Tag Archives: Champlain Canal

National Register Nomination for NYS Barge Canal


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nys_barge_canal_system_map-100In recognition of a near century of service, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor – in collaboration with the NYS Canal Corporation, the Heritage Documentation Program of the National Park Service, and NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation – is sponsoring the nomination of the NYS Barge Canal System to the National Register of Historic Places.

The nomination includes the currently operational New York State Barge Canal, including the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals. The period of significance for the nomination is 1905, when construction began, through 1963. If approved, the historic district will include over 250 structures – every lock, lift bridge, guard gate, and dry dock on the system. Continue reading

35 Boats Confirmed at the Waterford Tugboat Roundup


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front121_9G_RALLYThis weekend, nearly three dozen boats are expected along the Waterford wall, in front of the Visitor’s Center, for three days as the town relives its canal heyday for its annual tugboat round-up. Now in its 14th year, the Waterford tugboat Roundup and has become one of the four premier waterfront festivals in New York State and the largest maritime festival north of New York City.

Family-friendly music plays from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, tugs will be open for tours, kid’s games and activities, tour boat rides, line-tossing, tours of the tugs and more. Shuttle busses will run from remote parking. There is no charge for the event (other than a nominal charge for the tour boats). Continue reading

Canal Splash Set For This Weekend


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442Celebrate the history, culture, recreational appeal, and beauty of the New York State Canal System and Erie Canalway Trail during Canal Splash!, a coordinated series of locally organized events and activities, including nature and history walks, museum and gallery exhibits, rowing regattas, kayak and canoe outings, musical performances, boat tours and more. Continue reading

Schuylerville to Fort Edward History Bicycle Tour


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canalridersOn Sunday August 11, enjoy a 28-mile guided bicycle tour along the Champlain Canalway Trail between Hudson Crossing Park in Northumberland and Fort Edward.

This tour will take bikers past historic sites of interest related to the Revolutionary War and the Champlain Canal. Learn about Rogers Rangers, Jane McCrea, the route that General John Burgoyne’s army took on the way to the Battles of Saratoga and the development of the Champlain Canal. Continue reading

Waterford Tugboat Roundup This Weekend


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More than two dozen boats are expected to participate in this year’s Tugboat Roundup in Waterford. The Roundup, cancelled last year due to damage caused by the storms Irene and Lee, is organized by the town of Waterford and runs from Friday, September 7 through Sunday, September 9.

Working tug boats from along the Hudson River including Kingston, Albany and Troy, from the Canal System, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River are expected to converge in Waterford in time for Friday afternoon’s parade. The parade starts at the Port of Albany at 2:45 on Friday with boats arriving in Waterford as early as 5pm.

Live music will be performed throughout the event with at least nine different groups booked to play on board one of the tugs, the Grand Erie, docked in front of the Visitor’s Center along the canal at the foot of Tugboat Alley in the village.

Boat tours will be offered on both the Hudson River and the Waterford locks and kids activities will include face-painting, clown performances, puppet theaters, a bouncy-bounce, pony rides. and more throughout the weekend.

On Sunday, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will be dedicating the Waterford flight of locks as a significant engineering achievement in America. This dedication will take place on Sunday.

A full schedule of performances and activities can be found on the Roundup’s website, www.tugboatroundup.com or on their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/tugboatroundup.com

Photo: The 2008 Tugboat Round-Up, Courtesy Duncan Hayes, NPS  (Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor).

Call for Entries: 2012 Erie Canalway Photo Contest


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Entries are being accepted through Friday, September 7, 2012 for the 7th annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Winning photos will be displayed in the 2013 Erie Canalway calendar, which will be available free of charge in December.

Amateur and professional photographers are invited to submit prints and digital images in four contest categories: Bridges, Buildings and Locks; For the Fun of It; On the Water; and the Nature of the Canal.

The contest captures and shares the beauty, history, people, and distinctive character of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, which is comprised of the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga/Seneca, and Champlain Canals, and their historic alignments, and surrounding communities.

You can download official contest rules and an entry form online.

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor spans 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York, encompassing the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain canals and their historic alignments, as well as more than 230 canal communities. Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission, in partnership with the National Park Service, collaborates with government agencies, communities and organizations to protect and promote the canal corridor for all to use and enjoy.

Photo: 2011 First Place Photo Winner “The Locks at Lockport” by Stephen Bye.

Annual Waterford Tugboat Roundup Returns


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Tugboats will Roundup the weekend after Labor Day in Waterford after taking last year off due the effects of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The Tugboat Roundup is an annual event in Waterford, celebrating the maritime heritage of upstate and interior New York at the confluence of the Hudson River and New York State Canal system. The Roundup begins on Friday, September 7 and concludes on Sunday afternoon, September 9.

More than 30 tugboats, workboats, barges and other craft are expected along the Waterford wall at the entrance to the Erie Canal. The festival takes place in front of the Visitor’s Center at the foot of Tugboat Alley and kicks off with the Tugboat Parade on Friday afternoon which starts at the Port of Albany, coming into Waterford in late afternoon.

The Mohawk-Hudson chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers will be recognizing the Waterford Flight of Locks as a significant American Engineering achievement on Sunday at noon during the Roundup. The flight is a two-mile long series of five locks, critical to the success of the “modern” Erie Canal when it was built in the Nineteen Teens (it opened in 1917).  Boats are raised from Hudson River level more than 180 feet into the Mohawk River above Cohoes.

Additional land displays include local crafters, artists, food tents, historical displays and local organizations. The American Red Cross, continuing in their efforts to help the region recover from last year’s storms, will have a tent at the festival for more information and donations. Local fire departments, always at the ready, will also have information areas.

Live music with local musicians will take place throughout the weekend, kicked off on Friday afternoon with canal and river balladeer George Ward and including other local bands such as “All Nite Long,” “Yesterday’s News,” “Flood Road,” Nixie Dixie Cats,” “Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers,” “Lawson,” “Scott Stockman with Big Blue Sun,” and wrapping up with the “Boys of Wexford” on Sunday afternoon.

Fireworks will take place on Saturday evening at 8:00.

More information on the event, and the complete schedule can be found online. Check out video just released by the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce: http://youtu.be/69rO-PkJwfA

The Tugboat Roundup is organized by the Town of Waterford with the support of sponsors.

Photo: The 2008 Tugboat Round-Up, Courtesy Duncan Hayes, NPS  (Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor).

New Canal-side Signs Planned for 2013


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The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor in partnership with the NYS Canal Corporation will install new signs at 45 locks and canal-side access points all along the NYS Canal System in 2013.

Thirty-five of the kiosks will include a community orientation panel showing streets, trails, and points of interest within walking distance. Twenty sites will also have local history panels based on 19th century birdseye view lithographs and early 20th century postcards to share the history and significance of the canal system to the state and nation.

Installation locations are on NYS Canal Corporation land, in or near community centers. Most locations are on the opposite bank from the Canalway Trail to avoid duplication with existing trailhead signs. 

Each site will have a two or three-sided upright mount with exhibit panels that are  3’wide by 4’ tall. One side will carry a standard panel with a map, images, and text that describe the entire 524 mile long system. 
Scoping, design, mapping, and outreach to community representatives are already underway. Erie Canalway historian Duncan Hay conducted an initial round of site visits last summer and will travel with the project’s designer and cartographer during early August, visiting sites from Buffalo to Albany to Whitehall to confirm site and community information.

Locations have been selected to serve boaters, trail users, and visitors arriving by car. The 45 kiosk locations are as follows:

Erie Canal 

• Tonawanda/North Tonawanda, Erie & Niagara Counties

• Lockport, Niagara County

• Medina (Towns of Ridgeway & Shelby, Orleans County)

• Albion (Towns of Albion & Gaines, Orleans County)

• Holley (Town of Murray, Orleans County)

• Brockport (Town of Sweden, Monroe County)

• Spencerport (Town of Ogden, Monroe County)

• Lock E32, Town of Pittsford, Monroe County

• Pittsford (Town of Pittsford, Monroe County)

• Fairport (Town of Perinton, Monroe County)

• Newark (Town of Arcadia, Wayne County)

• Lyons (Town of Lyons, Wayne County)

• Baldwinsville (Towns of Lysander & Van Buren, Onondaga County)

• Brewerton (Town of Cicero, Onondaga County)

• Sylvan Beach (Town of Vienna, Oneida County)

• Rome (Oneida County)

• Lock E20, town of Marcy, Oneida County

• Utica (Oneida County)

• Ilion (Herkimer County)

• Herkimer (Herkimer County)

• Little Falls (Herkimer County)

• Saint Johnsville (Town of St. Johnsville, Montgomery County)

• Fort Plain (Town of Minden, Montgomery County)

• Canajoharie (Town of Canajoharie, Montgomery County)

• Fonda (Town of Mohawk, Montgomery County)

• Lock E12 Tribes Hill/Fort Hunter (Towns of Mohawk & Glen, Montgomery County)

• Lock E11, Amsterdam, Montgomery County

• Amsterdam (Montgomery County)

• Lock E9, Town of Glenville, Schenectady County

• Lock E8, Town of Rotterdam, Schenectady County

• Lock E7, Town of Niskayuna, Schenectady County

• Waterford (Town of Waterford, Saratoga County)

Cayuga-Seneca Canal 

• Watkins Glen (Town of Dix, Schuyler County)

• Geneva (Ontario County) Lakefront Park

• Waterloo (Town of Waterloo, Seneca County)

• Seneca Falls (Town of Seneca Falls, Seneca County)

• Ithaca (Tompkins County)

• Lock CS1, Town of Aurelius, Cayuga County

Oswego Canal 

• Phoenix (Town of Schroeppel, Oswego County)

• Fulton (Oswego County)

• Oswego (Oswego County)

Champlain Canal 

• Mechanicville (Saratoga County)

• Fort Edward (Town of Fort Edward, Washington County)

• Fort Ann (Town of Fort Ann, Washington County)

• Whitehall (Town of Whitehall, Washington County)

Whitehall Filmmaking: The Girl on the Barge


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Following is the story of a movie that was filmed long ago on the barge canal in Whitehall, New York, where the canal links with Lake Champlain. The details were researched and written by my partner, Jill McKee, after following up on a recollection of her beloved elderly aunt, Mary Barber (now deceased). This fortunate collaboration led to the addition of an exhibit in Whitehall’s Skenesborough Museum.
In 1929, Universal Pictures released a film called The Girl on the Barge. The movie was about Erie McCadden, the illiterate daughter of a crusty, alcoholic barge captain. Erie falls in love with Fogarty, the pilot of the tugboat that is towing her father’s barge from New York to Buffalo on the Erie Canal. Captain McCadden is not at all pleased when he discovers the romance, and his anger is escalated further by the fact that Fogarty is teaching Erie to read.
Happily, in the end the captain comes to his senses, likely due in no small part to Fogarty’s rescuing of McCadden’s barge when it is accidently set adrift. Erie marries her love and the two present McCadden with a grandson.
The Erie Canal proved too difficult a setting for the Universal production department to create on or near the studio’s lot. However, the Erie Canal itself was not deemed suitable either. At least that was the opinion of the movie’s director, Edward Sloman, who came to New York State with two veteran cameramen, Jack Voshell and Jackson Rose, to find the right filming location.
Such location trips were rare at that time in the movie industry, but Universal was willing to invest the added time and money necessary to film the movie in the correct setting. After scouting the entire modern, commercialized Erie Barge Canal from Albany to Buffalo, Sloman felt it would not be believable to audiences. “They would swear we faked it in California,” he said.
Enter a contractor from Waterford, New York, named John E. Matton. He believed the Champlain Canal was just what Universal was looking for. After seeing it, Sloman agreed and chose Whitehall as the filming location.
In May 1928, Sloman and rest of the film’s cast and crew set up their headquarters at Glens Falls and took up temporary residence at the Queensbury Hotel in order to begin making the movie. The silent era was giving way to “talkies,” and The Girl on the Barge was a hybrid between the two—a silent film with talking sequences.

The film’s cast was made up of some notable stars. The title role of Erie was played by Sally O’Neil, who had found stardom in 1925 when she appeared along with Constance Bennett and Joan Crawford in Sally, Irene, and Mary. Erie’s father, the barge captain, was played by Jean Hersholt, who appeared in 140 films from 1906–1955, and served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1945–1949.

Malcolm MacGregor (or McGregor), who appeared in over 50 films during his career, played Erie’s love interest, Fogarty. Erie’s sister, Superior McCadden, was played by Nancy Kelly, whose career spanned from the 1920s to the 1970s, during which time she received nominations for an Emmy and an Oscar, and also won a Tony Award. Both Ms. Kelly and Mr. Hersholt have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The movie’s director, Edward Sloman, was no slouch either. He directed nearly 100 films and acted in more than 30, with some producing and writing thrown in for good measure. The story on which the movie was based was originally written by Rupert Hughes for Cosmopolitan magazine. Mr. Hughes was a prolific writer who saw more than 50 of his stories and plays made into movies.
The entire episode apparently caused quite a stir in the Whitehall/Glens Falls area. Several Whitehall residents took part in various scenes in the movie, and a humorous incident at the Queensbury Hotel was reported in the Syracuse Herald on June 11, 1928.
It seems that Mr. Hersholt arrived at the hotel after a day of filming. He was still dressed as his drunken barge-captain character and asked for his room number without giving his name. The desk clerk not so politely informed Mr. Hersholt that the hotel was filled with “those motion picture people,” and there were no rooms available. In order to gain access to his room, Mr. Hersholt had to call upon director Edward Sloman to vouch for him.

Universal had a three-tiered rating system for its motion picture productions at the time Girl on the Barge was filmed. Low-budget flicks were dubbed Red Feather, and mainstream productions were labeled as Bluebird. The Girl on the Barge was categorized as one of Universal’s most prestigious films, called Jewel. Jewel productions were expected to draw the highest ticket sales.

The movie was released on February 3, 1929. Various newspaper ads and articles have been found showing the movie still playing in theatres around the country into the following fall. The movie also received many favorable reviews. The Chronicle Telegram of Elyria, Ohio, complimented the “realistic and picturesque scenes” of “the barge canals of Upper New York State” (May 20, 1929).
The New York Times reviewer, Mordaunt Hall, raved about Mr. Hersholt’s make-up and costume, and stated, “The scenes are admirably pictured.” The Sheboygan Press of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, called the film “an exceptional picture,” and went on to report, “The picture actually was photographed along the picturesque Champlain Ship Canal in Upper New York State.”
Photos: Top―Movie Poster now on exhibit in the Whitehall Museum. Middle: Sally O’Neil and Malcolm MacGregor in a scene near the canal. Bottom: Movie advertisement in the Ticonderoga Sentinel, 1929.

Lawrence Gooley has authored eleven books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 22 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Call for Entries: 2012 Erie Canalway Photo Contest


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Entries are being accepted now through September 7, 2012 for the 7th annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Winning photos will be displayed in the 2013 Erie Canalway calendar.

Amateur and professional photographers are invited to submit prints and digital images in four contest categories: Bridges, Buildings and Locks; For the Fun of It; On the Water; and the Nature of the Canal.

The contest captures and shares the beauty, history, people, and  distinctive character of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, which is comprised of the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga/Seneca, and Champlain Canals, and their historic alignments, and surrounding communities.

Official contest rules and an entry form are available online.

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor spans 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York, encompassing the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca,  Oswego, and Champlain canals and their historic alignments, as well as more  than 230 canal communities. Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission, in partnership with the National Park Service, collaborates with government agencies, communities and organizations to protect and  promote the canal corridor for all to use and enjoy.

Photo: 2011 Photo Contest Winner, “Lockport Locks” by Stephen Bye.