"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

June 23, 2018

June 20 - Seneca Falls, NY

Seneca Falls Town Dock

"Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves." —Henry David Thoreau
The Cayuga-Seneca Canal is actually two short canals that join the Erie Canal to Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. The first lock is about four miles south of the Erie Canal, this lock takes you into Cayuga Lake. We decided to complete the Cayuga-Seneca Canal so we took a right after lock 1 and followed a well-defined canal about 8 miles to Seneca Lake. We’ve now done all the canals in New York.

On our way back down the canal towards Cayuga Lake, we spent the night in Seneca Falls. This sleepy little village was once a thriving mill town that used the waterpower of the Seneca River to operate its mills. When the locks were built to provide a usable canal between the lakes, the river was dammed at the current location of locks 2 and 3. This created a 50’ deep lake that submerged much of the downtown and the mills along the river. Seneca Falls has the distinction of being the birthplace of the Women’s Rights movement. Women obtained the right to vote, own property and many other rights in this small village first. 

We saw a lot of these little canal rental boats. If you don't have a boat that can make it under the bridges...this would be a good way to see the Erie Canal.
Docked on the wall in Seneca Falls
We had dinner at 84 Fall...it was wonderful
Seneca Falls has long believed itself as the inspiration for Bedford Falls in the film classic It’s a Wonderful Life. If you'd like to see some evidence of the connections and similarities between the two towns go to this link.

Thursday June 21 was our last day on the move and it was a beautiful day to be on the water. The following pictures are from Thursday morning. This is the old Seneca Knitting Mill.
Trinity Episcopal Church over looks the canal
Lock 2 and 3 of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal are staircase locks...you move straight from lock 2 into lock 3. We were raised 50' from the Cayuga Lake side to the village of Seneca Falls.
 Typical view in the Cayuga-Seneca Canal
The start of the canal coming off of Cayuga Lake
Looking out toward the lake
It was a beautiful day to head down the lake...we had a great time, but it feels good to be home.

June 21, 2018

June 19 - 15 Years on the Erie Canal

We headed east today, we went 50 miles, did seven locks that lowered us 110' and went under 88 bridges...other than that there is nothing new to tell you about. So I guess I'll share a little more history on the Erie Canal.

The first company to offer travel on the canal was the Canal Navigation Company. One could travel upon the canal for the small fee of four cents per mile which accounted for board and lodging. A tourist at that time would have paid approximately $2.80 per day. Horses would tow the boats while walking along a paved towpath next to the canal. The boats and would travel nearly 80 miles per day switching horses every six hours.  
A typical packet boat could accommodate about 30 people. It was about 60-70 feet long, with accommodations for a dining room, where two rows of tables were set. At night, mattresses were spread on the seats of the table and cots were suspended from the roof. The deck was perhaps the biggest attraction of the packet boats. Tourists could see nature, sing, dance, play instruments and completely immerse themselves in this totally new experience. However, passengers quickly discovered that there were many complications that could hamper their experience. Deck-top activity was interrupted every quarter mile by low bridges. When the captain screamed “Low bridge, everybody down!" passengers had to either scamper back into the cabin or lay face down on the deck to avoid getting knocked off the boat. Considering these bridges were a common occurrence, it made recreation on the deck extremely difficult. Inside the boat wasn’t much better, there was not much of a view and the heat in the summer was unbearable.  
The Erie Canal Song was written in 1905 to memorializes life on the Erie Canal between 1825 to 1880 when the mule barges made boomtowns out of Utica, Rome, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, and transformed New York into the Empire State. It's the most recognized of all the Erie Canal folksongs. It's interesting to note that the cover depicts a boy riding a mule leaned down to fit under a bridge, but in actuality the song is about the people on the boats and the way they had to duck down or get off the roof to fit under bridges.
You can listen to the song here

June 20, 2018

June 17 - Waterfalls and Small Town Charm

Spencerport Town Dock

“It’s the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.” —Bertrand Russell

We made another stop along the way today. The small town of Holley has a pretty park that provides free docking. It's just a short walk through the park to the Holley Canal Falls. The falls are about 35 ft and are fed from the overflow water from the Erie Canal. The water empties into the East Branch of Sandy Creek and eventually makes its way to Lake Ontario. It made a nice place to stretch our legs and have lunch.

After our little break we headed east and spent the night in Spencerport. The weather has really gotten hot and it felt wonderful to get plugged in and start the AC. We plan on taking a day off tomorrow and enjoy the AC and Internet while we wait for the next cool front to move in. One good thing about a heat wave here...you know they won't last long.

The Pearl docked at the park in Holley
Holley Canal Falls Park
Every Sunday evening there is music at the gazebo in Spencerport, next to where we docked earlier in the week 
The Pearl docked in Spencerport...east of the Union Street lift bridge this time.

June 19, 2018

June 16 - Lockport Flight of Five

Canal Port Medina

"If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." —Thomas Edison

We started our morning by visiting the North Tonawanda farmers market...it was full of wonderful sections. After enjoying our breakfast at the market and picking up a few items (we should have gotten more) we headed back to the boat and started our trip east, back to Ithaca. Our planned destination for the day was Lockport, so we could explore the old Flight of Five locks. After spending a few hours wandering through town, reading the history of the area and visiting another farmers market, we decided to move a little further east before finishing our day.
Warning there's a history lesson coming...Lockport’s staircase of five locks (Flight of Five), ascended a height of 60 feet within a distance of only 550 feet, it’s one of the best-preserved structures remaining from the Enlarged Erie era. The present locks are on the location of the original southern portion of the Erie Canal Flight of Five Locks. Lockport’s Flight of Five is one of the top visitor destinations on the entire New York State Canal System.

When surveyors laid out the route for the construction of the original Erie Canal, they selected the site of present-day Lockport as the location where the canal would traverse the sheer rock cliff of the Niagara Escarpment. The Escarpment continues east to Watertown, NY and west to the vicinity of Chicago. Taking advantage of a natural basin at the base of the geological feature, the locks were designed as a set of double locks, five locks lifting boats west to Buffalo and five locks lowering boats east to Albany. The construction of the locks with wooden gates took from 1822 -25 to complete. From Lockport, the excavation continued west for another 1 mile (The Deep Cut), in order to tap the headwaters of Lake Erie.

The construction of the Erie Barge Canal resulted in the demolition and removal of the southern portion of the Flight of Five, to be replaced by two mechanized locks in 1918, Locks 34 and 35. The upgrade was made to handle motorized barges resulting in locks being enlarged from 110’ to 328’ long and from 18’ to 45’ wide, with a combined vertical lift of approximately 50’.

A view of the old Flight of Five Locks and the newer lock 34 and 35. Looking west from the Erie Canal.
An old postcard of the Flight of Five
Looking towards town from the top of lock 35
Looking down on part of the original Flight of Five.
Right after leaving lock 35 we went under what is called "Big Bridge". The bridge is a large 3-hinged arch bridge that was built in 1914 to span the Barge Canal. It is 399' wide and 129' long. It still transports daily traffic, but a small section of it is used for parking for the Lockport City Hall.
An old newspaper photo...almost the same as mine. 
A old postcard of the Big Bridge...once advertised as the widest bridge in the world.
Locking east towards lock 35 on the right and The Pearl docked on the left. This picture was taken from the Big Bridge.
Looking across the locks at the Flight of Five Winery.
Looking down on lock 34 with a tour boat locking down.
Looking east towards lock 34
Looking west at The Pearl and the Big Bridge

June 18, 2018

June 14-15 West to Tonawanda

Gateway Harbor

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” ― Jawaharlal Nehru

We woke up on Thursday morning to a sunny but VERY windy day...20+ MPH winds. We usually don’t mind the wind especially when we’re in a river or canal, but we have our isinglass and bimini down. Sitting in the wind gets a little old, so we spent most of the day exploring Medina, visiting with a few people and relaxing. By the middle of the afternoon the wind had laid down a little and we moved on to a little park in Gasport...absolutely nothing in town, but it was a nice peaceful little spot. 

On Friday morning the weather was perfect, a beautiful day to be on the water...amazing temperatures and no wind. This was our last day moving west...we’ve now completed the whole Erie Canal, from the Hudson River to the Niagara River. The Erie Canal is mainly used for recreation now and the towns are much smaller than they used to be with a quiet and slow pace. It’s fun to try and imagine how things were in the mid 1800s when the area was more commercial, the streets were full of people and buildings full of shops and businesses. There’s so much history in this area...I wish I was better at remembering all we’ve learned. 

Our last stop going west was Tonawanda. The town is located on the Tonawanda Creek, which flows into the Niagara River and is located midway between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The name comes from the Seneca tongue which means "Swift Running Water". Tonawanda Creek once had large stretches of rapids until it was tamed with the construction of the Erie Canal. The city also calls itself "The Lumber City," due to its past primary industry and once was the largest port on the Great Lakes during the height of the Erie Canal.  

A few miles east of town the water became much clearer and a pretty shade of turquoise. Tonawanda is a popular spot for boaters in the area to cruise and be seen. A little like Ego Ally in Annapolis. We had a lot of fun watching the parade of boats all evening. 

Most of our travel the last two days has been through farm land...with large fields or orchards
Getting close to Lockport
The double locks at Lockport were our last locks going west. Originally there were two sets of five locks that lifted boats 50', those locks were replaced in 1918. The northern flight of five are still in place for visitors to see. I'll have more on these locks in another post. The new lock is on the left...the flight of five are on the right.
Here we are entering the first lock. We will be lifted 25' and then move right into the next lock that will lift us another 25'.
 Looking up to the Flight of Five Winery that is located in the old city hall building
Leaving lock 35...no more locks going west.
Leaving Lockport
There are a lot of houseboats...boat houses around Tonawanda. We thought they were very cute.
Getting close to Tonawanda...notice how pretty the water is now.
Gateway Harbor in Tonawanda
This is the end of the Erie...where the Tonawanda Creek and the Niagara River meet. This is looking north to Niagara Falls.
We enjoyed watching the boats come and go all evening.
Sign at Gateway Harbor
Looking across the creek to The Pearl.
A view from the Webster Street Bridge looking east.