Erie Canal

July 23, 2007

This is going to be a short post, since I have been up since 4 AM after going to bed at 11 PM. It is now 8 PM and I have to be up at 4 AM again tomorrow. I just had to tell about our little adventure today.

We have quite a treasure almost literally in our backyard. The Erie Canal runs from Lake Erie, near Lockport in Western NY to the Hudson River in Albany, NY. We live very near the canal, and love to watch boats as they travel along it, however we rarely go for walks along the “canal trail,” originally the towpath because large portions of it are quite secluded and probably not entirely safe for the kids and I alone. Today Jeff suggested that we take the kids and go for a walk along the canal. We decided to go to a nearby town that we rarely go to and start there. Joe got all excited, so we took him along.
This boat was docked along the edge of the canal. Curious about the name, I looked it up on Google and found that it is named for the man who played an integral role in establishing the canal system in New York State. Dewitt Clinton was the Governor of NY from 1817 – 1823 and again from 1825 – 1828. He also ran for President in 1812, but was defeated by Madison. Clinton, “Father of the Erie Canal” had opposition who referred to the proposed canal as Clinton’s ditch.

As we walked along the canal path, a boat came along that could not fit under the very low bridge in the village. Traffic stopped, a bell rang, crossing gates were lowered, and the bridge was lifted. It is not the type of bridge you typically think of when you think of a lift bridge. The entire deck raises straight up so the deck is parallel with the water. Once the bridge was lifted, the boat was able to pass underneath. Here is the bridge lifted to its full height.

After walking for about 1 mile in the 80 degree weather, Joe was tired out and very warm. We had brought water for him, but he was content, after a long draw of water, to lay on the cool cement for a while.

We had parked on the opposite side of the bridge from where the path is, so we had to cross the lift bridge. It has one of those open grate steel decks, of which Joe was NOT particularly fond. He stuck to me like glue on the way to start our walk. On the way back he sat and refused to go any further. Wouldn’t fortune have it that as he planted his butt, the bell rang alerting us to the need for the bridge to be lifted again. I scooped Joe up and we ran across so they could lift it. They can’t lift it while people are on it, although they do have sidewalk access for the bridge when it is in it’s fully up position. There are stair towers at each end of the bridge, so when it is fully up, you could walk up the stairs, across the bridge, and back down the stairs on the other side.

We didn’t walk very far, but we had a good time today. After coming back home, I learned some new things about the Erie Canal.

On a kind of funny note…We stopped at a fast food restaurant on the way to the canal, to get food for lunch. Joe knows this particular restaurant and knows that at the window, food comes into the car and oftentimes he gets a burger out of the deal. Well, I gave Joe his burger, sans bun, wrapping up the bun for later, thinking we might see some ducks. Sure enough, we saw a mama duck and 4 ducklings swimming in the canal. I divided up the bun and gave it to the kids to feed the ducks. The ducks refused to come take the bread. They wouldn’t even swim over to look at it. They just ignored us and kept swimming. At this point, Jeff put on his best mama duck impersonation, and said “Now kids, we don’t take bread from strangers! Just keep swimming, don’t even look at them!” It was rather funny and we all had a good laugh.

I think perhaps I sense an Erie Canal unit study in my children’s future. Hmmm…


  1. Hey Carly!! It sounds like you guys had a fun day! I love that lift gate bridge thing!!! Poor little Joe….must have petrified him looking down and seeing grate under his paws instead of ground!!!
    Oh, and I do remember reading about Clinton’s ditch because Pepsi was bottled in a place called Clinton’s Ditch and I ran into the info while researching!

  2. Love the pictures. It looks a lot bigger than our canals, some of which are slowly being restored, hopefully to rejoin the mineral railway at Chasewater. I think my dog looks like a king-size version of yours!

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