Location: Ft. Hunter, New York
Webpage: New York State Park
General Description: Dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the Erie Canal, the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site is the location of a stone aqueduct built over Schoharie Creek as part of the Erie Canal along the Mohawk River. The Schohorie Crossing State Historic Site is the only location along the Erie Canal where you can visit all three phases of the history of the canal. The original Erie Canal was started in 1817 in Rome, New York extending in both directions. In 1823 the section along the Mohawk River at Schoharie Crossing was completed. At the time, Schoharie Creek was dammed creating a relatively calm pool through which canal boats could be pulled using a bridge across the creek as the towpath. Especially during spring floods, this passage could be dangerous. In 1841 when the Erie Canal was enlarged at this location, the original canal into the creek was used as a feeder for water to enter the canal from the creek. A guard lock was built to control this water flow and is one of the few remaining today. There is a half mile walk along the original canal (one of the few remaining stretches of the original canal left) that leads to old lock 20 where the enlarged canal deviates from the original. This is one of the very few original locks left. At this point the new and enlarged canal was dug beginning with lock 29 that is a much expanded double lock for passage in both directions at the same time. This canal leads to a location further upstream on the creek where a stone aqueduct was constructed to allow canal boats to pass over the Schoharie Creek. Today, only six spans of this aqueduct remain, but the engineering design of the water course and towpath above the creek are still amazing. By proceeding on to the Mohawk River you can also view the modern Lock 12 on the Erie Barge Canal which is still used today. The State Historic Site is also the foundations of Fort Hunter, built in 1712 at the site of the Mohawk village of Tiononderoge and surrounded Queen Anne’s Chapel.
1) For anyone interested in the history of the Erie Canal, Schoharie Crossing is a must see as it is the only location along the canal where you can see both the original canal and enlarged canal side by side. Along with the remains of the stone aqueduct over the creek, it is well worth the stop. The Visitor Center is housed in a small farm house along the Schoharie Creek, a short distance from the aqueduct. Within they have a great series of exhibits about the history of the Erie Canal.
2) There is a half mile walk along the remains of the original Erie Canal to one of the few remaining locks from that canal. Right next to this lock is the newer lock for the enlarged Erie Canal completed in 1841. Being able to see the two locks side by side give a great visual comparison of the canals. The enlarged canal is much wider and the newer double lock is impressive. The lock leading to the south is also obviously longer than the other so it could accommodate two barges being tied together to pass through the lock to double the number it could handle a day.
3) The stone aqueduct is amazing. It is too bad that only 6 spans remain, but I guess this is not surprising given the flooding and ice flows it has had to contend with over the years. It is still an impressive structure given that it carried not only the weight of the canal boats, but also the weight of all the water needed to float them across the stream!
4) The remains of Fort Hunter are located just off the parking lot at the Visitor Center and are not much to look at today. In fact, the exact location of the fort was not known until the foundations were uncovered following the flooding from Hurricane Irene in 2011.