Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Erie Canal







Currently in Palmyra NY, 5815 miles into the trip. Spent most of the day riding on the Erie Canal, part of the 524 mile New York State Canal System. Most of the Canal Trail is "rock dust" with very little paved sections.

The Erie Canal portion of the system has much history. The original canal, known as "Clinton's Ditch" was completed in 1825 and was 4 feet wide and 4 feet deep. It enabled the rich agriculture areas of New York state to get their produce to markets around the world and really opened up development to the West. The success of the first canal lead to expansion of the Canal and it became known as the "Enlarged Erie", 70 feet wide and 7 feet deep. This expansion was completed in 1862 and followed parts of the original Clinton's Ditch. The present Barge Canal was expanded again in 1918 to enable the Canal to complete with the Railroads. It is 90+ feet wide and 9+ feet deep. While the current Canal can still handle barges it is primarily used for recreational purposes as can be seen in the photos above. A highlight of the day was to watch a "Lock" being used to raise and lower a cruise ship full of passengers on a tour.

Interestingly, the original Canal did not provide access to Lake Ontario as the builders did not want to give Canada access to the trade they expected. Only after the Railroads came into being did the system expand to port cities along Lake Ontario.

After 5800 miles without a flat, I finally had a flat tire near the end of the day. It happened on one of the few paved sections of the Canal and I am not sure what caused it. I had just replaced the rear tire yesterday and whatever caused the flat not only ruined the tube but cut the cords on the new tire. Oh well, I am glad I have the first one under my belt. It happened about 100 yards from a bicycle shop right off the Canal. My good luck continues!

Back to paved country roads tomorrow as I head Northeast on my way to Adirondack Park.

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