Diabetes Awareness Campaign: Trekking Along the Erie Canal.
North Tonawanda
Little Falls
St. Johnsville
Monday, October 29
Amsterdam to Schnectady
Mabee House.
About 10 miles east of Amsterdam is the village of Rotterdam Junction where on the banks of the Mohawk is the oldest remaining house in the valley—the Mabee Farm. In 1671 Daniel Janse Van Anterwerpen settled on the site in order to trade with the native Mohawks. He built a stone house and a wooden barn in the Dutch style. Thirty years later he sold the farm and its buildings to Jan Pieterse Mabee. The property stayed in the same family for almost 300 years until the family donated the property to the Schenectady County Historical Society in 1993 to be used as a museum and educational center. In 1988 the museum bought a Dutch barn, built in 1760, to save it from destruction. It was dismantled, and reassembled/restored across the street from the Mabee house. On the property is also a family graveyard with stones that date back to the early 1700s.
Maybee House cemetery.
The Mabee Farm also functioned as lodging for travelers on the Mohawk and was important in the history of the Erie Canal. Elkanah Watson, who was one of the early promoters of the idea of a canal, stopped here with his surveying group in 1791 on their first night out on their trip west.
From Rotterdam Junction the trail merged with Route 5S. After a couple more miles the trail reappeared at a small park on the edge of the river. As I went along the path it started to ascend and I realized that it was an old railroad bed which skirted the edge of the old canal.
Path with guardrail.
The path was paved and had a guard rail to protect the pedestrians and bicyclists from sliding down the hill into the river. It was an attractive walk providing one a good view of the river. Several people were walking on the path along with the occasional jogger and bicyclist.
One man ahead of me had a funny gait—sort of shuffling. Poor man, I thought, some sort of crippling or debilitating condition. Eventually I passed him only to realize he was reading a newspaper while he was walking. He had another paper under his arm tight against his body. It was that fact that his arm wasn’t swinging that gave the impression that he was crippled.
This was a new one for me. I have seen cars embroiled in rush hour traffic jams heading for Boston with their drivers reading their newspapers and I’ve seen guys on stationary bicycles reading while working out, but I’ve never seen a guy reading while walking. I can’t walk and chewing gum at the same time let alone read the morning broad sheet. Why couldn’t he get his reading done on the throne like normal people? This multi-tasking stuff has gone too far!
Once I reached the outskirts of the city there was only about 45 minutes left before the sun would set. The trail sign said SCCC 4 miles. At that time I didn’t know just exactly where the Schenectady County Community College was, so I decided to leave the riverside trail and take the spur to the remains of the old Enlarged Erie Canal lock #23.
After I got there, I called Jerie and said that I was ready to call it a day. Since she had a street map and I had my trail guide there shouldn’t have been a problem. But there was! She couldn’t find out how to get to me. So I asked some people where I was—Rice Road, which I relayed to Jerie. She looked at her map and then asked me “Old Rice Road” or “Rice Road.” I consulted my guide. “Old Rice Road, near Schemerhorn Road.” My response did not clarify things for her because she didn’t know where Schemerhorn Road was! She promised to call me back.
My neighbors were eyeing the old grey bearded guy with a backpack—me. It was a threesome. Two long hair guys in “wife beater” sleeveless undershirts and a blond bimbo in leathers. Of course, they rode Harleys. They had been working on a couple of six packs and were reaching the point of inebriation where the voice becomes quite loud. With the memory of what happened to Ned Beatty in the movie Deliverance, seared in my brain [“My, my you shore look purty”] I decided to move on.
As I proceeded eastward along Rice Road I called Jerie to tell her that I was on the move and had just passed Schemerhorn Road. This didn’t help her spirits any and told me to stay put! But I wasn’t about to wait on the side of an isolated street that didn’t have any street lights. Fortunately about 20 minuets later I came to a spot where Rice Road intersected a spur of the Interstate highway. And at that spot was a motel. Now we were okay. I called Jerie with the news and gave her name of the motel so she could call and ask for directions. A picnic table was under a large maple tree across from the motel. I took off my back pack, drew a big sip of water, and relaxed while leaning against the tree. It wasn’t long before I was rescued by Jerie—the driver of my chase vehicle.
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