I never knew...

Trip Start Dec 24, 2010
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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What I did
Rode on the mighty Erie Canal

Flag of United States  , New York
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We learned a lot today.  For one thing, I never realized that the Erie Canal is still in operation.  Granted, it's in use only from May through November, but it's there and a going concern.

The Erie Canal was build from 1817 through 1825 and was hand-dug.  I was dug primarily by Irish laborers and not black slaves, as I would have expected.  A woman staff person at the tour office told us that the slaves had material value and thus weren't used, but the Irish were many and considered of little value.  But work they could!  The canal is twelve feet deep.  A three mile portion consists of sandstone and flint, per Captain Bob on our tour boat.  It took them five years to cut through this, using powder left over from the War of 1812.  The wheelbarrow and the star drill were inventions that come out of this construction.  

Our tour lasted two hours.  Today was cloudy, but bright and reasonably warm, about 65˚.  One side of the canal still has the towpath, where the mules walked that originally towed the boats.  The other side was widened in the early nineteen hundreds.  We also saw a dry dock, still in use, which is below the level of the canal.  When repair is completed, the dry dock is flooded to canal level and the boat can move on.  

We also saw two "lift bridges".  Both ends of them rise to allow boats to pass.  One advantage is that pedestrians can cross while the bridge in the upmost position.

But the highlight of the tour was the locks themselves.  There are two stages, each about twenty five feet in height.  It's the same escarpment that makes the Niagara Falls what it is.  To fill the first lock takes only about ten minutes.  The second takes a bit longer, since the level of the water is not affected as much by gravity.  I took a number of short videos to show you how it all works.  

Prior to our canal tour, we visited Olcott, NY, where we had spied another lighthouse while enroute here.  Unfortunately, when we got to it, it is merely a replica of the same.  I took one photo plus a few of waterfowl in the area.

In between times, we had lunch and did the laundromat duty, which we have neglected.  All in all, it was a long, but enjoyable day.

Tomorrow we'll move on to Erie, PA...
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