PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Between 1905 and 1918 old Erie Canal and offshoot canals of the system, with their towpaths and mules were re-engineered into the Erie Canal System for motorized freight barges. It remains a triumph of Jules Verne era engineering. Nothing is too big to be magnificently detailed and spit-shined. Tubes, meters, valves, insignias of brass - even the fuses have heavy caps that shine like gold. There are watch-like mechanisms of levers and gears, and escape valves that fly open by centrifugal force when they spin too quickly, and all still as a pin in a little windowed house, like a museum display.
Even today each lock is kept polished and painted by a lock master and crew who greeted us on our arrival. They work with military precision and compete much as local volunteer fire departments do to maintain the discipline of their work. Even if the canal system is no longer essential to commercial traffic it is an integral part of flood control throughout the Mohawk Valley.