National Geographic : 1947 Jul
Drums toDynamos ontheMohawk world (page 69). Crowned with sparse gray hair and tanned tothe topofhiswise head, he had twinkling china-blue eyes and alaugh which lighted up his face like arunning light. As we stopped atacanal-side gasoline sta tion where a girlpumped fuel and water aboard, the captain chuckled reminiscently. "One time," hesaid, "afellow stopped for gas and drinkingwater and gotthehoses mixed up. Filled his gasoline tank with water and his water tank with gasoline. Hesure had to be careful not todoany smoking when he cleaned out hisbilge." From Oneida Lake wechugged toward Rome through thebroad canal that hasre placed the old canoe route upWood Creek. Our first lock delighted theChamp, who had come along to helphandle theboat. Aswater boiled up around ustofill thelock, heex claimed, "Gee, if you were going down, the water would be pouring outthesame way. Think what would happen ifyou fellover board!" "Yep, you'd goright out, just like afish," said thecaptain cheerfully. Except fordrinking cows, afew swimming boys, and anoccasional statuelike fisherman, wehad this liquid superhighway largely to ourselves. Only rarely didweseeabarge. "No," said alock keeper, "there aren't many barges; butlook attheir size. That one, forinstance, carries asmuch gasoline asa50-car train oftank cars." Like aniceberg, these ponderous burden bearers hide most oftheir bulk under water. They aregenerally loaded toadraft of10feetforward and 10feet aft, thus clearing thebottom atsome points byonly afoot andahalf, since thestatutory minimum depth ofthecanal is12feet. Old canal men saythat when you trytoload aboat to11feet ona12-foot depth, it Westward Through theMohawk Valley theCourse ofEmpire Took ItsWay Today the Valleyishome tohalf amillion people, andmillions ofother Americans know itastherail and highway route between theHudson andtheWest. Through here each dayroll300freight and passenger trains over New YorkCentral's "Water Level Route." Along theriver willrunthenew Mohawk Thruway, part of the vast system ofexpress highways which New York State began building lastsummer inwhat it calls its greatest engineering project since construction oftheErie Canal, predecessor oftheBarge Canal.