Today, history came alive on the Erie Canal. We sailed from Newark to Lyons this morning and were met by Bob Stopper who graciously gave us a land tour of his home town and the surrounding three Erie Canals: Clinton’s Ditch (the original 1817-1825); the second canal (1836-1862); the third canal – entirely new and enlarged canal system (1905-1918). We knew the third canal, as that is what we have been navigating onboard Bushranger.
What we didn’t know was the extent and the reasons behind the first two canals. The town of Lyons was the convergence of all three canals. Bob Stopper took us on an historical trip to ’discover’ Clinton’s Ditch, the shallowest (uniformly 4 feet deep) and narrowest of the canals.
We then went slightly further afield to see the second enlarged canal, with its rock-hewn locks and canal walls. Close by, sometimes crossing over Clinton’s Ditch, the second canal is wider and deeper.
This is old Lock 54, known as Lock Berlin. This is where we also saw a snake at our feet! Thankfully, it slithered into a hole between the canal rocks.
Bob Stopper showed us the rich history of the area around Lyons and how it is marvellously woven to form the life story of the Erie Canal. We are very appreciative of his knowledge and hospitality – he has made this part of our trip come ‘alive’.
All along the canal is the towpath mules used to drag the barges. These towpaths are now a cycling and walking pathway, the Empire State Trail, which crosses the state.
Earlier in the day, before we left Newark, Bob had emailed suggesting places to visit. We walked along the canal until we came to Lock 28B. The grounds and surrounds are beautifully kept. Inside the lock house is the original equipment in shiny condition.
But then, on Bob’s advice, we went a little further and ’discovered’ Lock 59, once used on the second canal, complete with lock house. What a find!
I love history!
Such is Life!