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Last post ended with an aerial photo.  Here’s a higher one of the same area, taken in 1981, for a state agency.  The Oneida River flows from the bottom of the photo.  Notice the tanks below, or east of,  the bridge.  As we pass, notice vestiges of docks and pipes to those tanks, although the tanks are gone.  This has been a crossroads for ages;  Haudenosaunee used it,  and French coureurs de bois and Dutch boslopers passed through here.  The French defended it until General Jeffrey Amherst came through here with 10,000 troops.  After 1763, the British used it, and in fact, Barry St Leger traveled through here twice, before and after his retreat from his siege at Ft. Stanwix.  The British held possession of Fort Ontario in Oswego until the Jay Treaty in 1796, but that’s getting ahead a bit.   James Fenimore Cooper, assigned to Fort Ontario, explored the area, using it later as source material for one of his novels.   Basically, you are looking down at a crossroads from time immemorial.

At the south side of Three Rivers, there’s a park on the point.  Between 1934 and 1973, the Three Rivers Inn nightclub stood, to the right  where the darker trees are, and big-name acts came to play:  Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Pat Boone, and others passed through this crossroads.  Click the link in the previous sentence to read the full list. Remember, this was a time when celebrity still traveled from gig to gig in rail cars.  Entertains would play here for more intimate sets, and some folks from Syracuse, about 15 miles away, would come by boat and tie up.

We’ve now traveled 160 miles since Waterford, not quite half the way to Buffalo.  If we were headed there, we’d turn slightly left and head up the Seneca River.  Next trip planned is from Lake Erie to Buffalo to here.  For now, since our destination is Lake Ontario, we’ll hang a right. At that point we are leaving the Erie Canal per se, and entering the Oswego Canal, another canalized river.  The Oswego Canal has a separate history from the Erie Canal.  The early 1800s saw a plethora of canals built all over what is now the NE US.

A little over a mile down the Oswego, we pass the Lysander Canal Maintenance Yard, likely the newest of six in the system.

About three miles down from Three Rivers Point, we get to the first lock in this system, O-1.   Legend has it that on an island just before Phoenix, French priests in the 18th century took refuge, having fled from the Onondaga Lake area with gold and a brass canon, then left everything behind when they feared an attack by natives. To date, no one reports having located the treasure.  Would you report the loot if you found it?

Just north of O-1, there are two unusual single-span lift bridges–only the yellow one still used.

Oswego Canal locks have dams with tainter gates.

If the west side of the river currently looks empty, the photo below show its appearance in 1907, pre-Barge Canal.  Nine years later the mills burned; click here to see the view after the fire.   And if you imagine therefore that the town is named for its rebirth, you would be wrong. Land there was first owned by an Alexander Phoenix.

 

The Oswego River sees a lot of recreational use.

Although you see lots of wildlife in most places along the Canal, these birds are most plentiful here.

Fulton had such a solid industrial and manufacturing base in the 1930s that it was praised in a New York City newspaper headline as “the city the depression forgot.” Unfortunately, things changed later.  The Fulton Nestle plant that had pioneered morsels,  Nestle Quick, and Nestle Crunch, closed in 2003.  Fulton Birds Eye closed in 2011 but reopened in 2014 as K&N Foods.   Miller Brewing, which closed its brewery in 1994, reopened in 2008 as a Sunoco ethanol plant, and in 2019 sold to Attis, a biofuels company.  On my first visit to a bar in Fulton, friends asked me to order Miller; the response to my request was an icy stare and  . . . “We don’t serve that here.”

Hunter Arms is another lost Fulton business.  From 1890 and 1950 they built high end shotguns here, had some celebrity clients, and to this day, an annual reunion brings enthusiasts back here.

Two islands with notable names between lock O-2 and O-3 and O-5 in Minetto are called Pathfinder Island (see p. 230 of this guide) and Battle Island, a reference to an ambush by French Captain Devilliers and his force of over 700 Canadians, regulars, and Indians of a column led by British Colonel Bradstreet and his force of 1000 troops in 350 bateaux.  There is no lock O-4;  in construction it was deemed unneeded and the numbers left unchanged.

This building on the east bank referred to as “the tavern” was built by John Van Buren, cousin of the 8th US president,  around 1820. John died the following year, and the property was taken over by his son Jacob.  It served as both family residence and business catering to travelers on the canal.

Just to the north of the “tavern” is “the pillars,” built by Jacob’s brother David in 1847.  Both places are privately owned and not open to the public.

More winding scenic miles later we arrive at the top of O-5 in Minetto,

Not much remains except the hydro-electric plant, but Minetto was a company town, manufacturing cloth from 1879 until 1977.

I’m unsure of attribution for the b/w photos here;  all color photos by Will Van Dorp.  Color drone photo by Jim Kerins.

 

 

 

Seeing a waterway shrunk by the land forms around it like this, I find it miraculous that we can travel it from the ocean to the Great Lakes, but some of you, I know, might be starting to feel claustrophobic.

The drone photo below is taken in Little Falls looking back east toward the the Herkimer home and beyond that the Noses.  As before, you notice three modes of transport paralleling each other.  In the left half of the photo, between the railroad and the state road, you’ll notice remnants of John Pierce Stone Works and the quarry above it.  John Pierce had a number of quarries and a Manhattan contracting company.  The road on the right leads to the NYS Thruway.

Bringing the camera down from the drone to human height and swiveling 180 degrees, we look west at the daunting lock E-17 to the left and the Mohawk River to the right heading around Moss Island.  If we followed the river, we would soon be blocked by a falls. It’s called “little” because the drop is not as big as Cohoes Falls, seen earlier near the Flight in Waterford.  Yet, it was big enough that the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company built a short canal around it in the 1790s.

Once inside the lock and looking back, it’s fun the watch the guillotine door descend, as the counterweight, connected by a huge chain, rise. It’s the only lock in the system with such a lower “gate.”  Any guesses on the weights of gate and counterweight?  Answer will be given at the end of this post.

Moss Island often has climbers, as viewed here from the boat,

and even if you’re not a technical climber, you can walk a path up the back side of the cliff to get photos of traffic eastbound  entering and

departing westbound from the top of the lock.

This 1910 photo shows the cliff, the the current lock under construction.  To the right, the location of the previous locks.

Little Falls was the scene of a horrendous train derailment in 1940, attributed to “speed kills.”  A plaque on the north side of the river commemorates this tragedy.

The charming village on the north side of the gorge has seen the population drop from 13,000 in 1920 to fewer than 5000 today.  Now, as in the past, the town is known for cheese.  In fact, the large house that you might see on the ridge high above the town, the Burrell Mansion, was built by David H. Burrell, who invented many devices used by the dairy and cheese industry.

If the building below looks like a freight house, it was built as one.  It’s currently one of eight that have survived of a total of 28 built for cargo transfer in the Barge Canal era.  Currently, Canal Harbor and Rotary Park, west of the village,  has amenities for boaters.  Across the river, some modern industrial buildings belong to Feldmeier Equipment, a world leader in the manufacture of tanks for the dairy, pharmaceutical, and brewing industries.  They grew out of the Burrell’s legacy, and are one of Little Falls largest employers.

Lots of “loopers” transit the Canal, but here’s one of the more unusual craft I’ve seen not so much for what it is than for what it was doing . . . , a vet doing the loop in a kayak as post-Iraq therapy.  Note the yellow decal topside just behind the solar panels behind his cockpit.

Along the way to lock E-18 we follow Jacksonburg Mountain.  First peoples called it Mt. Okwari, or “bear mountain.”  John Jost Herkimer, father of Nicholas,  settled here in 1722, with permission from the local Mohawks, who called him Okwari, because of his imposing size and strength.

Approaching lock E-18, we can clearly see the Mohawk River heading to the right, and the lock leading into another land cut.  The “island” created in between is called Plantation Island Refuge Area.  Clearly, it’s working well as a refuge, since last year as we sailed by, a complacent coyote watched us pass from the safety of his bank.

At the top end of E-18, you can see the green light, signalling that Lil Diamond II was free to enter. Lil Diamond II is one of several boats operated by Erie Canal Cruises, whose dock is several miles west of E-18.

The taller building at the far end of the lock is a power house, i.e., hydro-power generating station.  It’s one of 26 built into the Barge Canal, only a few of which like this one are intact.  Remember that the Barge Canal with its DC electrical equipment predates the grid, so each lock needed its own power generation.

Visible from the river is the 1753 limestone structure referred to as the Fort Herkimer Church.  A walk around the church allows you to see the gun ports in the thick limestone walls.

Herkimer is the base of operations for Erie Canal Cruises.  North of town, there’s a quarry where the public can dig for “Herkimer diamonds,” aka Little Falls diamonds.

Illion is the home of Remington, where an enterprise begun by Eliphalet Remington continues to operate, manufacturing guns, typewriters, bicycles, and sewing machines throughout its 200+ year existence.

Up ahead is lock E-19, where

train traffic finally crosses from the north to the south side of the Canal.

Surprise boat encounters can happen anywhere along the Canal.  One of my bigger surprises was rising to the top of lock E-19 a few years ago and seeing Draken Harald Hårfagre waiting for the lock to clear before heading eastbound.  Vikings!  Eastbound in central New York!  Who knew?    Other unusual vessels that have transited include Hōkūleʻa, Ra, and the presidential yacht Sequoia.  A short account of the latter doing the loop can be read here;  I hope to post about that more in the future. And there must be a thousand more stories I don’t know, would love to hear.

A few miles south of lock E-19 is Balloon Farm, home of  Carl E. and Mary Meyers.  Carl was an inventor of lighter-than-air aircraft, and Mary—also known as Carlotta the Aeronaut—was  an early American aviator who set many flight records before she retired in 1891.

Now the Canal is entirely in a laser-straight  “land cut,” the Mohawk having too many meanders.

This photo is looking NW.  Note the diagonal piece of land rising from the lower right corner.  The waterway above that is the Canal, with the NYS Thruway above that. The wide body of water from the left corner is the Utica Canal Terminal, aka Inner Harbor and the Mohawk meandering off left center.   Getting back to the diagonal piece of land . . . there’s a lattice structure with a red sign atop spelling out UTICA.  This sign seems important because Utica is barely visible from the Canal.  Where the 19th century canal transited Utica, today you find Erie Boulevard.

Just beyond the Utica sign, there’s a lock that leads into Utica Canal Terminal.

Well, the icon may soon be gone, but

it cleverly mimics this sign a few miles to the south atop the Matt Brewing Company, touting the product that made Utica famous, and the beer that was pouring from taps minutes after Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933.  A miracle? 

At the intersection of the Erie and the Chenango Canals, and connected by rail, Utica was well-placed for commerce. Chenango was one of almost a dozen “feeder” canals, referred to as lateral canals, connecting to the Enlarged Erie.

A century ago, 66% of Utica’s workforce were employed in the textile and clothing trade, an industry soon to head south. An interesting profile of the city’s bust and rebirth can be gleaned from this paper.

The sign below in the lobby of the revived Hotel Utica, opened in 1912,  hints at the prestige the city once had.

Stanley Theater is another icon of Utica’s past.  Not much farther south of Genesee Street is the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, with an impressive collection, founded by three generations of the family of Alfred H. Munson.

Before we miss the boat heading west, a few seconds for two more quick details about Utica.  First, you must try Utica greens, one of many food specialties along the Canal.  And second, John Butterfield, a former mayor of the city, is credited with founding both American Express and Wells Fargo.

A few miles west of Aqua Vino on the Canal, we get to lock E-20, here looking east toward the lock off the stern of this 1920s ice breaking tug.

And here’s the info on lock E-17, taken from a plaque on the lock itself.

 

 

 

This post, beginning in the hamlet of Jacksonburg NY,  overlaps a portion of the canal represented in yesterday’s post.  Notice our vessel to the left below;  the cattails beside the road to the road are growing in the original canal bed from 1825.

Our tender ferries folks back from shore excursions.

I believe this is tug Lockport in Herkimer.

Gradall #2 and tug Governor Roosevelt conduct dredging at Illion marina.

 

Tug Seneca undergoes shore work at Lysander.

Juice is generated in Fulton.

 

And as we approach Oswego, a sentinel watches our progress.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who needed to reduce file size to enable this post to load.

 

This post picks up at Illion marina, where Gradall #2 and

a scow and Governor Roosevelt  

worked.

 

A scow and a self-propelled scow waited on the dock while tug Seneca

received attentions.

A fishing kayaker demonstrated multi-multi-tasking skills.

Rebecca Ann waited at the dock.  Madison R assisted with breakwater work.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, between Illion and Oswego.

 

Let’s make this Fonda–current location of Urger— to Marcy, beginning of one of the highest sections of the Canal.

Approaching E-13 westbound, there’s a row of yellow painted bollards . . . starting from lower left here.

Each of those yellow bollards is on a sunken concrete barge. More sunken concrete barges can be seen at E-09.

We encountered lots of traffic . . .

including Dolphin, a

Canadian beaut.

Other traffic included Lil Diamond III and

Roman Holiday. 

At Marcy, Governor Roosevelt and

Erie were in the water, as were two buoy boats not shown.

x

 

 

On May 4, 1928 this “oil-burning” tug was launched at Buffalo Marine Construction Co.  The 1928 price for the 74’1″ x 19’6″ x 8’2″ tug was $44,250, which is (adjusted for inflation) $644,318.82 in 2018 money.  Here are some photos over the few years I’ve followed her.  Starting below, September 2008.

September 2010 here

and here.

October 2013.

June 2014

August 2017.  Yes, she’s a working boat.

Now clearly this is not Cleveland, but her sister Governor Roosevelt.  That is a deep hull.   I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Cleveland hauled out.  According to Michele A. McFee’s A Long Haul, the two Governors were purchased by NYS DPW in the late 1920s to break ice, and proved their worth in the dramatic November 1936 deep freeze.

Thanks to Chris Freeman who put her “birth certificate” on FB this morning and alerted me to this day for ceremony for the Cleveland.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who leaves you with this obscure story of Cleveland (later POTUS 22 AND 24) getting incarcerated in Medina NY on a suspected “corruption of a minor female” charge . . .  all a mistake.  Read it below:

The photo below is not Lake Ontario; it’s Oneida Lake in the early morning as we outrun a storm.  If my numbers are right, Oneida is about 80′ lower than Rome NY.  Hence, the descent into Lake Ontario, which is another 200′ lower than Oneida.

If you thought we were descending–as a diver–into Ontario . . . well, that would be rewarding, but English is just ambiguous sometimes.  Anyhow, Oneida is big, not great, and that’s alright by me.

E-23 has a very friendly lock master, as do almost all the locks.  They’re happy to chat, especially when an ocean liner like Grande Mariner squeezes through.

To digress and use a photo I took near the east end of the Canal three years ago of GM exiting a lock, behold the ocean liner.

At Three Rivers, we leave the Erie, and enter the Oswego Canal, formed by the confluence of the Oneida and the Onondaga, a canal with a slightly different history.   Before lock O-1, we pass the Syracuse (Canal) Maintenance Shops, located in Lysander, another one of those classical names.

In Phoenix adjacent to O-1, we see a dam with Tainter gates, named for a Wisconsin engineer named Tainter.

Below lock O-1 also there’s a drawbridge.

Just above O-2 in Fulton, Fourth Street and Nestle Avenue cross, but the other side of the Nestle plant looks

like this, after a century of production.  Another former product of Fulton–once called the city the Depression missed–was shotguns.

As evening falls we start the first of the descents in Oswego, O-6.

O-8 is the end, and marked by tug Syracuse.

In the morning, we head out early, but not as early as folks fishing, taking part in enterprise valued at over $110 million.

There’s the lighthouse in Sodus, where I learned to swim, in spite of my best efforts to resist it.

Rochester looms beyond the ridge, and we

choose to hold up some hours in the port.

As we tie up at the dock, a charter boat from the Canadian side–we do share the Lake–heads back out.

All photos and focus and any errors attributable to Will Van Dorp.  From here and the rest of the trip, we climb again.

 

 

Here are the previous posts in this series.

What’s unique about these photos is the season, the gray of November and absence of colors in the trees set off by the vibrant paint on Erie,

ft1

 

ft2

the two Governors shown together here so that you can see the difference in paint scheme–Cleveland and

ft6

Roosevelt, which different even

ft3

in nameboard.

ft4

Waterford, I’d guess, got too close to a dredge pumping operation.

ft5

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

I’m reprising this from Troy, and it’s Lisa Ann.  I believe she’s 2012 built.

rc1

Governor Roosevelt is almost a century older, and wears 1928 on her name board now. This is Marcy NY, an Oneida County town between Utica and Rome.

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Also at Lock E20, here’s a clutch of boats and floats including BB152, an unidentified and in the process of being repainted tender, a dredge barge, and BB 142.

rc3

Tug Erie is there too. Anyone know when tug Erie was built?

rc4

Farther along is 1932 tug Seneca, formerly of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

rc5

Inside the H. Lee White Maritime Museum in Oswego, here’s a model of a Catherine Moran.

rc6

Here’s what the label said, but according to birk’s site, she’s still alive and well under the assumed name of  Sherry D.   Anyone have photos of Sherry D out in the SF Bay area?

rc6b

On the freshwater sea called Lake Ontario, it’s another tugboat from 1928, Karl E. Luedtke.

rc7

Tucked away in Silo City of Buffalo, it’s Daniel Joncaire II, about a year old.

rc8

In the Outer Harbor of Cleveland, it’s 1954 Duluth and fleet mate

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1956 William C. Gaynor.

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And here approaching the south end of the Detroit river, it’s 1982 tug Michigan pushing barge Great Lakes.

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rc10b

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

. . . with some digressions . . .  .  The photo below of the procession leading to the Roundup comes from Jeff Anzevino.

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Digress to the left . . . on the Troy (Lansingburgh) side through the trees is Melville Park and this sign and

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this house.  If you’re looking for a good read about Melville’s later life on the waters off Lower Manhattan, check out this Frederick Busch historical novel.

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Here’s another shot by Jeff, taken from the 112th Street Bridge.  You might recognize the crewman standing beside the wheelhouse port side.  There are many other posts with photos from Jeff, such as this one.

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From Bob Stopper, exiting lock 27, it’s Roosevelt-late 1920s built-and Syracuse-early 1930s built.   Click here for some photos Bob –and others–sent along earlier this year.

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From Jason LaDue . .  a photo of tender (?) Oneida taken in 2001.   Anyone know the disposition of Oneida?  Click here for some previous photos from Jason.

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And finally, from Fred tug44 . . .  locking through E2  . . . right behind us.  I feel grateful to have an occasional view of self to post here.   Some of you have seen some of these on Facebook.

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Thanks to Jeff, Jason, Bob, and Fred for photos here.

 

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