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Thanks to all who read installment 1.  Earlier 2020 I posted about a water tour from west to east that included toddy’s portion of the canal here. Besides a difference in perspective, bike v. boat, the activity of the photographer is very different.  On a boat, your hands are free to grab the camera whenever you choose as you navigate;  on a solo bike, taking a photo means stopping, removing gloves, unpacking camera, and shooting . . . all antithetical to covering territory.

I departed Albion before 0600 because I wanted to make Newark, 67 miles away, a goal 20 miles farther than I had day 1. To achieve this goal, I wanted an early start. My helmet-mounted headlamp was adequate in the hour + of darkness I rode. Traveling then also meant no trail traffic, except a few runners, and no wind, which had plagued me the day before.

As the overcast day brightened, here’s what the lift bridge at the hamlet of Hulberton looked like. With a boat, you’d not be able to travel at this hour, because lift bridges like this are not open for the lifting business at this hour.

Camping happens at parking lots along the trail, as evidenced by the big blue bus identified here as steampunk steve.tv whom unfortunately I did not meet.

The trail basically looked like this.  It needs to be pointed out that during the first two complete days of riding, the trail follows an active portion of the canal, ie, to the right, a vessel under 15.5′ aircraft can get from tidewater to the Great Lakes via that waterway. 

By the time I reached Adams Basin, I’d switched off my headlamp for another day, and I watched a maintenance crew start of their machinery for  another work day.

Next landmark was Spencerport, time for a swig of water, a stop, and a stretch.

Soon afterward, I was getting worried about finding the routes through Rochester.  The trail was mostly well marked, although there’s not the sense of the canal through Rochester as a trench cut through rock as you get from a boat.  I pedaled hard until I was through the city, found my way again after getting lost in Genesee River Park, I passed the strategically placed REI.

I stopped for a gelato right next to the boarding area for Sam Patch,

and realizing there were still over 20 miles to my destination, set out stopping at the Bushnell Basin info….

 

zoomed through a Fairport under construction because of the crooked bridge, and raced through the part of a county I grew up in, stopping only to photograph a sign for a place I never knew here.

 

There it is . . . my only photos from day 2 of the ride.

All photos, WVD, who slept in my erstwhile hometown that night.

How many locks have you noticed since Lockport?

Actually, there are none.  The entire 60-mile stretch with all the lift bridges is at a same level, 513′ above sea level.  And adjacent to lock 32, is a sign of contemporary water use, a kayak park.

The Pittsford Canal Shop  lies west of the village.

The village features some fine examples of preservation and adaptive reuse.  Note beyond the replica packet boat Sam Patch, named for a local daredevil,  is a converted silo complex.  A memory of my childhood is summer Saturday night with a truckload of pickles, some of which I’d picked,  for the Forman’s piccalilli plant.

Several places along this trip already I’ve pointed out that the adjacent land is lower than water level.  This is especially true east (actually SE) of Pittsford on a location called the Great Embankment, and area where–to avoid locks–the canal water is carried on an embankment over Irondequoit Creek.  This is risky, and breaches have occurred. Beside and below the embankment is the hamlet of Bushnell’s Basin, a transshipment point in the early days before the embankment was completed.  Richardson’s Canal House is located in the hamlet.

After we round the Great Embankment, we arrive in Fairport. Here excursion boat Colonial Belle makes her way westbound under the Fairport Lift Bridge, a local landmark currently closed for repairs. Colonial Belle has the distinction of having arrived in this part of the canal on her own bottom via the Panama Canal from the West Coast US.

Enjoy the beautiful pre-0700 morning in Fairport.

In my experience, this stretch of the canal gets lots of use at almost all hours.

Signage helps the traveler see what is no longer here, what led to a here being here.

Commuters use the less-traveled, economy connector between Fairport and Macedon.

Some schoolkids were very enthusiastic as we exit lock E-29 in Palmyra.  I’ve been told by a reliable source that lock E-29 power house used to supply power to both lock 29 and 30, since the Barge Canal dates to a time before the national power grid.  The area near the lock includes a park where you can see a reconstructed 19th century canal change (not chain) bridge, where mules towing barges would change from one side of the canal to the other.  Evidence of three-arch stone Ganargua Creek Aqueduct is also right near the lock.  And, in town, a short walk from Port of Palmyra marina, is a set of five museums referred to as Historic Palmyra.

Palmyra plays a role in a book focusing on the transmission of spiritual ideas along the Erie Canal, Heaven’s Ditch, by Jack Kelly.  Not far from here were the places that catapulted Joseph Smith, the Fox sisters, and more into the spotlight.  The canal itself served as a conduit for religious ideas, social movements, trade goods, and of course many immigrants.  And this part of the canal is sometimes referred to as the “burnt-over district” because of all the spiritual movements stemming for here.

East of Palmyra a spillway captures the overflow form the canal, forming Ganargua Creek, aka Mud Creek, a place that played a wet role in my childhood.

Port Gibson, aka Wide Waters, one of the many ports along the Erie Canal, is Ontario County’s only footprint on the Erie Canal.

The canal into Newark gets quite narrow, as you see with Urger eastbound.  Route 31 runs between the bank and that farm.  And again, driving on 31, you could have no sense that a major waterway can be found below that bank.

Here’s roughly the same location on a very cold morning about four months later.

HR Pike headed through this stretch with brewing tanks from China for Rochester’s Genesee Brewing Company.

Tugboats like HR Pike above and Margot below need telescoping wheelhouses and ballasted barges in order to to squeeze beneath bridges like this one in Newark.

East of town, we get to lock E-28B, where a tender is pushing a deck barge eastbound.

Before we leave Newark, a town of  9000 today, down from 12,000 in 1960, have a look here and here at some of the history of the town.  For a few years, the Mora automobile was made here, until it went bankrupt.  Looking back on the transit we’ve made so far, Rochester once made automobiles as well, including the Cunningham, a 1920 model of which is now in Jay Leno’s mega-garage.   And going back even farther all the way to Lake Erie, Buffalo was the home of Pierce Arrow, many models of which can be seen in the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum.  Pierce began making bird cages, then bicycles, and then automobiles.   One of two Moras still extant can be seen in Norwich NY.  

And maybe someone can comment on why there is no E-31 and E-28 has a part A and a part B?

Some Newark photos, thanks to Bob Stopper.

 

I’m moving eastward from yesterday’s post with my very subjective dividing of the NYS Canal system into zones.  Very subjective, we then move into New York State’s third largest city–Rochester, which also happens to be what I learned about as “the city” as a boy.  If someone worked “in the city,” that meant Rochester.  In the photo below, technically in Greece, you can see the junction lock, the gates leading to a lock on the original and possibly the enlarged canal.  Those iterations of the Erie Canal went straight here, the Barge Canal (the early 20th century iteration) forked off to the right, bypassing the city of Rochester.

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I hadn’t considered what “bypassing Rochester” would look like, and my zones 1 and 2 were portions of the canal I’d never seen from the water.  What it looks like is lots of bridges, with signs to places I knew but otherwise no traces, no familiar skyline.

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Approach lighting system for the airport I took my first flight from,

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but otherwise bridges, some beautiful . . .

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some footbridges . . .

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and others very serviceable vehicle and waterway structure . . .

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with some people in view

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as well as some current commercial buildings

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and bridges some complete . . .

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and trafficked

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Certainly there are vestiges of industrial marine usage

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not used in decades.

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The creation of a kayak park and boat house is one of many transformations that make recreation the current Erie Canal’s industry.

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Another transformation . . . silos into new uses.  The tour boat in the foreground is Sam Patch, named for Sam Patch, of course.

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I have a personal connection with the Pittsford canal front:  as a boy, I harvested pickles  for a neighbor, and one Saturday night I got to ride the farm truck to the piccalilli plant, right near the Schoen complex.   If only time travel were possible and I could take that truck ride to the pickle factory again . . .

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

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