I haven't honestly contemplated the Erie Canal since maybe 7th grade history class (and even that's a stretch), but last weekend when we visited my aunt and uncle in Fairport, NY (a suburb of Rochester), my dad and I decided to take a little field trip over to the neighboring town of Pittsford to check it out.
I have to say, the whole thing is pretty remarkable, especially considering all 363 miles were built entirely by hand over an eight year period (1817-1825), and connected the Hudson River (really the entire Atlantic seaboard) to Lake Erie, helping New York become the financial capital of the world. It also spurred the first big westward movement and is considered THE engineering achievement of the 19th century. Some people even called it the eighth wonder of the world when it was built! I had no idea, did you? You did?! You must be amazed I graduated middle school. ;)
Since the canal is no longer used for commerce, thanks to highways and railroads, it's perfect for tour boats, walkers, and cyclists. We enjoyed hanging out on the canal landing with frozen custard from Abbott's (est 1902) and watching the boats go by; Next summer, I definitely want to sit outside next door and have dinner at Richardsons Canal House. After our frozen treats, we drove over to Schoen Landing, one of those idyllic scenes straight out of central casting, lined with shops, cafes, boat and bike rentals, an old coal tower that's now a restaurant, and at the very end of the walking path, a super industrial trio of warehouses (formerly a kidney bean plant) which is a photographer's dream (shown right and above). All of the buildings appeared to be abandoned, but it turns out a T-shirt screen-printing business (RPS Rochester Screen Printing) has taken up shop in the big red barn at the top of this post. And behind it all? The most picturesque farm ever (also shown at the top).
Oh! One last Rochester note: If you have children or grandkids, make it a point to visit the National Museum of Play which is one of the best and most complex children's museums in the country. Theo and his cousins had such a blast, especially "shopping" in the miniature supermarket (Wegmans!) which was filled with faux-foods and products that the kids could add to their carts, check out, and return to the shelves. I think the limit was five items, but at one point, T definitely had no fewer than 10 rolls of toilet paper in his cart. Toddlers and toilet paper, what can I tell you?
We had such a great time and plan on making it an annual trip. Yay for Rochester and Upstate New York! And thanks to Howard Myers Photography for taking the four middle pics.