50 States Day 132, Gowanda to Canandaigua, NY. 133 Miles
"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
They dug it by hand. They dug the 363 mile, fifteen feet deep and fifty or so feet wide Erie Canal by hand! From 1817 until 1825, eight years, before the steam engine-or anything else-was invented. What vision, what tenacity, what foresight!
Imagine the country, a baby country, fresh from the War of 1812, after the Revolutionary War, decides that freight and people can move better by water and cut the canal using men and shovels, oxen and mules.
We rode in comfort through a section of the Erie Canal on a tour boat and went up and down two sets of locks, moving the boat in forty nine foot elevation changes. These locks came decades later. Bridges passed over us; two are lift bridges that allow pedestrians to use them in the up position, and cars for the lowered status.
A railroad bridge passed over, upside down design. Originally the railroad built it forty feet lower with more trusses that added nothing to the structural integrity of the bridge, but merely made it impossible for the boats to navigate under it. That's good competition there, oh yeah. The public outcry made them cut the crap out of the way.
Another bridge boasts being the widest bridge in the US, over a football field. I'd never ridden in locks before so this was a treat. No surprises, yet the clever engineering that moves so much water with no pumps to allow boats to climb almost fifty feet was amazing.
We toured Lockport a bit, and then hauled out for Canandaigua (what a stupid name-I'll have to investigate it). At our usual rocket pace, we arrived around 6:30, set up and the friendly (PP!) KOA guy stopped by and mentioned a storm coming. Glad we got here first.
The thunder didn't clap; it was more like a standing ovation, lasting for a minute or so. Lightning flashed in the distance. Then the rain came down, but not much and not very hard. Soon the rain abated and the storm passed, a whimper. All right with us.
We met a plethora of wonderful people today, the bike drawing them with it's crazy vinyl wrap. What a great way to instigate conversations as we talked with others about riding all over this fine country. More friends with a common passion.
Tomorrow, the Lord willing and the creek don't rise; we're going to Corning, NY to visit the Corning Museum. People tell us it's great. Doesn't sound like it to me, but then the Spam Museum didn't either, and they outdid themselves on that one.
We'll see. Tomorrow.
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