My First Visit To The Erie Canal In New York, As Insurance In Case Of A Cloudy Solar Eclipse.

My First Visit To The Erie Canal In New York, As Insurance In Case Of A Cloudy Solar Eclipse.

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I hiked along the tow path of the Erie Canal on Friday afternoon just outside of Weedsport, New York.  I had wanted to visit the Erie Canal since I first read about it in elementary school. I learned this famous canal was vital to the economic development of our young Nation. My desire to see it increased when I learned more about it in a college course and heard the Erie Canal song for the first time. But I didn’t drive 200 miles from my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania,   on a snowy  Friday,  just to see  the Erie Canal.  I was on a mission to see my second total eclipse of our sun on Monday in Oswego, New York.

However, the possibility of clouds entered the forecast for Monday and I didn’t want to drive 200  miles to see only clouds. And I knew from my experience in Idaho,   where I saw my first total eclipse in 2017,  there would be a lot of traffic.

So, I decided to arrive two days early and explore  New York  and visit the Erie Canal. I left my office, had lunch with my nephew and law partner, and  drove to Weedsport, through snow squalls and high winds.

At times it  wasn’t a fun drive but,

when it wasn’t snowing or raining it was a nice ride, especially when I left the interstate and drive the back roads through the rural New York countryside.

I arrived late afternoon, checked into the Red Roof Inn in Weedsport, where I would be staying , for a very inflated nightly rate,  for the next two nights. I settled in and was soon driving through the sleepy town of Weedsport and  to the site of the old Erie Canal. Weedsport was once a port town on the Erie Canal but the canal was diverted to the nearby Seneca River in the early 1900’s.

The Erie Canal was built in the early 1800’s. It was a remarkable engineering feat, 3 60 miles of canal were dug, connecting Albany and the Hudson River with Buffalo and Lake Erie. It connected the farmlands of the Midwest with the cities of the east coast and set the course for future of our Nation as a  world economic leader. I just read some of the history again and it’s a fascinating one. But no time to tell it all in this blog. I’ll just tell you about my peaceful hiked  along a portion of its tow path and share, as I always do,  the beauty of nature I find along the way.

It was cloudy and windy with a light rain when I arrived at the trailhead for this section  of the former canal. The temperature was in the 30’s so I was lucky it wasn’t snow.  The entrance to the trail  is located at the site of the Centreport Aqueduct , a waterway that took the Erie Canal over the Cold Spring Brook.

I walked past the aqueduct

and over a bridge that was a replica of the  original bridges over the  aqueducts along the canal towpath.  As I noted previously the canal was diverted from it’s original route and a creek now flow in the canal.

The first portion of the path took me between  the creek,

and a wetlands.

I saw a small flock of rusty blackbirds. in the wetlands.  This was interesting since I seldom see these birds near my home in Pennsylvania but I saw a small flock in the wetlands there last week.

The trail is the same path the mules would tow the barges on the waters of the canal. I imagined Sal from the famous Erie Canal song trudging along this path 15 miles a day.  There was no one on  the trail in the cold and rainy weather  on Friday.

The path was a little muddy. The trees along the trail , mainly black walnut, slippery elm and white ash were still leafless. 

However, there were signs of Spring along the trail,  the invasive Dames’ rocket

 garlic mustard,

and multiflora leaves were sprouting,  just like there where  on my last hike at  home.

The trail continued along the creek . The only wildlife or bird activity I observed was a noisy kingfisher chattering as it flew overhead.  After a mile I crossed a highway,

and on the other side the trail was better maintained. The creek had become a wider canal,

and the stone walls of the old Erie Canal could be seen. I thought of the many men who labored for years to build the canal. Where where they born, where did they sleep and eat, did they have family with them.  My mind often wanders like this when I visit historic places. 

The waters of the  canal were  now covered in cattails, 

and  here I saw Canada geese,

and a few muskrats in the cattail reeds.

There were also more signs of Spring along the trail I saw common violets,

ground ivy,

and dead nettle flowers in bloom.

I walked out another half mile and began to walk back. The skies began to clear and I saw a few folks on the trail, some walking their dogs.

I also saw a few squirrels,

in the trees along the trail.

As I neared the end of my hike I saw this hairy woodpeckers,

and just like back home in Pennsylvania where there are woodpeckers there are usually other birds feeding the the vicinity, and there were I saw a few white breasted nuthatches,

black-capped chickadees,

a tufted titmouse,

and American robins. I think the clearing skies and sun brought them out.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw  on  my hike. New York Erie Canal birds  April 5 2024.

I also saw this  old mushroom growing on a fallen tree. It looked like a chicken of  the woods mushroom. It is a choice edible mushroom. I don’t think the folks up here in New York gather wild mushrooms. you would never see this  on any trail in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It would have been immediately picked by the many mushroom hunters that live there.

I finished my 3 1/2 mile hike and visited the nearby  War Memorial,

and  paid my respects to the local  fallen heroes. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike. New York Erie Canal April 5 2024.

It was a quick hike in not the most pleasant weather but I could now say I hiked along the Erie Canal, another item crossed off my long bucket list.  So , if the clouds should obscure the eclipse on Monday, the trip was already worthwhile. And the next day I planned a visit to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

But first I had to eat and I decided on Moro’s Table in nearby Auburn. It was a good decision. I had an excellent meal starting with homemade bread with a tomato oil,  a Caesar salad,

and a lobster and seafood  bouillabaisse. It was delicious.  It was dark when I returned to Weedsport. It was Friday night but there were no vehicles or people around. I loved this sleepy little town.  After editing photos I was soon asleep, looking forward to exploring more of beautiful New York in the morning,

I’ve got a mule and her name is SalFifteen miles on the Erie CanalShe’s a good old worker and a good old palFifteen miles on the Erie Canal
We haul’d some barges in our dayFilled with lumber, coal, and hayWe know every inch of the wayFrom Albany to Buffalo
Low bridge, everybody downLow bridge, yeah we’re coming to a townAnd you’ll always know your neighborAnd you’ll always know your palIf ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal
 Erie Canal   Pete Seeger 



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