Erie Canalway Trail

Sat - August 28

The birthday boy rolled out of the sack around 7:45 am, and we had breakfast in our hotel room.

Around 9:45, we were on the bikes and went across the road to fill our water bottles. It was a busy intersection, and there was a man standing at the roadside holing a sign which read,“Impeach Joe Biden.” Several drivers passing by honked enthusiastically.

We got on the trail at the edge of town and rode 19 miles to the outskirts of Syracuse. This was a day of clouds - we rode through a cloud of bugs and clouds of smells. At several spots, we would occasionally smell sulfide and did not know whether it was from the stagnant water in the old canal or from a nearby landfill. As we neared Syracuse, we could smell cotton candy from the New York State Fair, which was about one mile upwind of us.

Before we got to Syracuse, though, we rode through a little historic park at Camillus, the halfway point on the historic canal. Not long after that, we crossed the Nine-Mile Creek Aqueduct, which was reconstructed from the original. The canal builders used aqueducts to carry the canal and towpath across a road or a creek. Most of the old stone supports for the aqueducts are long gone, but a few of them still remain. At the one near Camillus, the community raised funds to reconstruct it, including the wooden beams to line the bed which carries the water. We bicycled across it and could look down and see the creek underneath the aqueduct.

We climbed a couple of gradual inclines as we passed over landfills on the east side of the city. We were on nicely paved trails trails at this point, moving toward an intersection with Bridge Street. Our planned route was going to take us north and past the main gate of the State Fair and then onto a series of urban bikeways with twists and turns to reach our hotel located downtown. But after reviewing the map and other recommended routes into downtown last night, we instead chose to go south on a more direct ride along Milton Ave. This turned out to be a very easy option, and we arrived at our hotel around 1 pm. We got an early check-in and went to have lunch at Pita Dream, a Mediterranean restaurant about a block away. It was tasty and fresh.

Steve took the opportunity to get cleaned up and take an afternoon nap, while I headed off on my bike to the Erie Canal Museum, about eight blocks away. The museum closed at 4 pm, but I had just enough time to go through it and take a few photos.

Afterward, back at the hotel, I cleaned up and did our laundry while Steve napped a little longer. Then went for dinner at Dinosaur Bar-B-que, a short walk from the hotel. When we crossed Erie Blvd., there were roadblocks to close the street between there and Clinton Square, where it looked like a group of people were gathering. We asked the security guys what was going on, and they said, “Oh, it’s the Syracuse Freshman Hazing Night.”

The Dinosaur BBQ was a busy place, with several people gathered outside, waiting for tables. We found two seats at the bar, ordered drinks and then ordered dinner, which was more than satisfying. I had a Dino burger, and Steve had a plate of small helpings of three types of barbecue - ribs, pulled pork and brisket.

After dinner, we walked back toward the hotel, and were amused when a jolly group of bicyclists rode past us. Some of them had their bikes decorated with lights, and they were all riding as a group. We asked them what this was.

“Bike Party!” they replied. Later, we looked it up online, and it’s just an informal meet-up for a group ride with “lights, music, and energy.”

When we got to the Kitty Hoyne’s Irish Pub, we stepped inside for a couple of glasses of Irish whiskey to celebrate Steve’s birthday. We sat and sipped them slowly and were ready to leave but could not find our waitress. So we waited a bit, and then we just couldn’t wait anymore and went to the bar to pay the tab. The bartender located the waitress, and we paid and were on our way out the door when a gentleman asked Steve if we were from around here. It turned out that he was the owner of the pub, and he was from Kilkenny, Ireland. He noticed that we had not had good service and was giving us two drink tokens. So we chatted a bit, and he said we should keep the tokens even though we weren’t making any plans to come back. (He mentioned that there is a bar in Annapolis, MD, called Galway Bay that also will accept them, but we weren’t planning to ride that far.) We’ll just keep them with us for good luck.

Now we’re back in the room and ready to hit the sack.

Today’s miles: 26.27

trail at Weedsport

Erie Canalway Trail at Weedsport

aqueduct at Nine-Mile Creek

Aqueduct at Nine-Mile Creek

sign about aqueduct at Nine-Mile Creek

Rebuilding the aqueduct at Nine-Mile Creek

sign about aqueduct at Nine-Mile Creek

Sign about aqueduct at Nine-Mile Creek

Steve at aqueduct at Nine-Mile Creek

Steve at aqueduct at Nine-Mile Creek

lunch at Pita Dream

Lunch at Pita Dream, a gyro plate and falafel


There were no steam-powered digging machines when the Erie Canal was first built. It was hand dug. This is a shovel of the type that would have used. (displayed in the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse)

animal treadmill

Exhibit in the Erie Canal Museum

animal treadmill

An animal-powered treadmill - this one could accommodate a goat or a large dog - to power a butter churn. (Exhibit in the Erie Canal Museum)

grain elevator in Brooklyn, NY

The Erie Canal had an enormous economic impact on the country - as illustrated by the presence of a grain elevator in Brooklyn, NY.

mule and boy statues

At the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse - teams of mules pulled the boats along the canal

mule tender

From the statues at the Erie Canal Museum - "hoagie" or "hoggee" is a term which referred to the person who guided the mules along the towpath. The task was often done by a young boy. The museum docent told me that the word comes from a Scottish term for a laborer. "And it was not a nice word," she added.

Molly with statues

Molly with the bronze figures of a mule and boy, at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse. Molly's great-grandfather, John Swift, worked along the Erie Canal from around 1852 to 1857, driving the mules along the towpath.

Mule group at Erie Canal Museum

The Erie Canal Museum is located in the old weighlock building in Syracuse

The Weighlock Building - Erie Canal Museum

The weighlocks were used to weigh the boats in order to assess the toll.

historical marker

Historical marker in Syracuse

dinner at Dinosaur Bar-B-que

Dinner at Dinosaur Bar-B-que

beer menu at Dinosaur Bar-B-que

Tonight's beer menu at Dinosaur Bar-B-que

bike party sign

Bike party!

Aug 22 and 23 - Getting to the starting point
Aug 24 - Buffalo to Lockport
Aug 25 - Lockport to Brockport
Aug 26 - Brockport to Palmyra
Aug 27 - Palmyra to Weedsport
Aug 28 - Weedsport to Syracuse
Aug 29 - Syracuse to Rome
Aug 30 - Rome to Little Falls
Aug 31 - Little Falls to Amsterdam
Sep 1 - Amsterdam to Albany
Sep 2 - Albany

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