You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Erie Canal’ category.

Here was the first in this series.  This is a well-painted and lubricated wheel that won’t be seen for a while.  Even you folks who are planning a trip on Erie Canal, you’ll be close and you’ll feel the effects, but you won’t see it.  So watch carefully as  .  .

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the wagon-body valve, the rectangular portion of which measures 7′ X 9′ , gets positioned where it’ll be invisible from now until some winter maintenance season in the future.  The entire valve–with wheels– weighs about 9800 pounds. If you’re standing near the upper door when one of these opens, you see a major whirlpool created by the rush of water through the water tunnel and through the port holes into the lock chamber.

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Bob Stopper took these photos just over two weeks ago.  Looking at them now, with mild spring temperatures in place, this feels like months ago.  The valve is hoisted above the water tunnel and

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guided into position.

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Think about this as you traverse the canal this summer.

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Many thanks to Bob.  Happy spring.   I can’t wait to see what exotic traffic passes through here this summer.  Of course, I’ll be looking for work elsewhere.  Anyone know anyone looking to hire a deckhand, now holding some paper and licenses?

Here are the previous posts by this name.

June 2014 . . . not quite 100 miles west of Albany.

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March 2015 high, dry, and cold maintenance time on Staten Island.

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Same time and place as the first photo above.  Actually leaving lock 19 and headed east.

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Again . . . winter maintenance.

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Outbound Oswego harbor, June 2014.

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And more Staten Island, March 2015.

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Hustling hither and yon along the waterways since 1958, if she could speak,

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I’d love to hear the stories.

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All photos by Will Van Dorp.

You may recall my wondering about a Canal Corp boat I saw last year while I was working on the canal.  Alan Nelson sent the photo below showing the type of vessel while it performed ATON (aids to navigation) service.

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Here’s what Alan wrote:  “It’s a 45’ buoy boat. Designation was “45 BU”. They were built 1957-’62 and in service through the 1980s. Used extensively on inland waters, they were powered by a GM 6-71 main engine and small Onan generator. Max speed approx. 8.5 knots.  Although they had a small galley and berthing area, they weren’t often used for overnight operations, and didn’t have a permanent crew assigned.   They were usually assigned to an ATON team to service small inland buoys and day markers. I ran one on the Delaware River around Philadelphia in the mid-1970s, until we took it up to New York for assignment to Lake Champlain. A slow and long trip, towed by the Coast Guard 65’ Tug Catenary.   The one in the attached photo is numbered 45301-D, the first one built. The one I ran was the 45306-D.”

Below is a further edited photo of the boat I saw.

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And here are some photos by Bob Stopper last month in the dry dock in Lyons.

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Alan and Bob . .  thanks much for your photos and information.

Now if you look closely at the subtitle of this blog, you’ll see a longer phrase there.  It now ends in “gallivants by any and all the crew.”  We are the blog crew . . .  you and me.  I’ve long stated in the “About Tugster” page drop-down just below the header of the Bayonne Bridge that “I like the idea of collaboration and am easy to get along with.”  I am thrilled by the amount of collaboration you all have offered.  So thank and let’s keep group-sourcing this blog together.

 

Summer and fall 2014 this blog posted lots of lock photos, a sample of which is here, but today there’s a treat.  Winter work on the canal requires that the water level be drawn way down for maintenance inside the locks.  Bob Stopper, a regular canal contributor and much more, took these photos inside lock 27, basically a machine that’s worked in the same way for a range of different traffic for over a century.

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To get a sense of what we’re seeing here . . . the “door” at the far end is 300′ away and the width here is 44.’  The “steps” we are looking at are the upper sill.  When Urger would sail into this lock, we needed eight feet of water above that concrete sill . . . or we’d hit with the keel.  In the distance notice the port holes on both sides along the “floor” and the minimum water “scum” lines.

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Here is a close up of the port holes and water lines.

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Here we are behind the port holes in the water tunnel now iced over.  Through here, the lock fills and dumps.

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Now from the top of the lock looking at the same scene:  the “door” is called a mitre gate and again, for scale the lock is 300′ by 44′.  Notice again the water line and the port holes.

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Here we are inside looking back at the sill,  upper mitre gates,  and “ribbon rail” dam that’s been temporarily installed across the canal to do winter maintenance.

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Here from farther outside the ribbon rail dam.  Notice the repainted mitre gate.

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Here’s a close up of the bottom of a mitre gate showing the sill rubber seal and the white oak mitre timbers where the gates meet in canal center, and .

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along each edge there’s a quoin timber attached to needle sill gate.

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These grates are called trash racks at the entrance to water-fill culvert.  In reality, they keep debris like large trees from entering.

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And the is a wagon-body valve in situ on z-rails in a fill culvert.  How large is it?

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I took this photo at lock 2 last summer.  This wagon-body valve was waiting the arrival of a crane for installation deep inside the lock.  My estimate is that each of the wheels is greater than three feet in diameter.  Maybe someone can help confirm that estimate.

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Here’s a view of the lower gates of lock 19 I took in late June 2014.  Lock operators were clearing water-logged tree branches jammed between the bottom of the mitre gate and the sill.  Remember that there’s at least eight feet below their rowboat.

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Much gratitude to Bob Stopper for sharing his photographic journey inside lock 27.  Here, here, and here are links to Bob’s article in three parts from Wayne County Life on this inside out look at a lock.

 

This photo of Doris Joan Moran that has been circulating on FB this morning.  Sorry . . . I wish I knew who gets the credit for this unusual shot.  Anyhow, it reminded me of a post I did five years ago here.

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Here’s a Doris photo I took last week . . . uncoated.

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So one reaction to the cold is to bundle up, grit your teeth, plod on, complain a little more . . .

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But you have to admit, winter in the northern latitudes gives us new senses of hulls on snow bases, or

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levitating above it.

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Here’s roughly the same angle . . . as I took it in September 2012.

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Thanks to Bob Stopper for the photo of tug Syracuse and to Erich Amberger for the winter photo of Wendy B.  The others I took, except for the top photo, and I’d still like to know who took that.

Uh . . . I just mis-read the FB info on the frosted over tugboat above.  It was spelled j-o-a-n, and I transferred that as d-o-r-i-s.  I’m sloppy sometimes.  Maybe I need an editor.

Take a European canal/river barge . . . .  This one was built in 1963 in Moerbeke, Belgium, by Marinus Faasse.  He named it Leja, the portmanteau word for his parents’ names, Lena and Jacob.

Here’s part of the text of an email I received today from Maja Faasse:  “Leja was the second motor barge my parents have built. It is named after our grandparents, Lena and Jacob. Our father, Marinus  … knows every detail.  For about 40 years he made his living on Leja, as did our mother for 34 years after they married. My sisters Leona,  Jaccoline, and I were born and raised on the Leja, and have very good memories and had a very nice childhood on the water. Every vacation from boarding school and most weekends we spent on board. The summer vacations where the best times, 6 weeks of playing and swimming. Our parents had to sell the barge because our mother needed a pair of new knees and recovery wasn’t possible on board, so they had stopped their business with pain in their heart, and sold it to an owner in France, who renamed it Sojo.”

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We were planning a trip to France this spring to go find the barge . . . and go look for it. So we contacted the broker for information where the Sojo could be at that time and wanted to see what is still original and what is new.  But . . .

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then the broker told us that the owner had renamed it Sojourn and moved it from France to the USA. Later on we also found a picture on the Erie Canal taken in May 2013.

Our father just turned 78 years and his biggest wish is to still visit the Sojourn.”

The photos below were taken in October 2014 by Bob Stopper.  They show her being moved by Benjamin Elliot toward her current location in the Lyons.

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Stories like Maja’s move me, and I certainly hope Marinus Faasse gets to visit with his half-century-plus-years creation soon in Lyons, where snow likely covers it.

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Click here and here for photos of some other Dutch barges in the northeastern parts of the US.  There may be more, and if so, I’d love to learn about them.  For some motor barges that traveled from west-to-east on the Atlantic, click here for a post I did four years ago.

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Many thanks to Maja Faasse for writing.  Also, to Bob Stopper who sent the three photos of Sojourn back last fall.  Also, a tip of the hat to Lewis Carroll for coining the portmanteau portmanteau.

The imp in my head wants to mess with the title and permutate this to “tugmotives and locoboats,” and I’m guessing way back when power began to be applied to hulls, there were those who thought they were seeing “loco boats” but I digress.  First, a historical photo to set the context.

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Just east of local 19, here’s Margot pushing a barge underneath the main line.  I don’t know the exact number, but these rails cross over the canal at least a half dozen times between Waterford and Tonawanda.

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As you’ll see in most of the next photos, it’s hard to get a photo of a complete tug and a complete locomotive if you happen to be moving on one of the other.  Difficulty notwithstanding, I kept on trying.

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With a drone I could have gotten the locomotive . . .

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or the rest of the tugboat.

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I know there’s no locomotive in sight, but the boxcars were colorful.

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Here’s an ALCO-built Genesee Valley locomotive, which may have been built at the Schenectady plant, itself once right on the south bank on the Canal.

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We had to wait at the top of lock 19 and my camera was ready, but no trains came.  As soon as we descended and started heading eastward . . . one passed.

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When one passed right near us, of course it was backlit.

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I took this shot from the upper wheelhouse.

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So at the end of the season, I had to conclude this was my loco-tug moneyshot, which had to be taken from neither.

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All photos by Will Van Dorp, whose focus will soon be leaving the canal.  Having said that, part of me wants to get back up there when the water levels are drawn down and the snow covers the ground.   Click here for some history of the relations rail/canal in the first quarter century after the opening of the waterway.  Click here for a basic introduction to the canal levels monitoring from the state hydrologist.

 

Now this could be a productive combo, after all there was a DeWitt Clinton, which was NY’s first locomotive and it ran between two cities at the eastern end of the Erie Canal.

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What does Governor Cleveland have to do with it?

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Well, it just happened to be tied to bollards just west of Lock 14 . . .

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but no bollard will ever stop the frequently passing locomotives and cars .  . .

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All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

I’m working backwards still . . . all photos in this post were taken between October 22 and 28.  M/V Mystere . .  works the Hudson river now, but I’d never seen her before this encounter above lock 7.

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The next three photos were taken just above and just below lock 11 Amsterdam, showing use of small boats on the Canal/Mohawk River for bridge and dam work.  Click here to see what park this bridge footing some day will support.

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The repairs have been necessitated by the flooding of 2011.

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Artania II is the last wooden Matthews, built in 1970 and just restored in Michigan, headed home near lock 14.  Click here for photos of the restoration at E. J. Mertaugh Boat Works, satisfying but it loads slowly.

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Here Artania II passes Governor Cleveland.

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Zooming ahead of us is the largest Sea Ray I’ve ever seen . . . Just Because . . . but I forget the loa’

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This Honeywell boat has probably been working on the dredging of Onandaga Lake, now  declared finished.

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I don’t know the story of this vessel, although at first notice I thought it a sporty very low-slung yacht.

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Lil Joe had been doing bridge inspection earlier in the season, as are

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these guys.  I love this Harcon bucket boat and its hydraulically-actuated outriggers.

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And finally . . . taking advantage of the ambiguity of the word craft, here’s the very definition of a bucolic scene, less than 300 feet from the bed of the original Erie Canal in Lyons.

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More canal craft soon . . . maybe tomorrow.

I’ll terminate this series by identifying a zone that I’d call the “ends of the Canal.”  In other words, even though the canal has these three “ends,” what they have in common is significant enough to group them into a single zone.  At each of the ends, a flight of locks in close proximity accommodates dramatic shift in gradient.  Lock 6–not 9 as is posted to the right–is the top of the flight at the east end, bypassing

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Cohoes Falls. Fred Tug44 documents it here.  In an earlier tugster post, I do it here with the first three photos.

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The double lock in Lockport is the last and westernmost set to move westbound traffic up to the level of Lake Erie.  This level change relates to the well-known Niagara escarpment.

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The photo below was taken inside the lock 34 chamber and

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here we are west bound for Tonawanda and the Niagara River (above the falls) above lock 35.  Here’s Fred’s take on this end of the canal.

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The Oswego is the portion of the NYS Canal system that today accommodates the largest vessels.  The Oswego Canal flows north from the Syracuse area to terminate at Oswego.  Click here for the port of Oswego site.

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In the last mile of so of the Oswego Canal, locks 6 (shown far to the left below) through 8 provide a lift of over 40 feet.

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I still have a few more posts related to the canal, but this has been my attempt to identify my own six idiosyncratic but organic zones of the waterway.  Thanks for sticking with me.

 

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