As you know, on the way back from Buffalo in May 2019, I stumbled upon the PORT BYRON OLD ERIE CANAL HERITAGE PARK, learned of the Canal Society of New York State, joined the society, and have enjoyed their field trips since then. It was now time to head to Auburn, NY, for the Spring 2023 Field Trip. Not starting until Sunday at 1PM, I left early Saturday the 22nd to have a day and a half to explore.

Route 9 across Vermont through Bennington, I headed west on NY 7 until reaching NY 22 where I turned right to see Hoosick Falls. Never been there before – and I advise you make that turn as well to see the old Town. Then joining with Route 67, I headed west. through Ballston Spa (stopping at the antique center to score with a purchase of four books) and in Amsterdam I cheated and jumped on the super-slab, stopping again at this “rest area.”

the apparent “bridge to nowhere” is more noticeable off season when the water is drained from the canal.

in season the gates would be lowered, raising the level of the Mohawk River so the lock may be used. Hopefully this panel will help explain.

Exiting in Utica, I headed west on NY 5 into Chittenango where the canal was located. My third time passing through, in November 2019, I was able to visit the canal museum, closed this trip, but here is the museum from the trail parking lot, and also looking back east.

continuing west, I stopped at the Camillus Erie Canal Park, and found it open Saturday afternoon in “off season.” YEAH. The museum is in the Sims’ Store Museum.

by now you should know I love 19th and early 20th century Country Stores, and have my bookshop looking like one with my collections. Here is what I saw upon entry.

The small but interesting museum is on two floors. The important feature of this location is the Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct. To the east, I did not walk down to see the restoration last time through.

There are/were many aqueducts on the Erie Canal facilitating the canal to cross over rivers and valleys. I have had a hard time understanding their construction, but this model helped — in this post (and the next post) – I hope to give you an appreciation of that construction and their function.

at the top of the image above you see the towpath, then a canal boat in a trough holding the water of the canal. The lower side of the image you see the support structures, and the river the canal is crossing flows underneath.

Coming back downstairs there was a woman talking to the docent, and I said, “I know you, you are Dan Wiles’ wife, the park’s director.” “Yes,” Lisa replied, and now I will remember her name. Integral to the Erie Canal and its preservation and history, I met Dan in 2008 or 2009 on my first trip after loosing my Cathy. I travelled the Erie Canal for three days with Dan when he owned Mid-Lakes Navigation. Then I had a great adventure with he and Lisa on my first Canal Society adventure in 2019. A great chat (remember timing is everything), Lisa then told me I could drive down to the aqueduct – perfect considering my current walking ability – but since then learning some new P/T tricks am becoming much improved. Off I went on the side road for about a mile to the parking lot, and then the short distance down to the aqueduct.

here are some plaques to read, and then a great drone image I found on line which puts it all into perspective.

The “trunk” of the aqueduct (what holds the water) here is made of wood replicating how it was originally built. I first had a difficult time understanding the construction on the side opposite the tow-path, The supports in the image above carry the towpath on the far side, but nothing on the opposite side. I kept trying to figure out what was supposed to be there, finally understanding nothing. You will see this even clearer in my next post which will include the Richmond Aqueduct we visited Monday on the field trip.

Arriving at the Holiday Inn in Auburn, NY, (not my choice – but clean and institutional – with all extras now eliminated, e.g. no pad of paper and pen, only flimsy plastic cups, soap dispensers which are actually probably wiser for the environment, but saving them money) I checked in, and then figured would have dinner in Weedsport or Port Byron. On the way I stopped at the Centreport Aqueduct, which I also visited in October, 2014. Stopping helped me get a clearer idea of aqueducts – sometimes “I am slow.” The image on the left is the canal “ditch” leading west to the aqueduct supports – remember you may “click” my galleries for larger images.

Sunday morning before the field trip commenced at the Port Byron Canal Center on the turnpike (but there is a pedestrian entrance from Route 31) I had many options for exploration. I finally decided circling down to Ithaca and around the Finger Lakes pushing it, so I headed to again see Seneca Falls, which I enjoyed in September 2013 – scary almost ten years ago.

Part of the Cayuga-Seneca Barge Canal was on the itinerary for Monday, but on my last visit I did not realize there was a double lock system here, so I found them, and can share Locks 2 and 3 on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal.

heading back to the village, I again had to share with you IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE BRIDGE, this time from a different angle.

I continued west on Route 20 to Waterloo and stopped at the Memorial Day museum. I visited here also in September 2013. It was  in Waterloo that on May 5, 1866, the first Memorial Day exercises were held honoring those who had lost their lives in the War Between the States. Some quick images.

Then heading west again to Geneva where I turned north on Route 14 towards Lyons (trust you got your paper maps out). I was in Lyons in October 2014, and shared with you (great old movie theater), but here are some new images I took there of the lock. We need to learn about this “Peppermint Capital” claim.

From Lyons, east on Route 31 (which remember essentially follows Clinton’s Ditch) towards Clyde. I have always been extremely cognizant of what is along the side of the road, but would you have spotted this?

On private property (not posted, and I live by New Hampshire laws) this is Enlarged Erie Canal Lock No. 53, built in 1841. A second chamber was added in 1874. Some detail below. 

One hundred and eighty years old – amazing. During the field trip I listened to “Amazing Ted” recount many of his explorations to find original canal locations. Studying maps and records he will pound on doors and ask permission to traipse through the woods to find Erie Canal remains, but here this was right in front of me. You just have to know what you see and be able to identify it. I am still having too much fun.

I arrived at the  PORT BYRON OLD ERIE CANAL HERITAGE PARK about 12:30, ready to partake in another fun society field trip. And, in time I will share the next day and a half with you. I promise, and I hope I am providing both some learning and enjoyment. As always, luv, RAY

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1 Response to TRAVELING TO AN “ERIE” EXPERIENCE — 22 and 23 APRIL 2023

  1. George Lush says:

    Hi Ray! One of my best friends from dental school practiced in Lyons, NY. He was also the forensic odontologist for whatever county that’s part of. Dr. Randy Mitchell. Great guy. We’re still in touch. Two weeks ago I rode the Grand Canyon Railway into the park. Rode in a dome observation car that was used on the California Zephyr. It’s a 65 mile ride from Williams, AZ to the Canyon. Fabulous! Stay well and keep your wheels turning. Regards, George

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