You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Oswego Canal’ tag.

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.

 

 

 

The photo below I took on October 14, 2017 from the O-7 lock chamber, looking toward O-6.  Notice the red tug in the distance along the right side wall, which is the Leto Island side.

Here’s a close-up of the tug.

Below is a photo I took on March 24, 2018 from a cofferdam built where the tug above was, looking back toward Lock O-7.

Yes, the canal bed there is dry enough.  Who knows what besides bicycles lie in the mud . . .  guns, cell phones, flung away wedding rings . . .

 

The green bridge beyond lock O-7 is Utica Street.  All the compromised concrete of O-7 has been removed and

form and rebar installed.

Note the blue lift-basket in the photo below and use it as a reference in the following photos.

x

My position in the photo below is less than 30′ from the initial photo in this post.

These are the mitre gates at the top (south) side of O-7

And here’s that same tug Endeavor we saw above.  Now the pressures . . .?  Think of all the work that needs to be done by opening day in the NYS Canal system!  Crews here were working hard, and I was there on a Saturday, but opening day in less than 50 (??) days away.

All photos and sentiments by Will Van Dorp.  These locks are within Oswego city limits, right along East River Road, aka 481.

 

 

Can you guess the origins of this freshwater vessel?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I’d think the underwater structure here is something of a clue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve no idea how many years ago this house was added.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s another clue, although it might be quite the distractor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I like the off center crane.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Check 1929 on that above clue.

This is a plan of the ferry WARD’S ISLAND, designed by Eads Johnson, and built for the New York State Department of Mental Health in 1929 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT (slow year for submarines?). Steel, diesel, 101 ft. x 32 ft. Retired in 1937 by construction of bridges.

0aaaawi7

Many thanks to Norman Brouwer for the above drawing and identification.  Photos by Will Van Dorp, who needs to find out what propulsion engine (s) the derrick vessel has today.  I’ve also not found a photo of Ward’s Island prior to her conversion.   Photos were taken along the Oswego Canal.

 

No . . . it’s not a disease or a euphemism for profanity.  It’s many places, one of which is marked by this lighthouse in Oswego.  All these photos were taken since Tuesday in Oswego, a place I previously wrote about here last year after watching a drill that involved swimming from and to a helicopter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

See the light to the right here along the horizon, a light younger than Urger.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last year’s drills involving drones have already made their way into kids’ murals!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The mouth is the port of entry for Metalcraft Marine vessels making their way into various US ports.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some vessels I was free to watch enter the port, but others

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

went by and I couldn’t follow until later, when they were really

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

behind and beyond

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

reach.  The tug here is Everlast.  If you were at the canal mouth this morning–or any other time–and caught a close-up, side view of Everlast pinned or–even better–light, kindly send along some photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All photos this week by Will Van Dorp, whose access to wifi is still a challenge.

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,497 other followers

If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Archives

November 2021
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930