Tuesday, May 26, 2015

By Packet to Niagara

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Imagine a riff of water on wooden gunwales and the slow song of your packet boat and mules drawing you through the mountains back in time along the Erie Canal through frontier Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo; towns linked by the goods and news that flowed along the water and by the idea that still lurked out there along the edges of great inland seas. Some saw wealth, some power, some just the chance for an honest wage, but it was the idea of the almost accessible frontier and its limitless possibilities that animated the new canal.

Upstate by stage coach was bone-rattling agony over mountain roads beset by washouts and falling limbs. In 1825  there were no railroads but among the barges for freight, packets began carrying visitors through 363 wilderness miles along a smooth canal through 83 locks rising 568 feet from the Hudson River up to Lake Erie and level seas into wilderness.

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