The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Syracuse Journal (Syracuse, NY), Nov. 18, 1871

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The Canals.
Along The Towpath.

Ex-Mayor Fish, of Rochester, who has been making a tour of inspection of the Erie canal, by the aid of a steam yacht, reached this city on Tuesday, on his return from Albany. He communicates what he saw in this vicinity to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, as follows:-

The water on Long Level is down. On the 12th boats were detained twelve hours, and lay aground at and near Chittenango. We became aware of the fact as we approached low water, for we would run from three to five miles without meeting a boat; then we would meet them in schools of five to ten. We arrived at Canaseraga just at dusk, and from there around the bend below Chittenango commenced to find boats all hard around.

It was the same way from there to two miles west of Manlius Center, along by the "brewery" where we sounded carefully while bound westward, finding there, while they were flooding us, five feet ten inches, five feet eleven inches, six feet two inches, six feet eleven inches, six feet two inches, six feet and a half at path, center and berme. One boat under Manlius Center bridge, in the middle of the canal, had four or five teams on trying to pull her over the ground.

From Manlius Center westward, for about two miles, boats lie bow and stern, and look in the night like one solid boat, except where the lights on the bows distinguish them. This canal forms a letter 8 around these bends, and it was rather a novel sight to look at the long row of lamps forming a rainbow of brilliant lights for miles.

The water in many places over this long level is good, but in many places, as you and I know, is very shallow, too shallow. You will recollect the water at all the waste weirs an aqueducts was running over from two to four inches deep when we passed eastward, and now it is from two to four inches below the top. It seems to me the officers in charge do not feel their responsibility; they are too indifferent to the rights and interests of the people and the demands of commerce.

We did not see a single man in authority on the route in the vicinity of the detention. There must be between Canaseraga and three miles west of Manlius, nearly or quite three hundred boats. Only think of this vast number of boys and horses left standing on the cold, dreary, windy tow-path all night for want of water to float the commerce of this and the western States. This costs us untold anxiety and expense.

The State is paying enough every year to give us the best artificial channel in the world if the money was fairly and properly applied. Shall not the State take out one foot of the bottom of the canal when the boats are detained more or less every year? We say yes. The people say yes, and the commercial men say yes. This sort of detention is a shame and disgrace to our state. Here are boats with which are connected 1,500 people and 500 horses, all jammed in one conglomerated mss. That kind of business must cease.

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Nov. 18, 1871
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Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Syracuse Journal (Syracuse, NY), Nov. 18, 1871