Diabetes Awareness Campaign: Trekking Along the Erie Canal.
North Tonawanda
Little Falls
St. Johnsville
Wednesday, October 3
Sandstone building.
Police Station
During the construction of the canal around Medina, it was discovered that area had a beautiful reddish sandstone that was an excellent stone for building. Quarries sprang up close to the canal and Medina Sandstone was used in buildings in all the major cities of New York. The stone was used in columns of the Brooklyn Bridge and the capital steps in Albany. The fame of the stone reached across the Atlantic. Even England’s Buckingham palace has some. Medina’s police station is an excellent example of the use of the sandstone.
Captain Kidz.
Captain Kidz
Having had a good night’s sleep, I was hungry for a hearty homemade breakfast. Not wanting just another fast food restaurant, I stopped a man and asked him where I could get a good meal. He told me about Captain Kidz, which not only had good food but was reasonably priced. I found it on the edge of the canal which afforded me a nice view while I ate a plate of eggs and corned beef hash.
Canal view.
Canal view
I looked up to see the man from whom I queried earlier enter the restaurant and approach my table. My new friend proceeded to tell me about a couple of points of interest that I should be sure to see. He had even dashed up the street to the Chamber of Commerce and returned with a local map.
The "Falls."
The "Falls"
The first was the Oak Orchard Creek falls. Not a natural cataract, the falls is actually a dam which focuses the flow of the creek down a gorge to a culvert which passes under the canal.
Oak Orchard Creek.
Oak Orchard Creek
The next wonder that I was told to watch for was located a mile or so east of Medina. There country road passes through a tunnel a under the canal. The tourist publicity photo showed a car coming out of the tunnel while a boat passes over it on the canal.
Country road passing though a tunnel under the Erie Canal.
A road down under
When I finally reached the point where I knew that I had to inspect the tunnel. I climbed twenty feet down the embankment and walked into the tunnel, stopping midway. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually standing under the Erie Canal!
Road through tunnel under the Canal.
This particular culvert was built in 1823. I felt the stones and noticed that the structure was pretty solid and there were no visible signs of failure. This tunnel was built by hand 175 years ago and was still functioning perfectly. Boston’s Big Dig tunnel is less than two decades old and is already falling apart.
In the tunnel under the Erie Canal.
As amazing as the tunnel was, I was more intrigued by the fact that the land to the north of the canal was twenty feet below the canal while the land to the south was even with the canal’s top. Then I came to a sign declaring that I had reached the northernmost point of the canal and this confused me. I would have thought that the surveyors would have gone due west. As I examined the maps, I noticed that the curves of the canal were similar to the shoreline of lake Ontario. It appears to me that the canal is situated along the shore of an ancient, larger lake that covered the area eons ago. Along this stretch, the canal wasn’t exactly dug, but rather the earth was cut and shifted northward.
Northernmost Point on the Erie Canal.
Suddenly it became obvious to me that the land to the north was the bed of the ancient lake much larger than present day Lake Ontario. The ridge that the canal was running along was actually the shore line of that lake. Like most other lakes, this would have a bottom covered with an organic ooze—the remains of dead fish, plants, and microscopic organisms.
Such detritus would be the basis of a rich, fertile soil
The apple orchards, pastures, grain fields, and other examples of farming all along this section of the canal give credence to my powers of deduction.
Mr. Ed
Apple orchard.
Apple orchard
Grain field.
Amber waves of grain
Later I came to an impressive structure that spanned the canal. It was a Stop Gate, one of many situated along the can. They are designed to drop down incase of a break in the canal thus preventing a great loss of water. They are also used to isolate a section of the canal to facilitate repairs while still permitting commerce in other sections.
Stop gate.
Stop gate
I had walked twelve miles from Medina to Albion but my day wasn’t over. The closest motel was two miles south on Route 5. As I approached the motel, I was anticipating a nice hot shower and a nap before I would tackle my email. Imagine my disappointment when I read the sign that the office was closed and that I would have to walk a mile to the main motel to pick up a key. Wearily I trudged back down Route 5 to where the second place was situated. When I got there, I learned that the annex where I had the reservation did not have a WiFi internet connection. Since this motel had.a connection, perhaps I would like a room here. Unfortunately the second place was more expensive. But a WiFi connection—it might be worth the extra cost! Before I could complete filling out the admissions card, a guest came in carrying his laptop and complained that the WiFi wasn’t working. So back I opted for the cheaper room.
Fortunately I was able to hitch a ride!
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