The middle section of Erie Canal

This is our fourth day navigating on the Erie Canal.   We left Utica Saturday morning at 6:30 so we would be at Lock 20 Whitesboro when it opened at 7:00.  Today will be a longer day with 60 mile to navigate and three locks.   The rain has quit and the weather is very comfortable when we started out this morning.

Lock 20 at Whitesboro will be our last lock going up and will have now reached our highest point of 420 feet on the Erie Canal.    Whitesboro has an attractive canal park that boarders the upper northern wall of the lock.

Construction of the Erie Canal started in Rome, NY on July 4, 1817 and is the start of the middle section of the Erie Canal.  Rome is home to Fort Stanwix built-in 1758 by General John Stanwix  during the French and Indian War to protect the important portage between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek that leads to Lake Ontario and French Canal.

Lock 21 New London is our first lock going down as up to this point we have been lifted in all the locks.   Going down is a whole lot easier to keep the boat on the wall than locking up.   We had an audience when we left the lock they were waving to us and wanted to know where we started from.

It is about 14 miles from Utica to Rome and the surrounding southern hills, are where the British and Indians figures ambushed General Nicholas Herkimers troops on their way to Fort Stanwix in Rome.  It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War.  The American victory was the first setback in the British campaign of 1777.  Between Rome and just west of Lock 22 the Erie Canal crosses the height of land (summit level) that separates the Mohawk River Basin (flowing east) from the Wood Creek Basin (flowing west).  In the early 1800s, Rome NY was the portage point for canoes and small boats coming up the Mohawk River and carried across land to Wood Creek to continue their journey west via Lake Oneida to Lake Ontario.  From this point west, the canal  drops in elevation as it approaches the level of the Oswego River.

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Then we saw Bellamy Harbor Park located at one end of the famous stretch of the Old Erie Canal on the east side of Rome.   The park is designed to serve the people of Rome as well as boaters along the Erie Canal.  Bellamy Harbor has been remodeled and reconstructed by N. Y. State Canal Co.

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After we pass under Guard gate 7 and six miles on the south bank we saw a junction lock from the old Erie Canal which has been made into a dry lock.   I love to see sections of what the Erie Canal looked like when it was built-in 1817.

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Holmes Marina is where the Old Oneida Canal entered Wood Creek.  The Oneida Canal ran SE from this point to Higginsville on the original Erie canal.  This canal operated from 1835 to 1863.  The Old Oneida Canal was closed in 1863 because the wooden locks had deteriorated to the point the they we’re unsafe.  Although these locks were supposed to be replaced by stone locks it never happened, instead the New Oneida Canal opened in 1877.  In 1915 the Erie Canal was enlarged and made into the NY Barge Canal.  This canal entered Oneida Lake at Sylvan Beach and the original Erie Canal which passed south of Oneida Lake was closed cutting off canal traffic to Durnhamville and Syracuse to the south of Oneida Lake.

The first major stop we have since Rome is Sylvan Beach on the east end of Lake Oneida a little summer beach town.  The community was founded in 1840 and used by Native Americans mostly for its supply of fish.  Now with public transportation in the form of railroads and ferries made the village a desirable resort community since the 19th century.  The village is home to a beach, an amusement park, camping facilities, marinas and a wide variety of restaurants and shops.  Situated on the eastern shore of Oneida Lake it attracts many boaters as we saw when navigating through to the lake.

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One of three identical lighthouses built-in 1915 stands in Verona Beach on the eastern end (where we entered the lake) across the canal from Sylvan Beach, the second one on Frenchman’s Island, and third one near Bremerton.   Oneida Lake twenty-two miles of open shallow water are notorious for blowing up into a ferocious boil of wind and waves.  To provide passage on the potentially hazardous lake to mariners of burdened vessels, the state constructed three rather large lighthouses.  Despite the periodic assaults the barge Canal lighthouses have been remarkably durable and are still in service.

We were hoping for calm winds when we crossed Lake Oneida today Saturday and they were.  The lake is 22 miles long and five wide the largest body of water on the Erie Canal.  From the earliest times until the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, the lake was part of an important waterway connecting the Atlantic seaboard of North America to the continental interior.  The lake is named for the Oneida, the Iroquoian Native American tribe that historically occupied a large region around the lake, one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois.

The original Erie Canal passed to the south of Lake Oneida.  Remember that originally the canal was nothing more than a ditch which mules and horse pulled barges through.  Lake Oneida was too large and there were no self-propelled boats on the canal then.  Brewerton was nearly forgotten as trade and boats passed to the south.  As time went on self-propelled boats were introduced to the canal and 1917 when the Erie Canal was enlarge and relocated it passed right through Lake Oneida and Brewerton again began to prosper as a boat building center.

We are docked at Winter Harbor Marina Brewerton, NY for two days as the winds are supposed to pick up on Sunday Fathers Day.  There are several loopers staying at this marina.  We have Jim & Mandy ( Shells Bell) Connie (Simpatico), Michael (The Perch), Liz &Johnny (Anchor Down) and some loopers we have not met.  On my walk last night I counted nine looper boats in the Marina.  We had some excitement last night a 65 foot Blue Water Yacht, being escorted by the Fire Department, was coming into the harbor to be lifted it was taking on water.  The fire department supplied them with a high volume pump or they would have sunk.  The Yacht hit some rocks on Lake Oneida and put a hole in the bottom of the boat by the starboard (right) shaft.  Now there is not a lot of room between the boats docked on each side navigating to the boat lift.  We all helped pull the boat in by handing off the ropes as the boat went by ours.  The Blue Water Yacht was not under power.  Thanks to a lot of team work the Blue Water Yacht is safely on land and no damage was done to any boats as it passed by to the lift.

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We have one more lock to go through Lock 23 Brewerton before we come to the canal junction as we are going north on the Oswego Canal and leaving the Erie Canal.

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We had a sever thunderstorm come through tonight with strong winds and heavy rains.  This is our sunset after the rain has slowed down.

I  want to wish all the fathers today present and those that are in Heaven  a Happy Fathers Day.

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