This afternoon the temperature made it up almost to 50 F here in northwest New York State. This is certainly above normal, which only starts to make up for the very cold but relatively snowless winter this year. I had several hours to kill this afternoon so I took a walk along the Erie Canal. Specifically, I took a visit to Lock 32 near Pittsford, New York.
There are hundreds of miles of trails along New York State’s canals. At the point where this photo of a sign was taken three generations of canals forked. The first two turned north near here and went through Rochester, while the current Barge Canal stayed more south and went below the city on its trip westward toward Buffalo.
While quite wide in places, the canal is not neatly framed with concrete along its length, though there are certainly some areas where it is contained that way. Here, looking west, the canal spreads out and bends in the distance.
The northern side of the canal has these iron tie-ups every hundred feet or so. The water level in the canal is dropped in winter starting in November, and it is raised before the canal reopens in May for boat traffic.
Here’s the western side of Lock 32. The lock gates are open slightly on both ends and some water can flow through it during the winter, though most goes through the sluiceway on the southern side.
On the eastern side you get a better idea of the crushed rock along the banks used to prevent erosion and maintain the shape of the canal. The building in the distance is a boathouse. I was one of the few people walking along the canal who did not have at least one dog with me.
This gives you a better idea of how much lower the water level is now than it will be come summer. It wasn’t difficult to get down to this point, though it got quite muddy below the crushed rock.
This sign gives more of the local history of the canal and the boat building history of Pittsford.
Someday I hope to rent a boat and lazily travel the length of the canal, though only my son among my immediate family members shows any interest of joining me. I’ve been trying to convince them for years, so I may need to extend my invitee list!
- New York Times: “Life in the Slow Lane: Navigating the Erie Canal”
- Book: River-Horse: The Logbook of a Boat Across America by William Least Heat-Moon
- Book: Erie Canal (Great Destinations) by Deborah Williams
- Book: Cruising America’s Waterways: The Erie Canal by Debbie Daino Stack
- Book: Cycling Along The Canals of New York State, 2nd Edition: Scenic Rides On The Historic Waterways Of The Empire State by Louis Rossi