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I grew up less than 10 miles from this very location, in Wayne County, and having seen the whole system, I’ll suggest that, from the water, Wayne seems the most rural county transited by the canal, and that’s just description, not criticism.  Interesting to me is the fact that familiarity makes it hard for me to identify this area’s tourism appeal.

Tug Seneca, whose distance table we’ve been using, followed us into lock E-28A. In the distance, notice the “abandoned” 1912 tugboat Grouper, the topic of many many posts on this blog.

Below is the same area, from 400′ up and looking east. Note the lock center right and Lyons dry dock to its left in February. That’s Route 31, again, along the right side of the canal.  One of the pieces of equipment long-term (and maybe terminally) in the dry dock is Dipper Dredge No. 3, entered service around 1929 and last operated in 1985.  I’m told that the expertise to operate the unit no longer exists.

Lyons pre-dates the canal, only briefly, and is named for the city in France. It owes some international fame to H. G. Hotchkiss and peppermint essential oil, made there for over 150 years.  At one time, the smell of peppermint wafted over the canal and greeted travelers. More on that story here. A unique feature of the canal corridor through here is the number of houses, built by canal workers, made of cobblestones.  For a list with photos of cobblestone buildings in the immediate area, click here.  Signage on the north bank directs boaters around town and the area.

Let’s take a prompt from those signs and go ashore to

admire both the bucolic splendor and, alongside old Route 31 here in Lock Berlin, stare in disbelief at this ditch. Yes, that’s Clinton’s Ditch!  If you have ancestors who traveled west on the Erie Canal, this is where they floated past.

Off the road just slightly in Black Brook Park are these remnants of lock no. 54 of the Enlarged Canal, i.e., this saw traffic between 1862 and 1918.

I mentioned signage above:  Many murals have been created in Lyons and elsewhere along the canal by organizations like Mural Mania.  See a few Lyons examples here.  Murals help maintain a sense of history.  This one is a work-in-progress (notice the table and chairs in the studio?) painted on large sheets of plywood;  when the time is right, the mural is one of two to be assembled in mosaic form in a location to be disclosed on this blog later.

Another Lyons detail, this time from the Moran archives, of Agnes A. Moran (upper right)  tied up in town in summer 1961.  Many thanks to Chris Williams for a “heads up” on that on.  Click on the photo for the full context, and scroll.

It’s time to get back onto the boat.  Here we’ve passed under the Route 14 bridge.  Note the county courthouse dome in the center of the photo.

More industrial remnants catch our attention;  what looks abandoned now isn’t really, but its current usage differs from its original.

It was built 1900  (or 1903) for the Empire Sugar Beet Company, in season processing 600 tons of beets daily to produce 50 tons of raw sugar.  The beets came from 6000 acres farmed for this purpose locally. No sugar beets have been grown in the county for some time. In the 1940s the factory processed dates brought here by rail and sea from Iraq and Iran, pineapple . .  from Hawaii and the Philippines.

This is the reason one always carries a camera and maintains a sharp lookout.

Traffic on the narrow bridges here reveals what’s going on beyond the wooded banks.

The wooded banks, however, appear to shelter great hideaways, even though there may be a paved road 300′ on the land side.

Traffic . . . again, keep a camera handy, because you never know what you’ll see.  Grand Erie, now a NYS Canals vessel, spent the first part of its life on the Ohio River system.

Have another machine from the inception of this land cut.

Here’s another example of an industrial vestige along the Canal;  until 1989 when the last barge made a delivery, hot asphalt was moved here and through the pipes into the storage tank from a “hot” barge pushed by a tug all the way from Perth Amboy NJ.

Ten miles east of Lyons we arrive in Clyde, a village with a population of about 2000 for over a century.  Clyde Glass Works put the town on the map.  Here’s more on the glassware made here.

What’s not visible from the boat is the proximity of the Enlarged Canal, as seen from this drone photo of the laser-straight “ditch” to the right of the current canal.

Lauraville Landing in Clyde back in summer 2017 saw these boats tied up for an evening, part of the “votetilla,” a parade of boats that transited this part of the canal on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of New York granting women the right to vote.  The 19th amendment was passed two years later.

The bottleneck for folks that travel the canal frequently, this is the infamous Clyde Bridge, aka the E-93 bridge that once carried the many-years-defunct West Shore Railroad.  It blocks passage of any vessel exceeding about 15′ of air draft.  If you’re 16′ and can ballast yourself down without hitting the bottom, there’s hope. Otherwise  . . . Lake Erie is only 130 miles behind you, and you’ll see things you missed as you return, right?  The jackstaff with the yellow “flag” aka jack can also be called a feeler or a tell tale.

In the photo above,  we approach just barely drifting, in case we need to reverse engine to avoid hitting.   Below, I took the photo before I knew exactly what this “grafitti” represented.  Later,

I learned that Blount Small Ships Adventures then known as American Canadian Caribbean Line, used to transit this portion of the canal, and here the owner of the company, Luther Blount, is standing atop the highest deck of Niagara Prince, leaving a record before squeezing through on the way west to Lake Erie.  Photographer unidentified.

Two miles east of here we transit E-26, and then another five miles farther, we get to lock E-25. The small boat just before the lock to the left is called a buoy boat.  You may have seen others earlier in the trip and wondered. In the first decades of the Barge Canal, when traffic moved 24/7 as long as the ice was not too thick, channel buoys had kerosene lamps;  buoy boats carried kerosene tanks to replenish the tanks on the buoys to keep the flame burning.  They are still used as appropriate in the system.

A mile east of  E-25,we’re in the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, and

we come to a junction, shown

more vividly here from a 1981 aerial.  We will overnight here and, rather than heading straight ahead for Syracuse, we’re branching off to the right.  And that triangular island, does it have a name?  If the name is as boring as Junction Island, I think we need a a legend and an intriguing name.  In the absence of one, I’ll call it Tadadaho island, and if you want to learn about this scary local, click here.

Given all the mention of Haudenosaunee names in this series, you might be wondering where “Montezuma” comes from.  Well, a cosmopolitan NYC physician named Peter Clark with a commercial interest in the salt deposits under the marsh there  built a home overlooking the area in 1806.  He considered his home akin to the palace of the Aztec ruler, and therefore chose that name.  It stuck.  I’d love to see a photo of that house.  And salt, that’ll come up again.

At the start of the next post, we’ll virtually transport ourselves 50 miles mostly south to the bottom of Seneca Lake, town of Watkins Glen, and head north across the Lake.  One could do the same trip heading north starting in Ithaca, less than 20 miles to the mostly east from Watkins Glen, but then we’d hit only one lock.  So to Watkins Glen we’ll go.   It’s a nice place, by the way for hiking (last three photos here) and spectating this and more.

Many thanks to Bob Stopper of Lyons for some of these photos and information, Chris for the Moran tug heads-up,  Mark De Cracker for the mural-in-progress, and drone-assisted photos by Jim Kerins.

There are at least three more installments coming.  To continue this series, consider this:  if you’ve done any part of the NYS Canals and feel like adding here, info and photos of something sublime or even that I’ve underrepresented–section, 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.

Here’s a view from the oldest of the fleet–Urger–heading through the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.

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Grand Erie and Tender 4 (?) heading west almost three weeks ago.

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SPS 54 (?) tied up above lock 1 of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal.   By the way . . . SPS expands to “self-propelled scow.”

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Earlier this week, Urger meets Grand Erie near Clyde.

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Seneca in Lyons.   It was built by Electric Boat in 1932, and in 1960, was sold from the USN to Canal Corp.

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Another SPS,

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a derrick boat and a tender.

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Syracuse, a heavily loaded scow, and a derrick boat.

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And finally . . . can you tell by the foliage color?  Urger and buoy boat 109 with external fuel tanks in late August.

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All photos by Will Van Dorp, who recently with one erroneous click, lost about 200 photos.  Ouch and we move on.

 

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