Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cycling the Erie Canal - Day 4 - Seneca Falls to Syracuse

After the challenging day we had yesterday, today was a picnic in the park!  Perfect temps, sunny, dry, wind at our backs, and only 41.3 miles, with a large portion of it back on the canal path. Couldn't ask for anything better!

Now here is your canal history lesson. There are actually 4 canals through history. The 1st canal, the Erie Canal (also called "Clinton's Ditch"), was only 70 feet wide and 4 feet deep. It had many twists and turns in order to go around rocks, without the ability to blast through. It also connected to/went through lakes, streams and rivers. A few years later came the 1st Enlargement. The canal stayed 70 feet wide and followed mostly the same path, but was deepened to 9 feet, and thus could float larger boats. In 1917 a second Enlargement changed the path, which was made straighter now that they had the ability to use blasting powder to cut through rock, added aqueducts to go over other waterways, and again deepened it and widened it some. Finally the last iteration is our present day New York State Barge Canal, deepened to 12 feet, widened to 128 feet. In some cases the present canal is in the same bed as the original (as is the case in our area) but in other places it follows a completely different path. You have probably seen the abandoned remains of locks along the thruway no where near any water. This bridge in a park in Macedon used to go over the original canal. 

This garden in Jordan is in the original canal bed. 

But in some places the original "Clinton's Ditch" and/or the First Enlargement, still exist with water in them, fed by ground water and various creeks, streams, and tributaries. Today's ride along the canal path followed the course of what remains of the First Enlargement. 

The stone sides of this older canal are much different than our current canal. 

There are benches along the trail periodically to just sit and ponder and near Memphis, NY is this tiny memorial park along the side of the path. Good people from the town were there to tell us about the area and the park and give us water and ice pops. One of the ladies grew up there and used to ice skate on the canal in that spot. 

A quiet, easy day, most contemplative. A day well spent. 

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