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This post (number 4650+) may stay front and center for a few days because I’ve left my desk, seated myself, precariously, on an unmotorized bike, and am (I hope) making some speed from the western end of the Erie Canal to the eastern one.  I started pedaling Sunday morning from Tonawanda, not Saturday as I’d initially planned.  I expect I’ll see some morning fog as is often to be found in the corridor this time of year.  Yes, I’ll be taking photos along the way.  Some photos I’ve posted on FB directly from my phone, or put up later if there’s wifi.  An observation though . . .  when you’re biking, trying to maintain a steady speed, it takes much more motivation to stop that momentum to get the camera out of the bag and take a photo.

The October 14, 2020 calendar photos I took in Amsterdam NY.  It turns out that we tied up facing the Riverkeeper boat, R. Ian Fletcher on the wall just above lock 11, which, had it been clear, you’d easily see.

No matter what time you’ve planned a morning Canal departure, you might not actually move until the fog lifts, of course unless your have working radar.

Grande Mariner‘s radar had to be folded down during a Canal transit to clear the low bridges.

In the landcut portions of the canal, in autumn mornings you see scenes like these.  I have to write it . . . eerie canal.

Sentinels with lethal force  work the locks and

keep watch from the dead trees.

Once I can from a technological perspective, I’ll put images on FB, maybe even here.  This is “making it up as I go along.”

Beef on weck, white hots, tomato pies, ghost bread, and other blandishments along the Canal Trail will be devoured with thanks.  Today I’m in Syracuse area on plan to get some greens even though I’m not yet in Utica.  My goals are as follows:  Rome tomorrow, Little Falls Friday, Amsterdam Saturday, and Waterford Sunday . . .  but that’s ambitious!

All photos, WVD, who hopes to be back at this desk in less than two weeks.

The Oswego River is the second largest river flowing into Lake Ontario, but it feels in places like a stream.  I don’t have to tell you what the largest river into Ontario is, I hope.

If you study the east bank, lots of traces of the original 1828 Oswego Canal, a verdant mudbank and even stonework like this for a former lock.

A detail to look for on the west side of the river just north of Minetto is the beer cave, where Brosemer Brewery used to cool their products in the age before refrigeration.

I’ve never been inside, but here’s a photo of the interior.

As evidence of the commercial traffic still plying the system, here’s a New Jersey-based tugboat on its way to Lake Erie.

In Oswego there’s a flight of three locks in just over a mile that will lower us 46′.  The canal runs along the left side of this photo; notice the passenger vessel about to exit the top end of the lock O-7, climbing toward Minetto.  Along the right side of the photo, i.e., the west side of the river, water has to tumble that same distance, a fact that allows hydropower generation and a thriving sport fishing industry, both in the river, out on Lake Ontario, and elsewhere in the locality.

In summer, Oswego enjoys its connection to the big lake.  What’s a recreation area today was an industrial only area back over 150 years ago.

Industry still exists.  Tourism to the right, and cement to the left.

Count the three tugboats in this photo from 2014.  From near to far, Margot is pushing some oversize electrical equipment from Schenectady to Massena; the blue Cheyenne is heading to Lake Erie via the Welland Canal to retrieve new barges from a shipyard, and Wilf Seymour, the tugboat on in the distance pushing the large barge* that has delivered aluminum ingots via the Saint Lawrence River for use at the  Novelis plant just north of Oswego.  Interesting as evidence of the commercial value of the Canal, Margot is based in Troy NY, Cheyenne then in Hillside NJ**, and Wilf Seymour in Burlington ON.

***That barge transports the equivalent of 920 20-ton trucks, and Cheyenne is now based in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

A different day brings different commercial boats here;  I’m not sure where the speedboat is based, but the two boats on the wall are from New Jersey and Rhode Island, and

Seaway Maid, from Clayton, on the St. Lawrence.

From right to left here, the white building is the H. Lee White Maritime Museum and the tug in the front of it it LT-5, a veteran of the Normandy invasion. Here‘s more on that tug, aka Nash.   Moving to the left, it’s 85′ schooner Ontario, and Niña and Pinta of the Columbus Foundation.  I wrote here about touring the Niña and Pinta on the Hudson back in 2012.  Ask me about schooner Ontario and I’ll tell you a sad tale.

This Canadian sailboat enters the system here, bound for the Caribbean.

Proximity to Canada made Oswego, the US first port on the Great Lakes, an important station in the Underground Railroad.

If you’re interested in some hard-to-explain details of Oswego harbor, you’ll love browsing through all the historical photos here.  Oswego became an official US port of entry in 1799, and

an active shipbuilding center. Vandalia, 91′ x 20′ and built here in 1841, was the first propeller steamship on the Great Lakes.

The brig Oneida was built here as well, less than a decade before the War of 1812.

Working backward here, this place was wrangled over for a long time, and a plaque in front of the star-shaped fort on a bluff east of the mouth of the river is …

my all-time favorite historical marker:  “Built, captured & destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed . . .”  Needing more historical recognition is Dr. Mary E. Walker, the only woman as yet to receive a Medal of Honor, and do read that link.

Notable in the recent era, Fort Ontario served as a refugee settlement shelter called “safe haven” in 1944-45.  In summer 2019 refugees returned to Oswego to commemorate the 75th anniversary of their sojourn there.

So here were are;  we’ve virtually transited one possible course on the Erie Canal, traveled about 225 miles.  We were raised 405′ and then lowered back down about 175′,  doing some rounding of numbers. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride, learned something about this waterway, and gotten some good photos.  As to food and drink on board, sorry . . . that’s not my department.

Let’s head due west about 20 miles,  into Lake Ontario.  Here I’m looking south toward Sodus Point, where I learned to swim in the early 1960s.  It’s so calm I could  “stand-up canoe-paddle” all the way to the lighthouse.  Six months later this SE corner of Ontario had 20′ to 30′ waves, according to NOAA.    This area of the lake, called the Rochester Basin, is 802′ deep at its greatest depth.  NOAA held meetings in summer 2019 for public comment on a proposed designation of the area as a National Marine Sanctuary.

If we continue on this course about 140 miles, we’ll be at Port Weller, ON, the entrance to another Canal, the Welland.  But unless you sign me on for that  trip, I’ll be leaving you here.

Until tomorrow with something different.  Meanwhile, the virtual boat crew needs to refuel with virtual fuel, do virtual maintenance on virtual hardware, etc . . . and we’ll begin another transit through different portions of the canal on May first. Let’s NOT make that may day, which has a whole set of negative connotations I’d rather avoid. Seats are still available for good prices, all, of course, virtual.

Meanwhile, if you plan to do a real transit of the canal –read this note about the 2020 season opening!!–and need crew with local knowledge, get in touch.  I can tie knots, throw lines, and spin yarns.  And if you want to make real evaluative comments of our virtual trip–e.g., errors, omissions, additions…–I’d love to read them.  Comment here or to my email.

 

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.

 

 

 

Believe it or not, I’m way inland and without a camera, and a preference for novelty prompts  a different almost-year-end post together.  Rules I made for myself follow:  go to my archives and select the first photo of something water-related each month of 2019. So if the first photo in my archives for each month is a person or an inland structure, I don’t use it;  instead, I go forward in that month to the first boat or water photo.

For January, it was Susquehanna in a very familiar IMTT on the Bayonne side of the KVK.  She’s currently westbound along the Keys.

February was La Perla, an oyster barge on Peconic Bay.

March was Nathan G on the very southern tip of Manhattan, across from the Colgate clock.  She’s currently working in the sixth boro.

Jonathan C was assisting a box ship out in the wee hours near the start of April.  Right now, she’s in the sixth boro, doing or waiting to do a similar escort.

May began with a NYC oyster boat headed north through the Narrows.

Early June it was Tavropos, in the Stapleton anchorage.  The crude oil tanker is currently off the Tabasco coast of Mexico.  The tanker appeared here previously as Moonlight Venture.

July began with Fishing Creek headed out of the Narrows.  She’s currently near Philly.

In August it was Grande Mariner approaching lock E14.  She’s docked in Narragansett Bay.

In September, actually on September 1, it was Kaye E. Barker southbound across Lake St. Clair with the landmark Renaissance Center ahead.  She’s currently upbound on Lake Huron, possibly getting another load of ore for the season.

October began with me meeting Mrs. Chips bound for the Narrows and point south and ultimately Florida, where she currently is.

November it was Denak Voyager taking on scrap.  That’s the Newark Bay Bridge beyond the ship, and Rebecca Ann lost to the left margin.  Rebecca Ann is currently in the sixth boro, and Denak Voyager has exited the Straits of Gibraltar, heading back to the sixth boro.

And finally, December, it’s a mystery boat for now and an unidentified location. Guess if you like . . . I hope to get back to this photo in 2020.

Maybe tomorrow . . .  last day of the year . . . I’ll do the last photo of each month following the same rules.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

This begins a new series, and I’ll post only when I can get on WIFI.  “Montreal bound” will soon devolve to MB.  Logistics causes me to post with a few days lag, so I’m posting from Buffalo.

To start, this is the closest I’ve been to Roger Blough so far.  One of these years, I’ll see her in much greater detail.

Since I’ve switched vessels most of this years, here’s my former ride . . . Grande Mariner, Chicago bound.  By now she’s been in Chicago a few days.

Off Wisconsin, we passed Sarah Andrie towing A-390,

Tonawanda-bound.

At the Fincantieri Bay yard in Sturgeon Bay, I saw what I believe are portions of the new VanEnkevort barge.

At the Miller Art Museum in Sturgeon Bay, I enjoyed the works of its namesake and benefactor, Gerhard CF Miller, and this drawing from 1883.

No stop here would be complete without a glance at the Elizabeth NJ-built John Purves.

But leaving town by the ship canal, I had my greatest surprise . . . these two USCG 22′ ice rescue airboats.  The Door peninsula is happy they are here. 

I never knew the USCG had such equipment.  These are cell phone pics, because if I had run to my bunk to grab my camera . . . I would have missed the shot altogether.

All photos and any errors by Will Van Dorp.

 

 

Grande Mariner is on its way to Chicago from NYC via the Erie Canal.  Since I’m not onboard, I have the opportunity to watch it lock through.

The lock is on the Palatine Bridge side of the Canal, across the bridge from Canajoharie, five times larger with its population of 3500.

Note the captain (see sunglasses extreme right center of the photo) coordinating with radio info from the mates (on ship extreme left center).  What the captain can’t see but needs to know is the orientation of the bow and stern with the lock wall, ie, distance from the wall.

Once inside the chamber, the lock master (nearer) determines when the mitre gate can be closed and start to fill the lock.

Lines on the bollard secure the ship inside.

When the chamber is full, the lock master determines when the upper gates can be opened,

and Grande Mariner sails west.

Chicago . . . it’s about two weeks to the west from this location.

If you’ve ever taken Amtrak west of Amsterdam NY, you passed within 200′ of this approach wall.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who will be westbound on the sister ship in less than a week.

And that’s not some sports scores.  This is a set of photos from a two-day run from Sylvan Beach to Waterford, locks E22 to E2.

A chart identifies locations along the Canal that are just ghosts, absences now like “USAF oil docks”

rather than presences.

Eyes outside though show presences, lots of small boats, very small like

these sculls on the summit level.

We squeeze through the guard gate just west of Rome, where

Captain Jack Graham passed us, passing the entry point of the Mohawk River into the Canal, the same area marked by the chart capture above.

Recreational boats were out on this Sunday morning, and

work boats BB 121 and BB 57 stayed tied up.  I don’t know the number of the one of the bank where, a year ago, we would have seen the now-Sound-submerged T7. 

Thistle passed, a Newport boat,

as did this one, name unknown.

Tender #2 (T2) is tied up until Monday in the Utica area,

west of lock E18.

Shooting Star seems an unlikely vessel to have come up from Peekskill.

Steeling’ Away is a classic small cabin cruiser I’d guess from the 1950s, the time of two-tone cars.  Anyone know the manufacturer?

In some thick fog above E10, it’s BB 107.

  

Below E09, it’s the bateaux of Mabee Farm, the oldest house in the Mohawk Valley.

Scotty waits with a scow below E07.

 

And below 3/5s of the flight, it’s Tender #3

and at Hudson River level, it’s Riverkeeper.

Photo #6 (of GM) by Bob Graham.  All other by Will Van Dorp, who at this point is almost home.

 

 

Bright and early, Kithy P passes Grande Mariner and enters

lock O8.

We followed Kithy P later, and departing lock O5, we met Rebecca Ann, who would enter the lock we had just vacated.

(Note:  as of today, Rebecca Ann is transiting the Welland Canal on the return trip to the sixth boro.)

On our way to Fulton, we passed some exotics.

And on our way to Phoenix, we passed my favorite docks in the system . . . repurposed flatbed trailers, three of them together.

This pontoon vessel had to exit O1 before we could enter, and

River Rose, a former sixth boro excursion boat now relocating to Michigan, had to wait for us.

 

And dead ahead, it’s Three Rivers, Clay NY, where the Oswego and the Erie Canals meet.   We will turn to port . . . east.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

This is Oswego to Port Colborne, by way of Rochester . . . actually Charlotte on the Genesee.   The whale-watch headed Grande Caribe.  No . . . the Great Lakes have no whales. At the port is Robert S. Pierson, a river-class bulker.

I repeat a variation of this image.  The Erie canal flows under the arched bridge and the Genesee . . . under the longer, flatter bridge.

We take a pilot right outside Port Weller, the Ontario end of the Welland Canal, and then

enter upbound.

 

Nassau-flagged Victory II met us between locks 7 and 8.

From right to left here, that’s Pierson  again, a sailing vessel, and Capt. Henry Jackman.

Now more on that sailing vessel . . . schooner Empire Sandy.  You have to read this link:  she started her life as a tugboat!

HMCS Oriole is a 1921 ketch, whose origins hearken back to both Toronto and Neponset, MA.

 

Capt. Henry Jackman waits in Port Colborne as does

Baie St Paul. Jackman was built in the Collingwood Shipyards, whereas St Paul comes from Jiangsu China.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

Too bad this intriguingly named RORO was so far away when I saw it.  Actually Drive Green is the project;  the actual vessel name is Drive Green Highway.  The project seeks to reduce NOx and CO2; it’s more streamlined, uses slippery hull coating, incorporates solar-powered LED lighting throughout the ship, and more.  Click here for RORO history.  I don’t know why the orange is not some version of chartreuse.

Breezy Victoria really should be parts of a “names” post, but I took it this same foggy visit to this part of the port.

Note the upper 400′ of the Staten Island side bridge tower is missing as

Pilot No 1 aka New York heads back out to her station.   Here from winter 2014 is the same boat at the same bridge in different weather.

If you use your peripheral vision, you can just make out West Bank Light off the starboard stern of pilot boat New York.

Orange Ocean follows the fog bank into the Narrows.

And here’s the vessel I came out to see:  Grande Mariner on her return from Honduras!!  Here you can see the West Bank Light a little more clearly.

I board Grande Mariner again in July, for some more tours of the Great Lakes.  Next winter’s plan for Grande Mariner is a trip to Panama! 

Having no pressing demands on Thursday morning, I went back down to the Narrows, and once again it was

socked in!

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

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