Diabetes Awareness Campaign: Trekking Along the Erie Canal.
North Tonawanda
Little Falls
St. Johnsville
Sunday, October 7
Coal Tower Restaurant.
Old Coal Barn
The closest motel room which wouldn’t break the bank was in Shortsville about 20 miles south-east of Pittsford. That was where spent the night but on Sunday since we wanted to go to Rochester, and Pittsford was on the way, we returned to Schoen Place for breakfast.
About 20 yards from canalside was an old coal bin which is now a restaurant. This was just another example of how an old run-down industrial area has rehabilitated into a tourist spot. Although it was strange looking, it served a good hearty breakfast.
Rochester was just six miles northwest of Pittsford straight up Monroe Avenue which was Route 31. We were there in about fifteen minutes.
Kodak Building.
Kodak Building
For me Rochester has meant the home of the Great Yellow Father—the Eastman Kodak Company. No, the moniker was not meant to be derogatory. A decade ago, every photographer would understand what I mean. Its logo was a big red K on a yellow background. Its packaging of photographic products was in yellow containers with black typography. Whether film, photograhic paper, or chemistry, the look was iconic.
All my adult life I have been a serious amateur photographer who has shot a lot of slides. Despite the Paul Simon song “Kodachrome”, to me the best slide film was Ektachrome. This was because I would purchase 100 ft rolls of the film and spool it down to 36 frame cassettes. Also, it was possible to develop the film at local labs or in a hobby dark room, while Koda- chrome had to be sent back to the manufacturer.
Kodak has taken somewhat of a big hit due to the digital revolution. I myself was a late comer to the revolt because I love the brilliance of slides projected onto a screen. Unfortunately due to lack of demand, Kodak has ceased making the best slide projector ever designed—the Carousel. Modern video projectors do not hold a candle to slide projectors. Slide shows that used to wow the viewers look ho-hum in a PowerPoint presentation.
Digital photography, appeals mostly to the snapshot consumer. But artists and traditional photographers still prefer film-based products. Kodak still dominates in that market. Ironically, it was the snapshot consumer which made Kodak the titan in the history of photography. George Eastman developed a cellulose based film and enclosed it in a box with a fixed focal lens and simple shutter. At the time, photographs were taken by exposing glass plates coated with light sensitive materials. Thus to be a photographer, a person needed some technical knowledge and access to a dark room. George Eastman changed all that. He enabled the average person to become a photographer.
Kodak’s success is symbolized by the 360 foot tower which was built in 1914. Even today it is one of the tallest buildings in Rochester. Jerie and I parked near the tower and walked to a good vantage point so we could get a good shot of the famous building.
We met two women who were scanning the top of the tower with binoculars. They were birdwatchers looking for peregrine falcons. Apparently, there is a nesting pair which has occupied the heights and have been successful in raising broods. One lady let me look through her binoculars and directed me as where to look. She told me that I was looking at the female. (I forgot the name they gave her.) How she was able to ascertain the sex of a peregrine falcon atop a skyscraper is beyond my ken. And I have been looking at birds for 40 years!
High Falls.
High Falls
From there we walked a block to the Center at High Falls Heritage Area, a small visitor center which illustrated a historical overview of Rochester’s industrial past. The 90 foot High Falls was a major source of energy. At one time nine flour mills were strung along the east side of the Genesee River, hence the nickname the Flour City.
Browns Race.
Browns Race
Water power ran other 19th century machines such as trip hammers, milling saws, and lathes. In fact the Center was in a building which housed the Gleason Machine Works. That company employed a huge metal lathe to turn out all sorts of metal parts. Power canals (not related to the Erie Canal) also called races were constructed to divert the water from the river and dump into spillways which fed the water turbines in the basements of the mills. The most important of these races was Browns Race, which supplied power to the Gleason Works. It was 1221 feet long, 30 feet wide and 5˝ feet deep. Today half the width has been paved over, but as the picture shows, it is still possible to see a portion of this important structure.
Genessee Brewery.
Genessee Brewery
After the museum we visited another old mill building, only this time it housed a restaurant and a pub. We sat on an outdoor balcony over looking the falls and the river. Opposite us was the High Falls Brewery, home of the Genesee line of beers. One, Genesee Cream Ale, was a favorite of my college buddies who came from the area. But, since I became a diabetic I no longer drink beer—too many carbohydrates. On advice from my cardiologist I’ve restricted my consumption to red wine. Actually the resveratrol in red wines reduces the substance which cause blood platelets to stick. I call my daily intake of red wine my cardiac anti-coagulant medicine—but I am digressing.
However, in honor of my college buddies I did consume one Genny Cream. In spite of how I look in the photo below, I really only had one!
Having a Gennesee cream ale.
Having a Genny
The construction of the Erie Canal really put Rochester on the map. Grains and raw materials were able to be shipped in to the city where the mills and factories turned them into produce and products demanded by the fast growing country and its European relatives.
But the breadth of the Genesee was a challenge to the engineers. The answer was the Genesee Aqueduct. The original, built in 1823 was 802 feet long, supported by 11 stone arches. When built, it was the largest stone bridge in the world. But it was only 17 feet wide and only one barge at a time could cross at a time. Thus, many disputes arose as to rights of way which often turned into fights and brawls.
Postcard of Genesse Aqueduct
In 1836 a new and improved aqueduct was begun. This one was angled differently across the river and as a result was 848feet long. Completed in 1842 the bigger aqueduct was 45 feet wide and supported by seven huge Roman style stone arches. Interestingly, this new version was unique on the canal since it was made entirely of stone.
Broadway Aqueduct Bridge.
Broadway Aqueduct Bridge
When the Barge Canal was built, Rochester was bypassed to the south. In 1924 the obsolete Broadway Aqueduct was paved over to become the Broadway Bridge. As we passed over it on our way out of the city, I noticed a new bridge over the dam at the Low Falls. Instead of being supported by a series of arches, it was suspended from cables hanging one giant steel arch. Clever, these engineers!
Low Falls.
Low Falls
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