Denise Goldberg's blog

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A canal of many names

My drive home from visiting my folks this past weekend took a couple of hours longer than the distance required. I've been tempted by a "no unauthorized personnel" sign on the eastbound side of New York Thruway that appears to be the entrance to one of the locks on the canal. It's not really acceptable to pull off on the side of a limited access highway to go wandering with my camera, but the thought has occurred to me on more than one occasion.

Instead of hopping on the Thruway to head home, I headed down routes 5 and 5S, stopping at Lock 19 in Schuyler and Lock 18 in Herkimer. If you look at a map you can see that the roads, canal, and river snake about, crossing each other, crossing back again. There was a railroad bridge just past Lock 19. Oh! That would be an interesting spot to catch a train rolling by. Hmm... I guess I'll need to go back. I was lucky enough to watch a tour boat traverse Lock 18, and to chat with the lockmaster as he worked.

I had to look up the name of the canal when I reached home Sunday evening. I remembered it as the Erie Canal and as the Barge Canal, but I wasn't sure of the official name. It turns out that it was renamed the New York State Barge Canal after it was widened and rebuilt between 1905 and 1918. It was renamed again (recently) as the New York State Canal System. What's in a name?

Curious about the canal? You can read a brief history on the New York State Canals site, and you can gather information to drive your explorations at the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor site.

along the barge canal

lock opening, New York State Canal System

More photos can be seen in the gallery A canal, two locks, birds.