Tonawanda to Lockport
27 August 2008 | Lockport, NY
Temp in the 70s mostly sunny during the day – clouding up this evening
This morning after some coffee, Wayne took his test, and then we walked to Walgreens after calling the doc. The numbers are good cherubs - no worries.
We lazed along the Erie up to Lockport - this is where we'll go through our first locks and begin the trip through all the lift bridges and through the little towns along the way. We've just started the canal transit and I'm already impressed with it just thinking about its history and seeing all the wildlife along the banks and in the water. It's kinda cool passing by Victorian bed & breakfasts and a couple of quaint canal side inns, parks and small marinas. Saw a few blue herons and the males are really pretty - blue tinged; The geese are starting to flock and practice their v formations and I'm hoping that I got a shot of a solitary heron sitting on the branch of a dead tree - I couldn't quite see it in the viewfinder. Saw a lot of turtles sunbathing on passing branches and on the logs/rocks near the shoreline, and the wildflowers were breathtaking in places. One depressing part was seeing some of the maple trees starting to turn bright orange & red in splotches.
When we got close to Lockport the transportation dept was working on one of the 5 bridges right before the lock and a cable was hanging low and across the water, so we swung around and tied to the north canal wall. It's kinda isolated here, but definitely in walking distance to the locks (34 and 35) so we walked up to the locks to see what we needed to do and pay for a season pass ($75) so we can lollygag through the towns without rushing. It was impressive watching the locks operate - we watched the lockmaster open and flood the locks for 2 boats (1 canal rental and 1 tour boat) passing through and chatted with him about procedures and the history of the locks. He showed me how he seals them, and works the controls to flood and empty them then gave me some maps and brochures and talked about some of the places along the way and the lift bridges. It was fascinating to watch and to listen to him.
Anyhow - a little history from the Lock Master at Lock 35: The Erie Canal opened in 1825 and connects with hundreds of miles of lakes and rivers across the state of New York, linking the Great Lakes with the Hudson River and 5 other waterways in Canada. It's quite a marvel - It took 7 years to build and was really the engineering marvel of its day having been constructed without one single professional engineer! It cut through 363 miles of wilderness, featured 18 aqueducts and 83 locks, with a rise of 568 ft. from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. We all agreed that we need more Teddy Roosevelt's - he really left a wonderful legacy of parks and water passages that we wouldn't otherwise have today. A lot of the lock master and lift bridge tenders are positions that have been passed down among families. There's a lot of family pride along the Erie Canal and I can see why.
After a tour of the bridge operations we walked back to the boat and poured over the brochures and maps, then made dinner (BBQ pork chops, broccoli slaw and sweet corn). I'm working off battery power again so this won't get posted until tomorrow. It was exhilarating watching the locks operate and knowing that tomorrow we'll be going through them. There are two back to back here, each with a 25-foot drop. Spectacular to watch those boats go through - I'm glad we stopped to watch first - thanks NY transportation dept. We'd have gone right through if not for your low cable! Two guys fishing on the wall across from us were catching some small perch shaped fish - I know what they're having for dinner tonight!
The picture above is of the Lockmaster at Gate 35