Log Erie Canal: Seneca Falls to Little Falls September 14-17, 2005
After leaving Seneca
Falls, we traveled back through the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, which
consists of thousands of acres of marshland. It is mostly wetland areas interspersed
with hummocks. Both cattails and bamboo stands thrive here, neither dominating.
Birdlife is extensive with many heron, osprey and we saw the largest bald
eagle we have ever observed. These wetlands do a wonderful job of cleaning
the waters of the canal.
At this point, the canal
shifts from a manmade structure bordered by towpaths to a route following
natural waterways. There is much to say for both of these very different sections
of the canal. The western section roughly follows the path of the original
1817 canal, which was updated and enlarged twice. The villages that line this
portion of the canal were built after and because of the canal. There is little
industry in this area and farming
predominates. The eastern portion of the
canal follows natural waterways and passes through villages and cities that
existed as much as 100 years before the canal. There is much more industry
in these towns. Early on, there were woolen mills and other small factories.
Later, they were replaced by refineries and heavier industry. However, the
stretches between towns are much more beautiful and natural and filled with
The towns are full of
history reaching centuries into the past. The topography is much more hilly
and varied. Groundbreaking for the Erie Canal was in Rome, NY. Seven miles
north of Lock 21 near Rome, is the Erie Canal Village, which is located on
the original canal. Here, community life as it was on the canal is recreated.
When the canal was completed in 1825, Governor De Witt Clinton traveled in
a procession of canal boats from Buffalo to Albany and then all of the way
to New York City. He carried a barrel of Lake Erie water and poured it into
the Atlantic. This "Wedding of the Waters" was a masterstroke of PR, and captured
the imagination of a nation.
The Oswego River connects
the canal to Lake Ontario and is used by Canadians from Toronto to make their
passage south. At Brewerton, we first saw the Taff-O-Dyl and we traveled in
company with Taff and Dilys Olden for a portion of the canal.
We crossed 30-mile long
Oneida Lake in the early morning rain. The lake is shallow much like Lake
St. Clair and it is said that waves build quite high by the afternoon. We
stopped for the night below Lock 20 and were given a tour of the beautifully
of the lock. The next day, we traveled
to Little Falls. This town of 5000 has a charming mix of
architecture from Victorian
and Federalist and other styles. We met Harbormaster extraordinaire Tom Ryan
and Kim Kelly and their famous Labrador retriever, Burke, who gave us an autographed
copy of his book, "Burke
The Erie Canal Boat Dog". We celebrated Mike's birthday
with a wonderful dinner at the Canal Inn one night and then at Beardsley
Castle on the 17th. The Castle is a notorious haunt
of ghosts, although we did not see any ghosts while there.