The Erie Canal seems a fairly passive thing. Water flows down hill. Dams slow water. Locks use water to lift and lower boats. Lockmasters are friendly. Ducks and Geese abound. Fish jump. And everybody hums Kum-Ba-Yah.
But there really is a lot of heavy lifting that goes on to make the thing work.
Our 5 ton boat was lifted a total of 210 feet today, through 8 locks using the clever application of valves and slinging doors. Funny that the swirling water trying to get downstream is what enables us to go upstream.
Sections of the canal were hewn out of solid rock. Heavy blocks were lifted by primitive derricks powered by teams of horses or mules.
Looking like giant guillotines, the Erie Canal Guard Gates lift to allow passage. This type of gate helps to isolate sections of the canal in case of emergency, such as a break in the canal wall, accident, or extreme high water. They are also used when a section of the canal needs to be drained for maintenance or winter freeze protection.
The guard gates are needed on occasion. Click here to see the devastation caused by the 2006 flood.
The dams have similar gates that can be lifted and lowered to regulate the river. Today they were spilling excess rainwater. At Lock 8 this caused turbulence at the lock entrance that had Endeavor dancing around like a puppy that needs to pee.
The New York Canal Corporation maintains a fleet of tugboats and workboats that help the canal operate. By the way, the “Beard” on the front of the tugboat is called a Bow Pudding and acts as a bumper.
This tug, tied to the wall in front of us, has been picking up floating trees. With the recent rains there is plenty of wood floating by.
The heavy lifting winner of the day is this behemoth Manitowoc 18000 crane, being modeled by my lovely mate. Yes, she’s in front of it… look closely.
The 660 ton crane, owned by G.E., has been lifting 260 ton generators, 197.5 ton turbines and 142.5 ton rotors onto barges for transport to Albany, New York, where the parts are then shipped to various power plants around the world.
We moved 23 miles today, most of it in rain, and are tied to the entrance wall of Lock 8 for the night. The nearest town is Scotia, New York.