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This is the last Roundup I’ve attended.  Here’s another shot from the swim platform, where I’m flat on my belly. That’s Mike Byrnes, last year’s “old man of the sea” at the portside of the wheelhouse.

Downbound in the Federal lock, it’s Waterford, Governor Cleveland, and Tender #3.

 

On the northbound trip, the two smaller tugs fell in alongside Grand Erie.  Grand Erie is a 1951 build that first worked for the USACE in the Mississippi system.

Tug Buffalo heads for its berth beyond Pennsy 399 and Lehigh Valley #79, where

David Sharps bugle greets each vessel as it passes.

 

Lisa Ann was a newcomer that year, I believe.  She was built at Marine Inland Fabricators, where the “new” canal tugs like Port Jackson have also been built.

Another newbie in 2015 was Solar Sal, a solar powered newbuild that actually transported cargo later in the season.  Like Ceres the year before, these are prototypes, and  like Ceres, Solar Sal transported this cargo.

Ever so salty, it’s Ben Grudinskas, captain and builder of Atlantic Hunter.

Here Atlantic Hunter faces off against the mighty Tender #3.  By the way, Tender #3 is 43′ x 10′ and came off the ways in 1926!!  1926 . . . . 94 years ago.

It’s currently powered by a 220 hp Detroit Diesel.

In closing, the land activities include line toss, open to all comers, but won by the pros. I failed at the 15′ mark.

And I’ve not attended the Roundup since 2015, but unless I’m employed and on duty, I hope to make the 2021.

 

This dissected ridge just beyond E-13 is referred to as the Noses, a gap already gouged, the opening to the west.  Looking west, notice that this break is used by the Thruway I-90 south of the River, north of it, a major railroad, and to the north of that, a major state road, 5N.  The 19th-century canal ran between the Thruway and the south cliff, aka Little Nose. The north is called Big Nose.

Here’s a quite technical geology article, but here’s the idea:  a fault line runs through the Noses, the single ridge that once held back Glacial Lake Iroquois.  Water then tumbled over a waterfall.  Eventually the ridge gave way here, and  water gushed out, draining the lake and scouring out the gorges of the Mohawk Valley.  Keep this in mind heading west.  According to First Peoples lore, the Great Spirit cracked open the ridge in anger, wanting to punish them for corruption, converting a lake into a river.

This gap was the way west for early settlement of what we now call the Midwest, and east for trade that led to the rapid expansion of the port of New York City.

Looking back east from the water, you see rail and highway traffic on opposite sides.  The Walmart trucks are explained by a Walmart distribution center near Johnstown.

Grande Caribe here appears from a lush valley and approaches the town of Canajoharie, and heads

into lock E-14, seen in the distance beyond the black railing.

Canajoharie developed into a major Canal port because of the work of Bartlett Arkell, founder of the Beechnut, originally a packing company.  Canajoharie is certainly a rewarding place to walk around, stopping at the Arkell Museum, the family home, other homes, and old churches.  Beechnut still operates in the area in a much larger and newer facility across the river from Amsterdam in Florida, NY.

Many old stone buildings can also be found in Palatine Bridge, the side of the river the lock E-14 is located on.

Note the sign just west of lock E-14.  Amish?

Several miles north and west of Palatine Bridge in Stone Arabia, this 1788 Dutch church is open to the public.  If you want a still-accurate portrayal of the area, click on this 20-year-old article.

Fort Plain, location of lock E-15, was once an important manufacturing center.  The town was first settled by Palatine Casper Lipe in 1730.  Fort Plain was also home to Bud Fowler, and if you’re a baseball fan and don’t know the name, you must click here, or just google him.

An intriguing very large white building on the north side of the river just beyond E-15 is the garage for salt storage and the Longhorn Trucking Company.  It’s intriguing because of its size and absence of windows, spawning in my experience a plethora of stories about its purpose.

A bit further west is the Old Palatine Church, built in 1770.  Major funders for the construction were the Nellis family, who remained loyal to King George, and therefore had to flee to Canada not long after construction.   As is true for the 1788 Dutch church in Stone Arabia, this church is open for special occasions.

Just before St. Johnsville is the fortified Palatine homestead built in 1750, currently restored and operating as Fort Klock.  Although it was located not far from the river via a trail that comes out between red buoys 408 and 410, it’s not visible from the river.

Lock E-16 leads us into the first “land cut.”  Because the river meanders so much in this section, Barge Canal builders decided to bypass the river to the south.

Canal boats often overnight at this very remote lock because of constant dredging needed to keep the waterway navigable.

Less than a quarter mile west of the lock is this  southside wall, actually a portion of old lock 34, and a good tie up for small boats.  The recessed stone section, visible in the foreground,  once accommodated lock gates.

The landcut created an unnamed island.  You can name it.  I’ve named it Jigonhsasee Island.

Guard gates between the mainland (right) and the Jigonhsasee Island control water flow.  Dredging is often needed here because of silting from Nowadaga Creek flowing in from ridges to the south.

If both guard gates above are closed, water is shunted over the Rocky Rift moveable dam, the most remote one on the lower Mohawk.  Invisible on the south side is the Thruway and south of that is the Indian Castle Church.

Just round this bend,

you’ll see a sign indicating the home of General Nicholas Herkimer, son of Palatine immigrants who settled this area.  Click on the link for much more detail.

The site is a worthwhile visit.  The obelisk to the left marks Herkimer’s gravesite. The 19th-century canal ran right in front of the house, so you’re looking at the south bank of the canal.

We’ll stop here.  A few miles ahead is the most spectacular lock in the system.

More on the Palatines can be found here.  There’s even an annual Palatine conference/reunion.   Some prominent US families with Palatine ancestors include the Rockefellers and the Zengers.

For more on the Haudenosaunee,  the story about the formation of the “Iroquois confederacy,” this is a good read.

If you want a diversion, catch the next charabanc and see the sights:  from Canajoharie to Howe’s Cave is 20 miles, and to Cooperstown is less than 30.   Cooper will come up again later.  Hurry back, or you’ll miss the boat west.

Drone photo by Jim Kerins.

Related and in relation to the 2020 canal season, here’s an article from boatUS.

Preface:  There’s a new heading at top of the page called “virtual tour.”  Covid-19 has changed everything. Now it’s not alarming to walk into a bank or business establishment wearing a mask.  Many people commute from bedroom to desk, and a really long commute is one that involves stairs.  I’ve been to a few remote concerts already this week,  and virtual travel is happening without getting beamed up or down.   Webinars and Virtual guides are popping up everywhere, and zooming has a whole new meaning.

Today I begin posting a “virtual tour” across New York state by the waterway that changed our national history.  You don’t need a ticket or a passport or a subscription.  We’ll take some zigs into the surrounding land, and some zags into history because we don’t need to stay between the channel markers.  Transit from the Hudson River to Lake Ontario will take ten posts, ten days.  Also, to avoid confusion, click here to find the distinction between 1825 Clinton’s Ditch, the 1862 Enlarged Erie Canal, and the 1918 Barge Canal, today often referred to as the Erie Canal.  I’ll point out some vestiges of the 19th-century waterway.  That distinction and other terms are defined here.  Yes, some parts of the canal have been filled in, but those parts were obsolete already.  Sal would certainly saunter along if he could, but he’s got other duties.  Besides, Sal’s been replaced by Cats and Cummins and other mechanical critters.

Here’s a good place to start:  a weathered and water-stained distance table I saw in the wheelhouse of 1932 Canal tug Seneca. Although I don’t know the date of printing, the table clearly comes from a time when commercial traffic on the Canal made runs between the sixth boro to Lakes Erie and Ontario routine.  I’ll refer to it for distances now and again.  In this series, we’ll head to Three Rivers Point, and then take the Oswego Canal/River to Lake Ontario.

We’ll begin just south of Waterford, the eastern terminus of the current Canal.  Approaching from Troy on the Hudson, you’ll see

this sign in the town of Waterford indicating the entrance to the Canal, branching off to port.

Waterford, a town of just under 9000, is a fantastic stopping point for boats even today.  Note the red brick visitor’s center and just to the right, the bridge leading over to Peebles Island.  That Second Street/Delaware Ave bridge links this to a few photos farther below, taken decades apart.

Before plunging into history, have a look at where these boats come from.  Double click on most photos to get larger version.  Often recreational boats,sometimes loopers, tie up there for information and provisioning; international yachts . . .

Great Lakes work boats,

and self-described slow rollers.  We’ll roll quite slow too, to smell the flowers and avoid  . .  you know . . what Sal might’ve left behind.

To this day, commercial vessels that can squeeze under the 112th Street Bridge congregate in Waterford in early September each year for the Tugboat Roundup.

Can you spot the one tugboat that appears in both photos, above and below, taken more than a half century apart?  It’s Urger, whose story is long and involved and can be deciphered here.  The self-propelled barge, aka Eriemax freighter, on the wall to the right is Day-Peckinpaugh, which transported cargo on the canal from 1921.  She’ll come up again later in the trip.

Note the same Peebles Island bridge?  Judging by the barges, I’d place this photo at about a century old, back when the Barge Canal-iteration of the Erie Canal opened.  The archival photos throughout the series come from the Digital Collections of the New York State Archives, and this is my credit.  Visit the New York State Museum also virtually here.

 

In the next post, we enter the flight.  For now, let’s hail the lock master on VHF and see if he’ll open gates.  Click on the link in the previous sentence, and scroll, to see the friendliest lock master in my experience;  as with anything, your experience maybe different. .

Consider this a work in progress. Nycanals.com maintains extensive info about every lock in the journey on their site.

Any additions, corrections, or other comments are appreciated.  I have literally thousands of photos of the canal, but would welcome your best as well. I’d love to make this an ever-growing communal project.  Let me add one more from the 2008 Waterford Tugboat Roundup.

Again, black/white photos from New York State Archives, Digital Collections. Color photos WVD, unless otherwise stated.

Fred of tug44 created a systematic tour here several years ago.  Sally W went through the same itinerary from June 11 until 22 in2012.

 

Here was a Chancellor post I did in 2013, and here’s a photo I took of her on September 15, 2017, and

alas, here are some photos taken September 24, 2017–yesterday morning– by a responder to whom I’m grateful and used here with permission.  And yes, that’s Urger in the upper righthand corner.

Boats float, until they don’t . . .

but inattention catches up with all boats.  If Ben Franklin had been interested in boats, he’d have said the three certainties were taxes, death, gravity.

I’m not sure who currently owns Chancellor, but this is a sad sight. Click here to see her Bushey lineage.

Here’s a video I did of her and other tugboats at the 2010 Waterford Tugboat roundup.  Chancellor first appears 1:40 in… and is the star at the end.

 

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,

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

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Roosevelt, which different even

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in nameboard.

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

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All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Click here for posts from lots of other years.  In today’s post, you’ll see almost all blue-and-gold before the parade, i.e., heading for the muster

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entering the top of lock 2

It was great to have two covered barges for events.

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Lehigh Valley 79, dry dock repairs complete, heads for the sixth boro this week. 

Urger exits the low side of lock 2 and  . . .

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enters the Hudson.

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Note the Waterford wall with the covered barges in the distance.

The federal lock at Troy leads into the rest of the Hudson . . .

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After the dignitaries are picked up,

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the flotilla heads back north into the Troy lock,

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and

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the parade has begun.

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All photos by Will Van Dorp.  Many thanks to tug44 as host and photo boat.

For more photos, check these from the Daily Gazette.

 

I’ll terminate this series by identifying a zone that I’d call the “ends of the Canal.”  In other words, even though the canal has these three “ends,” what they have in common is significant enough to group them into a single zone.  At each of the ends, a flight of locks in close proximity accommodates dramatic shift in gradient.  Lock 6–not 9 as is posted to the right–is the top of the flight at the east end, bypassing

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Cohoes Falls. Fred Tug44 documents it here.  In an earlier tugster post, I do it here with the first three photos.

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The double lock in Lockport is the last and westernmost set to move westbound traffic up to the level of Lake Erie.  This level change relates to the well-known Niagara escarpment.

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The photo below was taken inside the lock 34 chamber and

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here we are west bound for Tonawanda and the Niagara River (above the falls) above lock 35.  Here’s Fred’s take on this end of the canal.

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The Oswego is the portion of the NYS Canal system that today accommodates the largest vessels.  The Oswego Canal flows north from the Syracuse area to terminate at Oswego.  Click here for the port of Oswego site.

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In the last mile of so of the Oswego Canal, locks 6 (shown far to the left below) through 8 provide a lift of over 40 feet.

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I still have a few more posts related to the canal, but this has been my attempt to identify my own six idiosyncratic but organic zones of the waterway.  Thanks for sticking with me.

 

Enjoy more blue and gold boats today, and these are called SPS’s . . . as in self-propelled scows.  Generally they have a house at stern and lifting capability forward, as you can see on SPS 52.  The inclusion of these details is where the similarity among these vessels ends . . . as you will notice in the variety of houses below.

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SPS 59.

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SPS 60 in summer of 2014 and

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in late spring of 2009.  For details on this photo, click here and here for photos of the launch on Onrust, assisted by an SPS.

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And then–as with the tenders and buoy boats–there are SPS’s with registry numbers but no “numeric name,”  if you catch my drift, like the one below with registry ending in …305 seen here and

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here, as well as

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. . . 327.

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Let’s look closer at SPS 60’s propulsion.

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For more info on Thrustmaster propulsion, click here.  For thrusters like these on a huge crane, click here.

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I have no idea how many SPS’s operate on the canal or how old these are or when such vessels first served the canal.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

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In reverse commentary on the photos above, photo #9 just above was the heron that checked me back into Waterford after seven days on the Canal.  Photo #1 way above is the heron that stood guard in Oswego.  In between . . . Margot and Cheyenne headed west and then east.  Enjoy these photos sent along on this inflexible old laptop.   As of this writing, I’m guessing Margot is approaching the sixth boro for the dazzled Slater move tomorrow.  I hope my sixth boro friends get good pics of the move from KVK to albany.

More photos soon.

 

Here was the first in what could be a series.   And this foto I’m happy again to credit  to Bob Stopper, some of whose photos can be seen here.   I’m not sure what the naming system is for Canal Corporation, but some of their vessels are named for towns with locks–like Pittsford— along the Canal.

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Ditto–in this foto from my sisterWaterford.   By the way, the pre-eminent website for all things Erie Canal is fred’s at tug44.

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In push gear and looking great at 85 years old, it’s Governor Cleveland.

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If I still lived up that way, I’d get one of these, a buoy boat.

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I don’t know how many of these there once were, but they are disappearing!

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Click here for a foto of this deep looking Governor Roosevelt with her belly exposed.

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There’s Grand Erie, and then there’s just plain Erie.

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Then there are the self-propelled scows, but notice the difference in

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engine exposure between this one shot by my sister and

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SPS-54 shot by me

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in August in Lyons.

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Thanks to Bob and Lucy for these fotos.  The last two are mine.

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