Friday, June 15, 2012

Rust Belt, NY Canal Corp, and Ft Stanwix

Days on cruise:  84

Distance traveled today:  34.9 miles

Travel time: 4 hrs 16 mins, 6 hrs 3 mins including locks

Locks traveled today:  3 today, 22 total

Total trip odometer:  1,956 statute miles

One of the many Loopers we’ve met and socialized with described this leg of the journey as “traveling the rust belt”. Upstate New York has beautiful mountains (Appalachian, Adirondack, Catskills), and its waterways are lined with small towns that used to have vibrant economies often built around manufacturing of one sort or another. Today these towns often still have a block or two of charming waterfront, and some attractive, well-kept homes, but most of them have town cores that appear to be dying with lots of empty storefronts, former manufacturing sights and stores, and declining populations.


These are Guard Gates across the Erie Canal, structures somewhat like guillotines which can be dropped to close off and protect the water on one side or the other in event of weather or other problems.


This is downtown Little Falls, New York.


The New York Canal Corporation, which owns, operates and maintains the Canal system, including the Erie Canal, strikes us as a pretty amazing outfit. The Eric Canal was hard hit last year by Hurricane Irene, and 4 of the locks were pretty much destroyed, including the fact the water ran dry in several segments, stranding some boats (including some Loopers) in segments that had water but between segments without. It took months to finally free all the boats. This year, there are signs of the former devastation, but the locks are all operable and restoration of the surrounding land is well underway. 

All assets of the NY Canal Corp are painted in a cheerful royal blue and butterscotch yellow scheme: the lock railings and office buildings, the tugboats, the housing structures, everything!


Lock staff are friendly and helpful, and often tell us they will call ahead to the next lock to inform them we’re coming so the lock can be prepared for our arrival.


We’re impressed by how orderly and efficient things appear.


Lock 19 has a railroad bridge immediately in front of the entrance to the lock, and boaters are warned to stand back until the lock gates actually open, as there’s no maneuvering room once you pass under the railroad bridge, and the turbulence from the lowering water can make you need it.


Seeing the gates ahead open, we waited the departure of the only boat in the lock, then proceeded.


True to our commitment, we arrived at Rome, NY at 2:00 and called it a day, tying up to yet another free lock wall, this one without electricity or water, but adjacent to a nice park and close to the omnipresent railroad tracks.

We walked a mile into town and toured Fort Stanwix. built in 1758 and of strategic importance in the French and Indian War.  It stands at the site of “The Carrying Place”, where first Native American Indians, and later Europeans, carried their boats across land from Wood Creek flowing out of Lake Oneida and Oswego, six miles to the headwaters of the Mohawk River (on which we’ve been often been traveling the past two days).  The fort supported the Battle of Oriskany, reportedly the bloodiest battle of the Revolutionary War, and one commanded by General Herkimer of yesterday’s blogpost.


Several hours after our arrival at the Rome, NY canal wall, Mike and Judy of One September came along and tied up at the same place.  It’s good to see them again, and this town is special to them as they became engaged here 38 years ago.


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