Diabetes Awareness Campaign: Trekking Along the Erie Canal.
North Tonawanda
Little Falls
St. Johnsville
Thursday, October 11
Weedsport map.
The Erie Canal brought a lot of opportunities to people of New York. A pair of brothers seized their opportunity in 1818 by constructing a basin with docks, warehouses, and repair facilities to service the new canal. Weed’s Basin eventually grew to a bustling community of Weedsport. Growth and prosperity came to the area until 1841 when the new Auburn-Schenectady railroad siphoned off much of the transportation business.
Thirty years later prosperity returned when A.E. Rheubottom started a factory to make his patented hoop skirts which were sold world wide.
Weedsport Shirt &
Weedsport Shirt & Waist Co.
Although hoop skirts did not remain in style, the impetus was such that at least four other clothing factories, including a knitting mill, flourished. At one time Weedsport was known as the Shirt Village of the world. Prosperity continued until it was snuffed out by the Great Depression.
Today Weedsport is a quick stop right off the Interstate and the primary industry is fast food and diners. Tired of the fast food, I went to one of those diners for breakfast.
While sitting there having a nice meal of scrambled eggs, I listened to discussion about home brew. Now this was a subject I could relate to!
During my junior year in college we set up a small still in our room. Being one of the laboratory instructors, I had access to a distillation tube and an electric heater. We had just learned in chemistry class that water boils at 100 degrees C. But alcohol boils at 90 degrees C. Now the point of this lesson is: if one has a mixture of water and alcohol, as in say a cheap rotgut wine, he could separate the two via a distillation tube. Since our system was glass and completely enclosed there was no smell and our efforts went undiscovered. Who says that a college education is not practical?
I got to talking with Joel, the young man behind the counter. When he found out I was a trekker, he told me about his travels through the Balkans in the early ‘90s after the war. He found it a beautiful country and even learned some of the lingo. Now that is an adventure which takes some courage and gumption. If I were thirty years younger, I might consider such a walk.
I had intended to walk back west to a cross road community called Centerport where are the remains of an aqueduct. But it started raining so I turned back and returned to the diner.
I decided that I wouldn’t be able to get to my next stop due to the miserable weather. So, I settled back for another cup of Joe and called the motel to reserve another night. I’d use the day for a good rest and some web surfing to learn more about the canal.
When the rain let up Joel offered to give me a ride to the aqueduct and I took him up on it. He took off his apron and grabbed the car keys and yelled out to the woman cooking in the kitchen. “Ma, I’ll be back to set up for lunch!” She just gave a smile and a wave. I was surprised that such a young looking woman could have a son in his thirties, but at my age all women look young to me.
I learned that Joel is married and has a young family of his own. He grew up here and came back to his roots after school. He works as a mortgage broker in Syracuse but since work was slow he was helping at the family diner. Being a short order cook he said is better for the soul.
Joel’s granddad had been a canawler of sorts, working as a laborer unloading barges. After visiting the aqueduct, Joel gave me a whirlwind tour around and a brief history of Weedsport.
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