This is a Blog about helping Doug Thomas take his 46' Uniflite, "PAX", Through the Welland, Oswego, and Erie Canals to Kingston, New York, on the Hudson River.
Pax Sept 22 – Ilion to St Johnsville
Doug subscribes to the “Notice for Mariner’s” for the Erie Canal, and just learned that the last flight of five locks at Waterford will be closed for repairs and inspection until Thursday. If we travel as originally planned, we would have a two-day wait at Amsterdam. He recalculated our trip and now we plan to stop at St Johnsville, only planning to go 20 miles and three locks. Amsterdam will be our destination tomorrow, which will be another 30 miles, before leaving the locks on Thursday.
That gave us some time to do a little exploring, so we walked into town after breakfast to visit the Remmington museum. Eliphalet Remington started making guns at a forge near Illion, NY, in 1816. His old gun had broken and he thought he could build a better one himself. His quality of workmanship was such that others asked him to make a gun for them, too. Although the company has expanded and gone through numerous ownership changes over the past two centuries, including acquisitions by an ammunition manufacturer and DuPont, the factory and R&D center is still in Ilion.
The museum is connected to the main office, and is similar to the old “World of Rubber” museum at Goodyear’s headquarters, with examples of old firearms, historical information, and a video about company history and how rifles are manufactured. It was good to see the plant parking lot full, and to see a manufacturing plant prospering.
We left Ilion after lunch and went through the locks without much fanfare – we are getting to be “old hands” at this now. One thing of note is that the lock at Little Falls, the highest lift at 40’, has a lift gate at the eastern end, unlike most locks with gates that swing open. When the water level goes to the lowest level, the gate lifts (like a guillotine – although maybe that’s not an appropriate example!), and vessels pass under the gate. This is also one of the largest lift gate locks in the world, with a lift of 40’.
As we approached the lock we were told that an upbound vessel was a tugboat with a tow, and we would have to wait 15-20 minutes for the lock to open for us, In addition, we would have to stand clear of the tug. We didn’t tie up while we waited, and it was challenging to keep PAX “at station” outside the lock. When the gates opened, the tug was in VHF communication with Doug, telling us to pass port-to-port, and telling the other upbound vessel in the lock to hold back and give us plenty of room. As you can see by the pictures below, there wasn’t a lot of room in the canal to maneuver.
We tied up at the St Johnsville Marina and went into town exploring. We had some excitement. As Doug and I were walking by some homes on the main street, a woman signaled to make a right turn into her driveway. Since we were walking up to her drive, she stopped and waited for us to pass. A young man in a pickup truck was obviously driving distracted and rear-ended her car, hardly slowing at all, doing considerable damage to both vehicles. Fortunately, no one was hurt – the woman had two young girls – maybe 5 and 8 years old – in the back seat. I hung around until the police came, so I could give an accident report – after all, I had the best view of the incident.
After my report, I joined Doug and Dick at the St Johnsville American Legion Hall, meeting some locals and enjoying some beverages. This was a small post, but kept financially afloat with fundraisers like weekly bingo, dinners, and Charter Bus trips to New York City, Washington DC, Boston, and other locations
Sept 22 - Ilion to St Johnsville
Museum was at main office for the Remington Arms Factory
Display of significant Remington revolvers. One of their most popular was the derringer, a staple of gamblers in movies and TV accounts of the Old West
Dick studies a display on the evolution of rifles in the 1800's
Dave and Mary leave for CIC - an eight hour trip
This section of the Erie Canal follows the Mohawk River
...And parallels I-90. Railroad tracks also run along the river
Scenic Little Falls - Manufacturers used water power since 1770. In the 1900’s, Little Falls was home to the world’s largest factories for tissue paper, hammers, bicycles, and for finishing calfskin.
Holding station at Little Falls, waiting for lock to open and upbound tow and barge. Lock is just around the bend. Photos below show how narrow this is - rock walls to the south, cement wall to the north
To starboard (south), natural rock wall. To port (north), cement wall along the canal
This was the tow as it passed us
The Little Falls lock is the largest drop on the canal - 40'
MJ, Dick, and Linda holding on to the bow line as PAX descends the Little Falls Lock
Exiting Little Falls...one of two locks in North America with a Lift Gate rather than doors.
PAX at Jt Johnsville Municipal Marina
Hello...Goodbye... I found these two signs ironic... On the right, "Welcome to St Johnsville." On the left, sign for a Funeral Parlor"
Scene of the auto accident... people are standing on sidewalk where accident occurred
Always friendly...American Legion in St Johnsville