’ve not yet watched the Turnstile Tours talk I did back on May 26, have a watch here.  It’ll take about an hour. That’ll be in lieu of blog posts the next days, weeks . . . however long this retreat takes.  I’ll be back . . .

 

On the 2020 calendar, the top right photo shows a shore fisherman, a small fishing boat, a tug, and a tanker.    The 2013 and 49,999 dwt tanker, Elandra Sea, as of this morning is in the Java Sea, likely almost as far from the sixth boro as you can get.  The tug escorting her in is Capt. Brian A. McAllister.   It turns out that was the only photo I took of that vessel, because of the fisherman, small boat, and industrial vessels and setting.

What I was really there for that morning was the mothership of Sandy Hook Pilots, New York No. 1, the current one as the new one is being created.  It seemed to be an event happening on the after deck. Surprisingly, I believe I’ve never posted this shot until now.

Upper left on the June 2020 page is Helen Laraway; seconds before I took the photo chosen for the calendar, she passed this this container ship E. R. Montecito, escorted in by  James D.

The 2004 and 7544teu container ship is currently in the Malacca Strait, heading for Durban SA, and carries a new name. . . GSL Grania.  I cherish info like this, reinforcing the fact that the sixth boro is but a tiny place on a planet of countless coastlines.

Assisting her in were James D, JRT, and Margaret.

The lower photo on the calendar was taken in the Mohawk Valley, lock E-13, easily accessed via the westbound lanes of the NYS Thruway.  Grande Caribe was Chicago bound.  For more info on E-13, click here.

As she departed the lock, she passed one of the newest tugboats on the Erie Canal, Port Jackson, named for the part of Amsterdam NY  on the south side of the river.    It turns out that the family of the namesake of Port Jackson moved west and distinguished himself.   The barge attached to Port Jackson no doubt has an identified; I wish I knew it and its history, given the riveted hull.

The next shot after the one on the calendar shows the 183′ x 40′ Grande Caribe shrinking as it juxtaposes with the ridge that makes up the Noses.   Grande Caribe is currently in Warren RI, as Blount Small Ships Adventures has decided that in the wake of COVID, it’s better to use 2020 to plan for 2021.   So, neither of the Grande vessels will be transiting the canal this year.  Given the virus, I’ve planed some gallivants, but as is true for everyone, much of that is on hold.  I’m free to gallivant now, but my sense of responsibility says I stay put and see this all as opportunity to craft a different path.

All photos, WVD, who is working his way through his library again.  Last week it was Pieces of the Frame and Uncommon Carriers.  I’m currently re-reading The Night Inspector, historical novel by Frederick Busch, on the exploits in post-Civil War New York featuring a mask-wearing disfigured wounded vet who worked as a sniper in the Civil War, and his friend M, who is none other than Herman Melville, the washed up writer who currently works in the harbor as a night inspector, aka a deputy inspector of Customs who would row out to any ships arriving inport in the dark hours and waiting until morning to clear customs. Here‘s another review.

I’ve also discovered the many videos of Tim B at Sea on youtube.  Interesting stuff . . .  answers to questions you’ve not even considered yet in some cases.

May 2010 . . . I took my first trip to see the thrills of the southern Arthur Kill, thanks to Bonnie.  Back then the hull of Astoria (1925-1967 on the East River Line) was still there. Since then, I believe it’s been removed  . . . said to be an eyesore.  !@#$?!!  Here’s more from that paddling trip.  Keansburg Steamboat Company operated it until it ended up here. If I read The Boats We Rode, Roberts & Gillespie, p.13) right, I’m wondering why it spent so many years before being broken up. And why isn’t it listed here?

ABC-1 was hauled out back that month. I know some of you are happy to see what she looks like below the waterline.

OSG Vision was new, and spent some time at the Bayonne shipyard. Here she’s nose-to-nose with Horizon Discovery.

I recall vividly this spectacular spring morning before work . . . Irish Sea went by pushing DBL 103, passing NYK Rigel at Howland Hook.  Mornings like that tempted me to skip work.

I’m not sure where this boat is today, but I did manage to get close-ups out of the water here, three and a half years later.

Heather M II here passed NYK Rigel.  I’ve never seen Heather M since, I believe, but she has classy lines and a great bow pudding.

Colleen was still in salt water back then.  I’m not sure she ever thawed out after a late December transit to Lake Michigan six years later.

Janice Ann, here pushing RTC 28, was still around here.  If you want to read about life aboard Janice Ann, I did a review of a book written by one of her captains here.

Niz C. Gisclair was an exotic in town, likely here working on a dredging job.  She has a Marquette logo on her stack.

Sorry about the backlighting here, but it’s Allied’s Falcon in the Kills. She has since appeared on this blog as Carolina Coast.

And finally .  .  . a sad shot of sister ship of Day-Peckinpaugh, launched as Interwaterways 101.  The vessel below was launched two months later as Interwaterways 105, and from 1936 until 1976 operated as Michigan. She’s languished in the AK for decades, possibly since 1976.  She’s an Eriemax, tailored to the dimensions of the Barge Canal locks, built in Duluth 99 years ago!

Here’s the same vessel on the Erie Canal, date and photographer unknown.

Yup . . . after 18 days of virtual Erie Canal touring, I needed to sneak another Erie Canal pic in here.

All photos except the last one by WVD.

 

Three Rivers Junction, where the Seneca meets the Oneida, forming the Oswego, it’s got to be right around that bend.

At Three Rivers we sail into our own wake;  we’ve performed the ouroboros.  There’s just this sign, which we saw on leg 9 of the earlier virtual tour.  No pier, no quay, no wharf, no concession stand . . . no place or reason to stop. Different groups of the Haudenosaunee may have had their names for this convergence, but I’ve not learned any.  The inn that was here, off the left side, has never been replaced.

If we turn north here, we return to Oswego.  If we turn east, we head for Waterford.  I know a boat currently in the Pacific that was right here coming from Lake Erie/Buffalo seven years ago, and turned east here.  Arriving from Lake Erie, about 200 miles back, meant getting lowered 200.’  From here to Waterford means about 160 miles, but we have to be raised about 60,’ and then lowered about 400.’  Quo vadis?

This is the end of the line. Thanks for coming on the virtual tour.

I hope you carry away a sense of the beauty and variety of this corridor, which you won’t see from the NYS Thruway or even the Empire State Trail.  Part of my goal was to help virtual travelers see a past, present, and future microcosm of the tangled evolution of this continent.  Conflicts and other events happened here between indigenous peoples, then between Indigenous and European, then Europeans tangled with each other, and finally schisms arose and continue to arise between different descendants of settlers.  Infrastructure innovates and then becomes vestigial, to be left or removed or reimagined and repurposed.  This tremendous although seasonal thoroughfare got built and evolved.  As of 2020, the locks can still be made to accommodate vessels up to 300′ x 43.5′ with water draft to 9′  and air draft 15.6′.  If SC-330 existed, it could still make a real trip from salt water back to Manitowoc WI.  I’ve included photos of some fairly large vessels in these two virtual tours.

I end here at the crossroads (or crossrivers, more accurately) because the waterway is at a fork, a decision point, in its history.  One future is the status quo or better, another future might see it become vestigial, i.e., the end of the line.  Either way, some role evolves.  Here‘s a description of the state’s ideas just four months ago, although given Covid-19’s appearance, that January 2020 speech seems like years ago.

Some speculate, Article XV of the NYS Constitution notwithstanding,  that we face the Erie Canal’s  disappearance as a thoroughfare.  It DOES cost taxpayer money to operate and maintain even if transiting recreational vessels pay no fees, said to be the case through 2021. Since 2017 recreational boaters have paid no tolls;  before that, fees were very low, especially calculated as a percentage of the value of some of the yachts I’ve seen transiting.  Commercial vessels pay, although the tolls are small compared to those in Panama. Also, the sheer number of recreational boats has declined since a high of 163k in 2002;  in 2018, 71k transited locks/lift bridges.  In that link, this:  “The figures account for each time a boat goes through a lock or under a lift bridge, not the actual number of boats. If a boat travels through several locks, it would be counted as locking through each time. The numbers also do not account for boaters who only travel locally and do not go through a lock. A large percentage of boating traffic falls into this category.”   I’d love the be able to unpack those numbers further.

If  tolls cover 5% of the budget,  remaining 95% … a lot of money … needs to come from somewhere else.

This navigation season would normally have begun next week around May 15.  That will not and can not happen this year, a direct result of NY-on-pause policies implemented to combat Covid-19 spread, and I support those policies.  But canal maintenance projects that involved draining  (de-watering) sections of the canal (remember guard gates and moveable dams?) and disassembling some locks, severing the canal,  are not finished. But what if the canal never opens as a thoroughfare at all in 2020?  In May 7, 2020 Buffalo News‘ Thomas J. Prohaska reports that eighteen legislators from canal communities across the state have written NYPA calling for full opening this season of the thoroughfare.  It would be the first time that it has not opened since 1825.  It’s undeniable that March and April 2020 for New Yorkers as well as folks in the rest of the US and the world have been unprecedented. Just earlier this week in central NY a hot spot appeared among construction and agriculture workers.  But we will go back to the way things were, right?  Recent special funding stemming from Re-Imagine the Canal focus, though, seems to be going to non-navigational projects, ones that look at the water rather than ones that enhance the thoroughfare.  To be fair, the strategy seems to be to increase reasons to come to the water in hopes that this will increase usage of the water, the locks, and the lift bridges.

Will this be the 1918 canal in 2118 or sooner, ruins in a countryside park, places to make people reflect on their mortality?

Will it be sublime views of nature reclaiming its space?  There’s intermittent water but no thoroughfare, a severed waterway, and eventually

it’s gone, reborn or devolved into a gully or a bog.

We choose.  We have voices. We have fantastic 21st century writing, communication tools to speak to “deciders.”

These posts have been my individual effort during the “Covid-19 pause” to share a draft of a project I had imagined would involve augmented reality.  This has been my way to stay indoors and busy during this unprecedented time.  Many of you have helped over the years, have shaped my perception and understanding on this place.  You know who you are and I thank you.

If you’re interested in learning more about this waterway, consider joining the Canal Society of New York, an organization that’s existed since 1956, and holds yearly conferences and field trips along the waterway.  Their website has lots of information and many useful links.

If you want more detail about the canal from Eriecanalway.org‘s application to the US Dept of the Interior/National Park Service in reference to the New York State Barge Canal Historic District, click here and start in section 7.

I plead guilty to multiloquium here, so let me end with a set of my photos I’ve taken along the Erie Canal, a treasured thoroughfare as much now as in 1825.

Dancing by the river,

skimming through the system,

looping together,

paddling as far as you want,

transiting from seas to inland sea,

waiting timeless bateaux ,

max’ing the dimensions

solo shelling,

Hudson boat getting raised at lock E-17,

Canadian boat heading for the St. Lawrence,

awaiting passengers to summit the thoroughfare,

stopping for regional treats,

exploring the middle of the thoroughfare,

using minimalist power,

repositioning delivery,

mustering,

returning from a tow,

locking through at season’s start,

fishing in the shade,

frolicking on fantasy fiesta floats,

simply yachting,

squeezing through and under and above,

bringing tools to a job,

rowing a home-built,

locking Urger through for at least the 10,000th time,

raising money from Buffalo to Burlington VT,

[your tour guide] tending line . . .

the air guides standing vigil, and

the misunderstood “monsters” preparing to plumb the depths of the canal, just some of the things that happen here.  This last photo is for TIB, who wanted to know.

 

 

 

 

How we got here from Montezuma can be seen here on a map from the DEC.  Sorry, but I have no pics of Cross Lake, boyhood home area of Hiawatha, but not H. W. Longfellow’s version.

Lock E-24, the only lock we transit in this last leg of the trip, is the pride and joy of Baldwinsville.  In the photo below, the Budweiser sign middle top is near Bud Light Amphitheater on Paper Mill Island.    For the source of the photo and the story below, click anywhere on the photo.  Baldwinsville is a village in the towns* of Van Buren and  Lysander, one of the locations within the Central NY Military Tract, areas of land used to compensate soldiers who’d served in the Revolution.  Thanks to a Robert Harpur, a classics-trained clerk in the Surveyor’s General’s office, these locations to this day carry “weighty” names, fairly common in NYS in general. Imagine growing up in Carthage, Corinth, or Ithaca NY.  More on Lysander, the town and not the Spartan admiralhere.

*The boundary lines for towns, villages, and hamlets are confusing.

A short distance out of town is this rail bridge.  By its location, I’d say it dates from the Syracuse, Lakeside, and Baldwinsville RR, then later the Syracuse, Lakeshore and Northern, but that discontinued service in 1931.  Has it been used since?

The Seneca River, flowing through the NW outskirts of Syracuse, is heavily settled.  You will see a lot of boats, some with only a past and

others with a buoyant future.

Again, many people crossing bridges, like this one E-73 marked at NY 370 Cold Springs, might have no idea what waters and what artwork can be found beneath.

This Sears Oil terminal (not associated with the Richard Sears of the department store) I think has been torn down, but someone needs to confirm that.  The structural dolphins along the left bank are again vestiges of the use of the Canal for distribution of essential materials.

Limitations to the principle that “you are responsible for your wake” were illustrated here.  You slow down if you see someone fishing or canoeing or docked boats.  See the ducks?  Sure, but you don’t slow down for them.

See the hunters above?  We didn’t at first because of their camouflage.  Yup . . . they got waked.  You won’t slow down if camouflage succeeds.

Later, we saw another group of hunters, less well camouflaged and our watch tuned to the possibility that stealthy hunters were present, and they were not waked.

Ditto my comment of earlier about bridges from above and from below.  This is the Route 31 bridge in Belgium NY, a hamlet in the town of Clay.

We pass part of the Docks by Dom fleet.

The Erie Canal, looking west, goes back to the right.  The waterway to the left in the Onondaga Lake Outlet, connecting the Canal to Onondaga Lake and Syracuse, where the Inner Harbor once had a Syracuse Terminal with boat-building facilities.  In fact, the tug Syracuse (seen at the beginning of this post) and the tug Reliable (now a reef near Long Island) were built there.

In 1919 a Greenport NY-built, US Navy vessel,  Submarine Chaser 245, which had served in the Atlantic, Med, and Adriatic was making a victory tour of US coastal and inner coastal cities.  After stopping in Plattsburgh, Schenectady and Rome, plans were made for a stop in Syracuse. At the time Plattsburgh had a population of 11k, Schenectady … about 90k, and Rome … 25k.  Syracuse had 170k.  All was great until SC-245 passed through the Outlet (above) into Onondaga Lake, crew were overwhelmed by the stench of sewage, etc, and beat a hasty retreat all the way to Buffalo.  Battle, as attested by the three “kill” stars on the SC’s stack, had not caused these vets to flee;  pollution, however, did.  Can you imagine the stories these vets told the rest of their lives, crossing the Atlantic, fighting the Austrians, overcoming all adversity, only to be defeated by Syracuse Inner Harbor miasma?

This was not the last or first time sub chasers appeared in the Barge Canal.  SC 330 and presumably her sister ships (I can’t confirm this.)  in the distance were built by Burger Boat in Manitowoc WI.  Here they head for a sixth boro-commissioning and then for sea via the Barge Canal.  I’m not sure where in the canal this photo was taken, or what publication it appeared in.  I found it on FB a few months ago.  Maybe someone can help.  I’ve also long searched for a WW1 or WW2 photo showing war materiel passing through the canal, e.g., tanks on barges, other naval vessels, etc.  Anyone have photos?

Here’s evidence they passed:  Section 8 page 51 of this application document addressed to the US Dept of Interior, National Park Service:  “During World War II New York’s Barge Canal allowed Great Lakes shipyards to build and deliver landing craft,tugboats, PT boats, sub chasers, mine sweepers, and other naval vessels – 414 military vessels passed through the canal in 1942 alone. Canal dredges, derrick boats, and tugs worked on construction of Samson Naval Training Station on Seneca Lake and others were assigned to New York Harbor.”

I posted from Syracuse back in 2013, when Honeywell was making a concerted dredging effort to clean up Onondaga Lake, which had been fouled by the salt industry. Why Honeywell?  Read here. A 2009 scientific article on the degradation of the lake, which some considered the most polluted lake in the US, can be read here.  Honeywell has recently sued ExxonMobil and Buckeye to recoup some of their expenses, but I don’t know the outcome of those actions.

A good read on the the lake going from a spa and fishery to toxic abasement and beginning to come back can be read here.  Here’s another on the lake’s lost resorts.

Here‘s an article about the report and follow-up plan.  The Onondaga Nation finds the extent of the cleanup inadequate. Here‘s more on the Ononodaga.

Notice this stately 1875 Syracuse Savings Bank building, now clearly leased by Bank of America.   The left side of the building front Erie Boulevard, which prior to 1918 was the Erie Canal.

The bank is now on the left extreme of the photo.

Ditto here.  More on Syracuse industry here.

As you might have suspected from other boom-to-bust towns and cities along the canal, Syracuse population today is around 140k, compared with its high of 220k in 1950.

But we’re heading for our rendezvous point, and we have a bit farther to reach it.  That and a whole lot of reflection . . . tomorrow.

 

 

Yesterday we ended at a junction in the canal near red number 4 on the map below,  Montezuma NY.  Today we start about 50 miles mostly south at the southern end of Seneca Lake, at the town of Watkins Glen, at the balloon and red number 1.  This map clearly shows the Finger Lakes area.  The names of the lakes reflect the Haudenosaunee heritage, as this was once part of their homeland.  The numbers show the route we will follow back to Three Rivers.  We could have started at the X in Ithaca to get to the Erie Canal, but then we would miss the four locks on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal.  In the 19th century, the Chemung Canal headed south from Watkins Glen, and by 1858, it connected to waterways in Pennsylvania, allowing for transportation of coal into the Erie Canal.   By 1878, however, all traffic ceased, and coal was transported by rail.  Only recently has a systematic survey of sunken canal boats and other vessels on the lake floor begun.  More here.

About halfway up Seneca Lake is a US Navy sonar testing facility I’ve seen only from land, likely from a high point in Sampson State Park .  Recall my caveats that I’ve not traveled much of this waterway.  The Finger Lakes area has a large number of wineries.

At the north end of the lake lies the town of Geneva, near what was once a major Seneca settlement known as Kanadaseaga.  Since 1818, this has been the top end of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, and we’re looking south here.

About five miles down the canal from the lake, we arrive at lock CS-4 in Waterloo.  My very subjective best association with Waterloo is that wagons and then wooden automobile bodies were crafted here.

Seneca Falls is well-known as the location of the 1848 convention that ultimately led to the 19th amendment. Today there’s a NPS Historical Park located in a former knitting mill.  Not so well-known is the town’s association with the 1946 movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.”  The story starts on this bridge, with an event in April 1917 that led to this plaque commemorating Antonio Varacalli‘s sacrifice.

It’s a busy place for their canal fest.

Three very subjective associations:  Seneca Meadows Landfill, aka Mt. Garbage, and please do read that link for lots of superlatives and rankings as well as some innovation;  and Sauders Country Store.

And finally, this image of a notice from the late 1880s, commemorating an enterprising salt water captain who dragged a whale all the way here 132 years ago.  Likely, mules were involved, and I suppose it was on a deck barge.  The farther away from the sea he showed his prize, the less spectators were willing to smell, see, i.e., spectate.

If you’re expecting a falls at Seneca Falls . . .  it’s been gone for over 100 years, even since Van Cleef Lake was created, covering the falls.  The building is Trinity Church.

At the north end of Van Cleef, doubled locks CS-3 and 2,  are located.

Tug Syracuse exits the bottom of CS-2 as a flotilla of kayaks waits to enter to be lifted to Van Cleef.

The waterway between Seneca Lake and the

top of Cayuga Lake is narrow, tree-lined and splendid.  And beyond the trees to the left, marsh.  More on that soon.

At the top end of Cayuga Lake, we approach CS-1.

As I said before, this is a wetland area.  The name of the original inhabitants, the Cayuga, literally means “People of the Great Swamp.”  As is true of the Mohawks and Oneidas, the Cayugas have begun purchasing their land back.

The waterway below CS-1 travels along the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, public land preserving the wetland habitat for the many animals that live there. The link in that previous sentence seems to carefully avoid mentioning glacial Lake Iroquois, mentioned earlier in relation to the Noses.   The white spots on the horizon are trucks on the NYS Thruway, I-90.  Looking directly to the right of the tree, the Erie Canal for a short distance runs parallel to the Interstate, beyond the Interstate.  That’s where the junction at my newly-dubbed Tadadaho Island is and where we’re headed.

This drone shot looks southward back toward the junction, which you can almost see following the Seneca River;  where it takes a 90-degree turn to the right, that’s Tadadaho Island.  In the foreground you notice the remnants of an aqueduct.  If you followed the remnants off to the left, you’d be in Montezuma NY.

Here a tug/barge are about to pass it.  Note the people to the right standing on the aqueduct.

Looking back at it, you can see the arches.  There were 31 arches when it was completed in 1857;  all but 7 were demolished for the construction of the Barge Canal.  More here.

Let’s drop anchor overnight here so that you can check the links and maybe go ashore to a well-preserved lock over 150 years old at Four (yes, 4!)  Canals Park.  An alternative is to go over to the Wildlife Refuge and look for birds.

For drone shots, thanks to Jim Kerins.  Other photos, many thanks to Bob Stopper and Michael Riley, also author of Twelve and a Half Miles:  The Erie Canal in Cayuga County and Bridge Dams on the Mohawk.

There are at least two more installments coming.  To continue this series, I’ll reiterate what I said yesterday:  if you’ve done any part of the NYS Canals–even 10 years ago– and feel like adding here any info or photos, activity or historical context, please contact me.  You can supply photos of the area, activity, constituent, or era . . . Together we’ll collaborate to get that represented.  It could be like this one cruising the Champlain Canal in the 1950s.

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