Nine Locks in a Day

They come fast, the locks on the Erie Canal, when you enter on the east end. Some were less than a quarter-mile apart. The first set of five locks as we left Waterford is called a “flight”… like a flight of stairs…because they collectively take up just a few miles. It took two hours to go through “the flight.” Further west, the locks were five or 10 miles apart.

That’s how we ended up going through nine locks in eight hours during our first day on the Erie Canal. (What’s the rush? Ask Skipper Jeff! 😄) Almost 40 miles later, we are still in the Mohawk River segment of the canal; the fully-manmade part comes later.

By the time we reach Buffalo N.Y. on the west end, we will have traveled through 35 locks and 350 miles. This normally takes at least a week. I hope it will take us quite a bit more. (That depends on whether I can persuade Jeff to slow down a bit.)

Canals were first used for transportation in the U.S. at the end of the 1700s. Of course they were small canals then, built for transport over short distances. The Dismal Swamp Canal, which opened in 1784, was my favorite part of the Great Loop (though the Hudson River comes close.) The Erie Canal opened in 1825 and was very successful until railroads arrived in the early 1900s.

Photos and captions below of our 1st day on the Erie Canal. (I am doing this blog on my phone, so please excuse any typos. If I wait until we have electricity, I’ll forget half of this so I try to blog each day.)

All of our locks today were “locking up,” meaning we enter when the water is low and exit when it is high. “Locking up” is more turbulent than “locking down.”
Many Moons inside a lock as we wait for the water to start rushing in. By the time we reach the west end of the canal, we will have risen 560 feet total.
Each lock has a sign showing the distance to the next lock and the amount of lift (when heading west) or drop (when heading east). This lock lifted us 34′. Most of the others were about 12′. We’ve seen only one boat so far that’s heading east.
We took the port (left) side in each lock because our single-engine boat moves more easily in that direction.
It’s a strange sensation as you float to the top of the lock and see what is on land around you.
Sometimes, at the top, you see curious onlookers. Plus plus the canal flag and the flag for the State of New York
All of the locks so far have lines hanging down, and we grab two of them – one on the bow and one on the stern. Some also have a pipe to pull our own line around, amidship.
We followed our friends from Superior Passage all day.
Another boat called Forever Young followed us, and took this picture as the water stopped rising.
We passed under many bridges.
In this first 40 miles of the canal, we also went through some wide areas of the Mohawk River.
And we passed some rock formations that reminded me we are in upstate New York
This small barge filled with sodden logs proves that the state government tries to keep floating hazards out of the canal. (We bumped loudly into one.)
After nine locks, we were forced to stop here at a wall in Amsterdam, N.Y. because the locks here close at 5 PM. (We would have made it through 10 of them if we hadn’t left after nine in order to visit the Farmer’s Market in Waterford.)
We had just enough time to bike around a little bit, including to the Amsterdam Castle. It apparently was built for the New York Army National Guard. (!!) It’s a hotel now.
The inside was even more impressive than the outside. See the coat of armor (knight suit) on the right?
Gargoyles welcomed us into the hotel. (Thought I would throw in a bit of whimsy!)
This 9/11 memorial is close to the wall where we are parked in Amsterdam. It’s a piece of the World Trade Center garage, recognizing the fact that Flight 11 flew over this town on its way to its infamous collision in NYC.
We are parked next to a busy train track. Musical accompaniment tonight!

6 thoughts on “Nine Locks in a Day

  1. All familiar. We just went through the our last NY canal in Oswego. On Lake Ontario now. Waves less than one foot.
    Tom n Joyce


  2. I just passed through 1-23 and Oswego 1-8 on my way to Lake Ontario. Made it home to the Buffalo are f you need anything near here. SV Arista and on behalf of Dad on MV DeDe


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