Day 7: Sylvan Beach to Ilion

Tuesday, August 10, 1999

When we woke, Oneida Lake was perfectly calm. Perhaps it would have been better to cross early in the morning. We couldnít have known easily ahead of time.
Oneida Lake, calm.
The submerged breakwater.
We ate pancakes (of course) at Dellaís Pancake House.

As usual, there were people who were curious about the steamboat.
Many of them!

The tugboat Urger is the oldest tugboat still in use in the state's fleet. It served on the New York State Barge Canal System for sixty-four years, retiring in 1984. It s now used for educational purposes.
One thing that I didnít anticipate about the trip was bug bites. I got a great many of them. Perhaps spiders hid in my sleeping bag. I guess thatís what happens if you carry a lot of wood. Somehow, Al didn't get any.
Hydraulic dredging.
Hydraulic dredge and tender.
We passed through a long wooded stretch of canal.
At Lock 22 (lift 25.1 feet) near New London, we stopped to pick up our wood. The lockmaster let us stop just past the lock (we were going up, as we did for Locks 23, 22, and 21). The people there had a wheelbarrow, which was convenient for getting the wood to us. We had more than we needed, so Al gave the lockmaster the extra wood and the tarp, which he appreciated.

Lock 21 (lift 25.0 feet), about a mile further on and also near New London, marked the summit level. On the Erie Canal from Rochester, we had descended 149.6 feet, then ascended 57.0 feet. . After this, we would descend 390.2 feet.

We docked at the Rome terminal wall so Al could look for filters. The boiler pressure was high and the pressure release valve went off. Al asked a fisherman how long it would take to walk to a NAPA car parts store. He said it was about ten minutes. The distance actually turned out to be about two and a half miles. He stopped in a different store and got four filters, one of one kind (which worked) and three of another (which didnít). The storeowner didnít have any more of the first kind. This stop took about an hour. He did get a glimpse of the reconstructed Fort Stanwix during his journey.

It is about eighteen miles between Locks 21 and 20. When Clintonís Ditch was being built, they started at Rome because they could build a long flat stretch and start out successfully with the fewest technical difficulties in construction and good economic prospects upon completion. On the original canal, the "long level" stretched seventy miles from Syracuse to Frankfort without any locks.

At Rome, we saw the Mohawk River for the first time. It makes a great bend here, flowing from the north, then turning to the east. Here, the Mohawks used to portage over the divide between the Mohawk River, which flows into the Hudson River, and Wood Creek that flows into Oneida Lake and, via the Oswego River, into Lake Ontario.

The Mohawk River Valley, as the only natural passage through the Appalachian Mountains, was the route for Indians, fur traders, and westward-moving immigrants.

From our vantage point, Utica held little of interest.
Leaving Lock 21.
We blew our whistle.
I needed to call Mary because people at school were trying to get in touch with me. There was a canal park at Lock 20 (lift 16.0 feet) near Whitesboro that was supposed to have a pay phone, so we planned to stop there. It turned out that the pay phone had been taken out, but the lockmaster said we could use his phone for a credit card call. So we pulled into the lock and stayed there while I called her.

Sailboat with windmill.
In this area and downstream of it, there was a lot of debris in the water, with large logs and branches to watch out for.
The steel-hulled icebreaker tugboat Gov. Roosevelt.
Dump scaw and dredge.
The nature of the canal changed after a while. We could see a hill in the distance, our first glimpse of the Mohawk River Valley.
Our first view of hills in the distance.
Hills of the Mohawk River Valley.
At Lock 19 (lift 21.0 feet) near Frankfort, we locked through with two large boats from Mystic, CT. A little beyond this, at Frankfort, the Mohawk River flowed into the canal. From here through Lock 16 at St. Johnsville, we were sometimes to be on the river itself and sometimes not. From St. Johnsville on, we stayed on the river.

We had decided to push on to the Ilion Village Marina. We arrived there about 8:00 p.m., having left at 10:00 a.m. Al had kept the boiler well stoked. We went along at perhaps 6 m.p.h. We were using wood faster than he had estimated, so he had to be slightly concerned about the amount we had. We were probably okay and had coal as a backup.

We had a late dinner at Sorrentoís in town, consuming a cheesesteak sandwich, Buffalo wings,and salad. I was really ready for sleep.

Number of locks: 4
Approximate distance for day: 44 miles

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