Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Life in the past lane"

We are now 565.6 feet above sea level. Traveling on the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany will take us to sea level utilizing 35 locks over a distance of 340.7 statute miles. The canal is now part of the New York Canal system. The original canal is 187 years old at this point and was a ditch that ran alongside rivers and lakes. The most modern version of the canal which utilized rivers and lakes as part of it's route was completed in 1903. The canal was an unbelievable undertaking and not popular until it was completed and the benefits were apparent. Government was obviously less bogged down with regulations and bureaucracy at that point in our history. The original canal was forty feet wide and four feet deep. The canal is now twelve feet deep.
The Erie Canal opened in 1825. There were originally 83 locks. The Canal has been re-routed and improved three times since it opened. The first revision was in 1862. The last revision was from 1903 to 1908 and brought the canal to it’s present size and route.

Original Canal -363 miles-83 locks-40’wide-4’deep
Canal in 1862-350.5 miles-72 locks-70’ wide-7’ deep
Canal since 1903- 340.7 miles-34 locks-123’ wide-12’ deep ( I saw a lot of places today that I do not think were 123' wide), but the depth is pretty consistent.

The Erie Canal opened up trade routes to the Midwest and enabled western migration. The small towns and villages along the canal grew into major cities because of the canal. It brought prosperity and growth to places like Rochester. Mills and factories were started because there was a river close to use for power and the canal provided cheap transportation for products. Albany became a major city because of the canal. Buffalo became the gateway to the West, and many believe the canal made New York City the greatest port in the world. At the height of canal traffic 4000 canal boats and 25,000 workers ran the canal.
Today the Erie Canal is used for recreational boating. It is open from May 1 to November 15 depending on the weather. This place just has so much history. Today as we motored at 6.5 knots, you could see where the paths were that allowed mules to pull barges. They are hiking or biking paths now. The canal was an amazing accomplishment…the longest canal in the world at the time, and a tribute to American creativity and ingenuity.
There are many homes that line the canal with private boat docks. People wave as you go by, and come up to meet you when you stop in their city. They all ask us where we are going and how long we have been sailing.  I talked to a nice local gentleman in a wheelchair today who asked me if he could be a stow away. We had a very relaxing cruise today. The lift bridge and the lock operators are all very nice, and go out of their way to help. We did go through our first two locks today ...#35 and #34, which dropped us a total of 49 feet.

Our window on the world today...

 Our first lock on the Erie Canal. There was no pressure. If you look above the lock there are a couple of 4th grade classes who had a field trip to watch the boats come through the lock.

We pulled in ...slid up against the wall ...and looped the cables like we had done it many times. Beginners luck? The kids waved!

 Shirl keeping the bow off the wall as we descend.

 Here is something you do not see everyday. The frame of an airplane hanging in a tree. Is it decoration? If so, I want to meet the people who live there. One of the many things that brought a smile to my face today.

 Fall colors...and a beautiful view.

 This is one of two guard gates we passed today. They can be closed not allowing boats through if there is an issue ahead. They also hold water in the various sections if there is a breech in the canal wall.

 And Gilligan popped out of the companionway!

 It is hard to see but there is a yellow flag on the green. It was a wedge shot from the front of Serenity! Too bad I did not bring my clubs...I was feeling it today.

 We stayed in Medina tonight. The city provides free docks with electric, water, showers, restrooms, and a pump out if needed. We walked a few blocks and had dinner at Zambristro. The food was fantastic! 

1 comment:

  1. Good luck on your travels, I too am a sailing dreamer but with only a 22 ft boat. I plan to upgrade in a few years and maybe sail the world. Enjoy the canal I worked on the Erie canal for 4 years and loved every minute of it.


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