Oswego Canal

We wanted to leave Monday morning at 7:00 with 34 miles and 8 locks to go through, however it was pouring down rain so waited until 9:30.   We called Oswego Marina and there is room for us to dock, which was our concern.  Weather will determine in how long we stay at this marina because our next crossing is Lake Ontario.

This is our last lock on the Erie Canal Lock 23 Brewerton it has lock doors but also a gate.  This is a picture as we came out of the lock its beyond words how beautiful it is even when it rains.  This part is called the Oneida River.



Oswego Canal in New York opened in 1828 it’s 23.7 miles in length 14′ deep with seven locks spanning the 118 ft. in elevation.  The canal connects the Erie Canal at Three Rivers (near Liverpool) to Lake Ontario at Oswego.   Like the Erie Canal the Oswego Canal was originally only 4 ft deep and had 18 locks.  The canal was actually a ditch dug alongside the Oswego River and Lake Onondaga which carried barge traffic pulled by mules or horses.  The Oswego like the Erie have been made wider over the years, opening in 1917 a wider and deeper canal with a controlled depth of 12 feet.  The Oswego Canal became shorter because the Erie Canal now passed north of Syracuse through Lake Oneida cutting nearly 14 miles off the original Oswego Canal.  There are only 7 locks on the Oswego Canal even though they are numbered 1-8 as Lock 4 doesn’t exist.  Oswego is the only location in the United States where 982 European refugees from the holocaust were sheltered during World War II.  At the terminus of the Oswego Canal it was used as a harbor extensively in the heyday of the New York Canal system (1825-1950).  Today it still functions as a commercial harbor, but most of the boat traffic consists of pleasure craft.  The Oswego Canal locks support no less than 8 hydro plants providing electricity for many New York families.

Three River point is where the Oswego Canal begins at the junction of the Oneida River (Oneida lake) and Seneca River (seneca Lake) merge to become the Oswego River.  This also marks the junction of the Erie Canal and the Oswego Canal.  The junction of the Oneida and Seneca Rivers was a point easily identified since the early 1700’s.  The Indians used this area as a meeting place.  During the Revolutionary,  French, and Indian Wars this was a place selected for forces to rendezvous prior to moving on in force.  From the three river point the Oswego Canal drops from 363 feet above sea level to  245 feet above at Lake Ontario in seven locks.  These locks are more modern and in better shape than the Erie Locks.IMG_5629

This is Stonwell Island also known as Treasure Island settled in the mid 1600s by Jesuits as a mission.  The story is that in 1658 the French and the Jesuits were fleeting the Indians near Onondaga lake.  They camped on Stowell Island and left behind cannon and gold to lighten their load.  No gold has ever been found but the locals refer to the island as Treasure Island to this say.



Before we reached Phoenix, NY we saw four concrete bridge abutments they used to support the trolley bridge on the line that went between Oswego and Syracuse Phoenix like so many old towns were built almost entirely of wood.   In 1916 Phoenix endured a terrible fire when it burned all their manufacturing and retail business along with many homes when a fire started in a chair factory.  The retail district was rebuilt but the manufacturing business never came back.  The three-story white bridge house adjacent to lock 1 was built-in 1917 and housed the controls for an earlier lift bridge.

Lock 1 Phoenix is the only bascule bridge with a 12′ clearance on the Oswego Canal and needs to be raised.  The lock master raises it when the lock opens.

This is coming out of Lock 1 at Phoenix and the beautiful area along side the Oswego River.

Lock 2 Fulton is a fixed steel bridge with only 5′ clearance spans the lock in the middle.  Only half of the lock can be used unless they raise the bridge.  As the water lowers in the lock there was enough clearance to leave the lock.  Looks pretty intimidating when you first enter the lock.


These pictures I thought were amazing with water spills off to one side,  beautiful shore line, old steps, and homes along the Oswego Canal.

This is Lock 3 also called Fulton next to the city.  There is less than a mile between lock 2 and three.  We had to wait until they opened lock 3 Kent called the lock to find out if there was a problem.  They finally opened the lock and the lock master apologize for not opening in a timely manner.


These are pictures of this amazing view we had coming up to Lock 5 on the Oswego River.  I don’t know which canal is more amazing the Oswego or the Erie.  The Oswego River is the second largest river flowing into Lake Ontario.  The name Oswego is Mohawk name that means “flowing out” or specifically “small water flowing into what which is large.

This is the waterfall on the other side of Lock 5 Minetto as there is no Lock 4.  The original plans called for a lock 4, but as the system developed it was determined that a lock 4 was not needed and it was easier to leave all the other locks numbered as they were.

There are relics of the old Oswego Canal and after we passed Big Island are the remains of Miller Brewery.  One of the biggest brewers in the us bottling over 10 million barrels of beer year until it closed in 1994.  It was hard to see as we were to far away.


Pathfinder Island is named for the lead character in James Fenimore Cooper’s book “The Pathfinder.   The book centers on a trip taken down the Oswego river in 1759.  As we kept navigating  we passed the old Oswego canal locks which a lucky person is now using as a private boat slip.  It was hard to see going north so my picture may not be the best.


This is called Battle Island its the site of a historic battle between the British and the French on July 3, 1756.  I didn’t know there was this much history on the Oswego Canal.

The Fort Ontario of the Six Nations was built-in Oswego by the British in 1755.  This fort was destroyed by the French, rebuilt by the British, destroyed by the Americans, etc.  Over the years the fort at Oswego went from a dirt and wood structure to the impressive stone fort standing on the site today.  Last rebuilt in its preceded day form between 1839-1844 is open to the public as a valued historic landmark.


Lock 6, 7, and 8 Oswego are all within 2 miles so  I just sat on the front of the boat and waited for the next lock.  These three locks cut through the  center of  the City of Oswego.  Westerly winds off the lake can test our boat handling skills in these locks.   This was very impressive coming out of lock 7 into a very narrow alley with fast move water on the other side.  The only thing between us and that fast water is a low concert wall.

The rain had quit and the sun was trying to shine what a great day.


As we headed north on the Oswego canal we found many places where we could tie our boat up with no charge.  Oswego also known as the Gateway to Lake Ontario is the oldest U.S. settlements,  largest U.S. port on Lake Ontario, and is renowned for its lake trout and salmon fishing.  We traveled 24 miles on the Oswego Canal with 14 bridges, and seven locks.

We are staying at Oswego Marina for three days due to bad weather.  We have six other looper boats in the marina with us, we are all leaving Thursday morning.  We will be heading to Kingston, Ontario some will go to Trenton, some are going to Calvin Marina.


Wednesday June 21 my birthday was celebrated at Alex’s on the Water with my best friend, captain, sweetheart, and our great looper friends Johnny and Liz.  We had a great time with good food, good music, and good friends.



Was hoping to be in Canada on my birthday but due to high winds that didn’t happen.  Will be leaving tomorrow morning early and crossing Lake Ontario.  We will be in Kingston, Ontario by tomorrow afternoon if all goes as planned.

Will not be able to blog for a while until we find WIFI, but will keep you all informed  when we can.  Thank you all for the birthday wishes.










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