After my Oswego Canal trip in early May I started doing more research on the Champlain Canal to see if there was a boat I could rent to explore the canal since all the Erie Canal boats had already been booked up for the season. Shortly after, still early May, I found one of the last two seats on the Mohawk Maiden Cruise’s CALDWELL BELLE “Free History Cruise with Hudson Crossing Park.” It was for Thursday, 4 August, plenty of planning time. And, then on May 28, I found and bought the “new” LADYRAB III – my 1959 FAN Sportsman’s Friend – a classic “Canned Ham.” See where I am going with my planning? A first “maiden” outing with LADYRAB III to coincide with my Mohawk Maiden cruise. The plan – to explore the locks and old route of the Champlain Canal before and after my boat trip, and see more of New York’s Washington County. I found a spot at a campground in Cambridge, NY, somewhat central to my explorations. And, we settled in…
Ironically, the street adjoining the grounds, to the rear of my spot, is…
As much as I have read and studied, I cannot still totally keep straight all the important things that happened along this corridor from Albany north to Lake Champlain to Canada. The French and Indian War, and the American Revolution with its turning point here. I started in Schulyerville at Fort Hardy Park where the British surrendered October 17, 1777, at the spot below.
If you study a close up map you will see that in most of this area the Hudson River is on the east of some islands of land, and the old canal route (and other water ways) to the west. Enjoying maps I found Towpath Road and headed down — but it narrowed, became private property, no place to turn around, and fortunately I did not go for a swim extricating myself. This was not the narrowest spot of the path – if I had taken an image at a narrow spot, I would have gotten wet.
With my boat trip at 3PM, I planned to head to Lock C3 in Mechanicville and work my way back up. Below is Lock C3 looking south. I bought a sandwich before arriving here and ate under the only tree at a picnic bench. Many of the lock properties have recreational areas for the public. When I passed through here in early May the canal was not yet opened, and the gate was locked.
The locks are operated even for kayaks cruising the canal. There was a boat in the lock as well north of these kayaks.
Lock C4 is in Stillwater, NY. US Route 4 follows much of this route from Whitehall south to Albany.
north of the lock was this assortment below of Canal Corporation work vessels.
History abounds along this someone rural route with small towns that are probably unchanged since the 1920s. Saratoga National Park, Freeman’s Farm, many markers and sites of historic import. Below is the “Saratoga Surrender Site” looking east down to the Hudson. This is where Burgoyne turned over his sword on October 17 – kind of confusing with the “surrender tree” site above — back to my history books to understand – so much happened it is really confusing.
A tad north is the Philip Schuyler Country Estate – and someday I will be traveling through when it is open. Destroyed by the British October 10, 1777, it was rebuilt, and now restored to its early 1800s appearance. The original canal ran along to the rear, and someday I have to find the aqueduct over the adjoining stream.
“Downtown Schylerville” and up the hill to the west is the Saratoga Monument, a 155 foot stone obelisk. Ccompleted in 1883 it stands where Burgoyne’s camp was entrenched during the campaign’s final days.
It was then time (well I am always early) to head to Lock C5 for my canal cruise. Arriving there I walked around, and to the west of the new “barge canal” is the old route and the entrance to this old lock – now blocked off.
and, I walked over to Lock C5 for the images below.
and, then headed down to the landing and pier for the Caldwell Belle as she was arriving.
There were only six of us for the tour (limited still due to COVID) and the park tour guide. The guide was late, the family of five did not arrive until shortly after we were supposed to leave (as did the history guide) so I got to visit with Captain Marla and her “skeleton crew.”
The family of five arrived, as did our history guide, and off we went to head south through Lock C5.
we went south a tad, then headed back north into Lock C5.
below part of the divide of the Hudson River and our passage – this is looking south.
I chatted with Captain Marla, and hope to charter her craft for a tour with friends from Schylerville to Whitehall before the end of the season, but for now, paddle away….
One thing I have learned about Washington County, New York, is the relative lack of lodging options as well as limited eating options. Wednesday night was alright at a family Italian restaurant in Greenwich, but Thursday night heading back to camp, the tavern and restaurant I stopped at in Greenwich was a disaster. I ordered onion soup and the special. Eventually my wine came with the comment, “no soup.” Another thirty minutes waiting for the special, that should be ready to serve, I went to the bar and said, “I am no longer waiting, what do I owe you for my half-glass of wine?” The server seemed to be alone outside the kitchen, tied up on the phone with orders, then listened to me, played with the cash register, and turned back to me saying, “you are all set.” Thank you said Ray, and he exited.
The day before I wanted to drive through the Village of Shushan, New York, on the way to the campground, but WAZE would not let me. Thursday morning I tried again to see Shushan. But, two miles east from the campground I turned the corner, down the hill to see the roof of the covered bridge, and only the abutments to the new bridge being rebuilt. The campground had flyers for the Shushan Covered Bridge and School House Museum (you know I collect all this stuff), and also Yushak’s Market – established 1941, now second generation. A village in Salem, it is not named South Salem as the residents wanted because the “Post Office Department in Washington D.C. objected because Salem already appeared so frequently on the list of the United States post offices. The officials, therefore, christened the place “Shushan,” a good Bible name, and it was suggestive of royal magnificence.”
NOW HERE IT GETS CONFUSING – I grew up three hours to the SOUTH of Salem, NY in Connecticut, and just WEST of me was NORTH SALEM, NY — but to ease your pain, SOUTH SALEM does exist and is only 15 minutes SOUTH of NORTH SALEM, which then makes it three hours and fifteen minutes SOUTH of SALEM. I know, you are worn out now.
So with no dinner I headed back to the campground, but remembered another route into Shushan. I made the turn. I love Shushan, and it is worth a visit four miles from the Vermont border.
I arrived after 6PM, saw lights on at Yuskak’s and went in. “Sorry we are closed,” I was told. But they let me look around, I pulled a prepared dinner, and they heated it up for me. I enjoyed it “at camp.” So the images below are of Shushan (the next day), and my prepared squash lasagna dinner. The images below basically are the town. Remember you can click my galleries for larger views.
And, besides the Georgi Park Park and Museum, you need to go to Shushan to see the Shushan Covered Bridge Museum and School House Museum. I was there too early in the day to peek inside.
It was then, on Friday, north on remote Washington County roads with rolling views, fields, corn, and horses (remember Saratoga is just to the west). I arrived in Whitehall, and stopped at the Skenesborough Museum and Heritage Area Visitor Center, not having been there in about 12 years. Nice history starting with this diorama display.
Here was the birthplace of the U.S. Navy where the first ships were built for the American revolution. But for some background on Skenesborough, Major Phillips Skene, an officer in the British army during the French and Indian Wars, established the first settlement here in 1759. Skene became familiar with the area while serving as a Major of Brigade at the British fort in Crown Point. He settled more than 73 families and scans borough by 1773. Now Whitehall, the Champlain Canal connects here with the southern reach of Lake Champlain, connecting the route to the St. Lawrence River.
Over hearing a conversation, I learned I could have lunch at the Skene Manor. BLUE BELLE and I visited the outside only in 2015.
an aerial view (not my drone) and then some interior views, my lunch, and the view out the front door to Whitehall in a gallery.
At Whitehall is LOCK C12, which I have reported on before – CLICK THIS LINK FOR LOCK C12 also some Lock C9.
and, I have also shared my visit at LOCK C11 – and CLICK HERE FOR LOCK C11 – same report as above
LOCK 10 was never built as planned in the early 1800s, so, next here is LOCK C9
looking at my maps, from here south on the west side of the barge canal was Towpath Road – obviously along the original canal bed – so off I went heading to Lock C8. The road did indeed follow the old canal all the way.
entering the road heading south to Lock C8 it is a long straight stretch of open land and waterway. Here is looking north once I was almost at Lock C8.
and below, looking south to Lock C8.
there is so much history along the Hudson River in this area. I have been trying to visit the Rogers Island Museum at Fort Edward for years, but it has always been closed. I finally got in, and there is so much history here.
I still have explorations to accomplish in Fort Edward, including the Old Fort Museum which I never seem to be able to fit in when in the area. But I did find an old Lock at 9 Argyle Street – an Old Junction Log – if I had found this link before writing I would have explored more – guess another reason to return. Below is the lock as I saw it, and across the street the Hudson River.
In Fort Edward is also Lock C7 where I had a wonderful visit with the Lockmaster in June 2016 – scroll to end of that post. But, I had to stop again, of course. Below looking south to the Hudson.
Even traveling down Route 4 there is not much built up, but I did stop at this Guard Gate to share with you. Wanting to learn why it was there, I found another website that I wish I had remembered to study in detail. Take a look at this Champlain Canal document on the Erie Canal Website (official title – NEW YORK STATE CANALWAY WATER TRAIL GUIDEBOOK – you can download PDFs, I want to find a hardcopy)– but here is the detail on the Guard Gate – “Guard Gate, Crocker Reef — This 55-foot-wide guard gate is suspended from lattice steel towers and is normally open throughout the navigation season. It was built in 1914 to protect the 2.25-mile land-cut section from here to Lock C6, allowing it to be drained in winter and for maintenance. It is the only guard gate on the Champlain Canal.”
Many of the lock accesses to recreation areas are closed between 4:30 and 5 when the locks shut down, so I wanted to get to Lock C6 before the witching hour. But, not the case here since a road crosses a bridge just below Lock C6. So here is Lock C6, and then the small bridge built in 1907.
If you got this far — THANK YOU – remember I write for myself to remember, but enjoy sharing. Hopefully you can find an interest to stimulate and focus your travels around. It has taken me over a week to pull this post together. With the heat and humidity the beginning of this adventure I was thinking “never again” but in my writing and review, and finding the detailed guide with maps, I will head back again at some point. ENJOY and EXPLORE, luv, RAY