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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.

 

I was doing maintenance in the  photo archives yesterday and took a second look at some photos from Damen and from Picton Terminals.  Since I know that Sheri Lynn S (SLS) arrived in Canada in Montreal in late fall, this has to be a photo of it being loaded onto the ship in Shanghai after traveling via the Yangtze from the shipyard in Changde, Hunan in China.  Given that, the tugs in the background could now be scattered all over the world.

This photo shows the boat being secured to the deck,again in Shanghai.

After the ocean voyage between the photo above, SLS arrives in a port at the end of her voyage, and that port has to be

Montreal, given the blue tugboat here, Ocean Georgie Bain.

And now for a few photos from her current habitat on the NE corner of Lake Ontario, SLS breaks ice, sometimes . . .

enabling the cement ship to dock.

In fact, this time of year, ice breaking is her main activity.

Many thanks to Damen and Picton Terminals for these photos.

This Stella Polaris . . . a very common vessel name for obvious navigation reasons, is less than 400′ and about 20 years old.  The curious building off the bow is the Boldt Castle Power House and Clock Tower . . .  or BCPHCT.

Algoma Conveyor, SLSWmax, was still under construction a year ago in Jiangsu, China.

Narie is another recent Chinese built cargo ship

in the Great Lakes, I’ve read, for the first season, although other Polsteam boats have worked there for some years.

The oldest Great Lakes port in the US is Oswego, and it sees lakers like the Japan-built cement ship NACC Argonaut fairly frequently.

With the right vessel, one can travel from the Great Lakes directly to NYC, of course, and when we did, we ran into Disney Magic, Italian built, Bahamian flagged, and Spain overhauled.

Making this likely the most diverse “random ships” post ever, here’s P61, an Irish patrol vessel named for Samuel Beckett. Unless I’m mistaken, this “writers” class comprises the largest vessels in the Irish Naval Service. Here’s a photo of Beckett leaving town yesterday taken by frequent commenter Phil Gilson.

Cembay is another Japan built cement carrier, 1997, shuttling between the US and Port Daniel QC. 

And finally . . .  YM World is, as of this posting, steaming toward Savannah, after shifting boxes here in Bayonne.

All photos here by Will Van Dorp within the past 30 days.

Daybreak finds us entering the Welland Canal, taking a pilot from J. W. Cooper.

The past few weeks at MRC have brought the decapitation of Algorail.

Tecumseh is docked just below lock 8.

Algosea slips into the parallel lock chamber at lock 4, upbound.

We encounter NACC Argonaut as she heads upbound below lock 2.

Then we switch pilots at Lake Ontario level and

we pass Ojibway as we make a course for Toronto.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Today’s post takes us from Port Colborne to Cleveland.

I’ll do another post about the MRC yard later.  You can click here to see what these two looked like last year.

Algorail is nearly gone and work has already begun on Algoway.

At the Buffalo breakwater, Kathy Lynn was standing by with barge to receive concrete rubble, I think.

NACC Argonaut departs the Buffalo River for Bath, ON.

Manitoulin heads west.

Paul L. Luedtke tows scow #70. Is that Ashtabula in the background?

GL Cleveland assists barge Delaware out of the Cuyahoga…

until Calusa Coast clears the RR bridge and Cleveland returns to the barn.

 

 

All photos Will Van Dorp

 

I’d first assume this was a small tanker, but I was wrong.

 

 

Here’s the answer to cargo:  dry bulk cement.  In previous lifetimes, it had carried grain as well.

 

A hint of ghostwriting midships and to the right of “SPIRIT” shows another name or several namesGagliarda and Arditawere there earlier.

Arriving soon after Mckeil Spirit, was this vessel that I’d seen in Buffalo earlier this summer, wedged in alongside the Lafarge dock.

All this up-high piping suggests cement carrier as well, reminding me of English River, less than a mile away waiting for the scrappers’ torches.

Covered over with paint is the Arklow fleet logo. I never have been able to learn if there’s a technical term for a vessel logo situated on the bow, almost like a harkening back to a figurehead, not unlike the one of the barque Peking.

 

Now I understand:  this is not saying a “new [division] of Algoma; it’s a joint venture between Algoma and Nova, the latter a company from Luxembourg.

 

 

Here’s the rest of the fleet.  For a photo/article of NACC Argonaut in Oswego, click here.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

 

Call this Buffalo to Cleveland.  Starting out with the other half of the Erie Canal inaugural trip of DeWitt Clinton, yes there was a Buffalo ceremony too, and it wasn’t a wedding.  Rather, maybe it was the reception when they offered appeasement to the Lake gods.

up the Buffalo river, it’s NACC Argonaut offloading at the LaFarge elevator.

Cotter . . . it’s my first time seeing her outside the river and under way!

Kraig K . . .  my first time to see a commercial boat fishing on Lake Erie.

 

BBC Kibo . . . in port in front of the city.

Eagle, a 1943 Bay City tug,  with matching bridge….

Sam Laud takes about two hours to back out of the Cuyahoga, using thrusters at stern

and bow.

And let’s end with Meredith Ashton. 

All photos by Will Van Dorp, currently at wifi in Manitowoc.

 

 

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