The Travels of Tug 44

Winter Scenery on the New York Canals

Boating season on the New York Canals ends around November 15th, and about December 1st they pull the plug and drain much of the canals. All spillways and lock valves are opened and the rivers are returned to their natural state. This allows silt to be flushed out and protects the locks and dams from the effects of ice formation. Alas, it also turns my little harbor into a mud flat. At the bottom of the photo, you see the remaining water in the channel, just a few feet deep.

Soon the snow starts, and here we see Tug 44 up on blocks at Whitehall Marina with a foot or two of snow on her decks. Looks like a normal winter, just a bit too much snow.

And then this happened! I woke up at 4 AM to loud banging noises as the siding on my house was shrinking. That's a look at the thermometer outside my kitchen window showing MINUS 28 degrees!!! Yikes! I stepped outside and that first breath nearly choked me. My cats also started to go outside and got the same effect and started batting at their noses and ran back inside.

My harbor is covered with about 2 feet of snow here. Notice the fallen tree in my yard on the far right, a victim of an ice storm.

The Hudson River froze over, with several feet of ice, and snow on top of that. A few spots tend to melt where the current brings warmer water up near the surface. Later, these froze solid also.

Seen from a convenient bridge, is the man-made section of Champlain Canal which bypasses the Crocker's Reef rapids at Fort Edward. It's frozen solid and covered in snow. This section is drained down to about 2 feet of water... well, 2 feet of ice.

Champlain Lock 7, drained down to the natural level of the Hudson below it, is also frozen solid.

The Waterford Flight area is particularly interesting. Seen here the piers above Erie Canal Lock 5. This section is also drained and the piers look much like Stonehenge, sticking up about 20 feet above the mud. The extreme temperatures sometimes cause a horizontal pier to shrink and fall between the uprights.

Looking east at Erie Canal Lock 2, at the intersection with the Old Champlain Canal. The old section is no longer navigated but is retained as a surge basin to handle water from the lock above.

Tug Frances Turecamo and an old railroad barge sit above Guard Gate 2, frozen solid in several feet of ice.

Two Canal Corp Buoy Boats sit up on blocks at the Champlain Canal Maintenance Yard at Fort Edward, almost next door to my house.

The Waterford Pier is the winter home to the Day Peckinpaugh, the last working canal freighter, with Tug Chancellor tied alongside. A local man sits on the ice, fishing through a 4 inch hole in the ice. He had no luck that afternoon, but said he got 9 perch and 3 sunnies the previous day. Then again, you know about fisherman and the lies they tell.

The countryside gets pretty in the snow. Here is a barn near Fort Edward, covered in snow. I took this photo with a long telephoto from half a mile away as the snow is too deep to get closer. Later, one of these barns collapsed from snow load on the roof.

Early February, my house in Fort Edward is pretty much covered in snow. The snow pile by the driveway is just about even with the top of the garage door. And this view is AFTER the state Dept of Transport came through and cleared the huge piles by the curb with bucket loaders and dump trucks. It had gotten so bad there was no longer any place for the plows to push the roads. Before the state cleared the snow, the house was simply not visible from the street at all. Another winter accomodation, the Village sends a farm tractor with a snowblower on front to clear my 300 feet of sidewalk. Notice the roof line, I had to scrape the snow off the edge to prevent an ice dam from forming. They make a tool for that here, it's a scoop on the end of a 16 foot pole. Alas, nobody told me about it in time, and an ice dam formed anyway and sent melt water thru all my ceilings when we had a few warm days.

The New York State Department of Transportation clears my sidewalk for me! Ya have to admit that's a pretty huge snowblower. Their trucks are equipped with a giant pointed plow on the front, plus a "wing plow" blade on the right side so they can plow two lanes at once. The wing plow is operated by a second driver, known as "the wing man". I have seen a state truck with wing plows on both sides and that monster could clear 3 lanes at once. Just do not attempt to pass him! The truck in the photo has the front plow removed but you can see a bit of the wing plow on the far side.

Christmas 2012, Tug 44 lays in the bottom of the drained Champlain Canal for the winter. This is the view from my living room couch.

And then we have Bear, my cat. He's part Maine Coon so he is well equipped for this stuff with very long hair and snowshoe feet. In summer, his long hair hangs straight down, but in cold weather he fluffs up and stays warm. Recently he went out in the snow and caught a live adult pheasant about twice his size. He tried to drag it thru the cat-door into the house so he could present it to me, but I made him let it go and the bird flew off. He is such a good provider, I feel so very well taken care of.

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