Crossing the Schoharie in 1831

Creek Crossing: 1831

       In the early years of the Erie Canal, the allure and inspiration of canal travel was overwhelming for many and required for some.  The Traveller’s Pocket Directory and Strangers Guide; Exhibiting Distances on the Erie Canal and Stage Routes in the State of New-York, was published in 1831 as a travel guide for those wishing to make that journey.  Within its pages are descriptions of the many communities and settlements along the artificial river. 

   In 1978 this work was republished by John P. Papp who “gratefully acknowledge[d] the loan of the original booklet by Don Keefer” – indicating Keefer was a “noted historical authority from Glenville, New York.”  Additional information and materials for the reprint came from the support of the New York State Library.  Of note to those interested in Schoharie Crossing and the original method of crossing the creek prior to construction of the Schoharie Creek Aqueduct are the details on page 17 of that booklet.

The entry is as follows:

“Schoharie Creek.  The Canal crosses this creek by means of a guard lock on each side, the gates of which are closed, when the water is higher in the creek than the level of the canal, in order to prevent it from rushing into the Canal and tearing away the embankments.  There is a narrow bridge which the horses walk over, and the boat is taken across in the following ingenious manner.  On each side of the creek there is a horizontal wheel, around which a rope is drawn, and the ends fastened together; there is a horizontal shaft (projecting from the upright shaft of one of the wheels), to which a horse is attached.  When a boat arrives at the creek it is fastened to this rope the horse at the wheel is started, and the boat drawn directly across into the opposite lock.  The ruins of Fort Hunter are to be seen near the mouth of the creek.  The Indian Church called Queen Anne’s Chapel is near this point.” 

*Editors Note: This article previously appeared in the Spring 2015 Friends Newsletter.

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