May 31, 2013

5/29/13 - Erie Canal Cruise

Low bridge, everybody down.
Low bridge for we’re comin' thru a town.
Remember the Erie Canal song?  I learned it in grade school--drives me nuts I can only remember part of one verse, and some of the chorus.  (Wait!  Why should I apologize for not remembering a song from 1956???  Good grief!  It’s not an Alzheimer test!) 

The official name of this boat ride is Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruise.  We went with Captain Mike on the Lockview IV for a 2-hour tour of the canal. Captain Mike has a great spiel about the history of the canal and things we saw.  (George told me later that he’d pulled something up on his cell phone and read every word.  I suppose that explains why when I asked him a question, I usually got a one-word answer.  But occasionally you could tell that he had a wicked sense of humor.  Probably just bored with all the tourists—he’s been doing this for 27 years.)
The Erie Canal in Lockport, NY, is along the "Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor", so George got to get a Passport stamp.  This is the real Erie Canal—363 miles dug by hand between 1817-1825, from Albany to Buffalo--which opened the frontier for migration west.  I think that's why so many people ended up in Minnesota.   
We headed west until we got to Locks 34 and 35.  These 2 locks are the modern side of the canal.  Half of the original Flight of Five locks from the 1800s are still there.  On the right, they're used as a spillway now.  Left of the white building is the current canal.  The white building used to be a control structure for Gates 34/35, now it's the Lockport Erie Canal Museum.
We tied up in Lock 34.  They closed the gate behind us, and raised the water. 

When it was high enough, that gate opened and we went into Lock 35. 
See the water spraying?  That’s actually several leaks in the gate.  Captain Mike told us we wouldn’t notice them when the water level came up.
When the water was high enough, went out the Gate into the canal and headed to the widest bridge in the US.  Under the bridge you can see where the old tow path goes on top of the stone cut.


Mostly you can’t see the towpath alongside the canal …  At this point they cut a lot of the vegetation away, and discovered a stone building that no one knew was there.  They have no idea when it was built, who built it, or what it was used for.  Apparently they didn’t ask the right people.  Somebody's gotta know!
We turned around to head back to town.  We “locked through” Lock 35, then 34.
We cruised under the Upside-Down Railroad Bridge, built to discourage large ships from using the canal.  Sneaky way for the railroads to get them to transport cargo by rail.  Captain Mike took us past the dock to turnaround at the Lockport Marina and cruise back.  Fun day. 
Click for more pictures of the Erie Canal Cruise.

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