The Rome dock and terminal wall at the outskirts of the city.
|NYS guide:||Page E-44 / E-45|
|Town east:||Marcy (9.5 miles)|
|Town west:||Sylvan Beach (15 miles)|
|Lock east:||Lock E20 (9 miles)|
|Lock west:||Lock E21 (9 miles)|
The city of Rome like many of the cities across New York was developed because of the success of the canal system. Over time the canal was moved from it original course though own the current path just just inside the city border.
Rome is also one end of the famous stretch of undeveloped Old Erie Canal between Rome and Dewitt. Along this stretch, the original canal remains nearly untouched from the time is was used in the early 1900's. Just west of Rome, near Lock E21 and Lock E22 the canal walking/biking trail crosses the canal. If you want to stretch your legs, this is a good spot to walk, run or bike in a peaceful setting.
Bellamy Harbor Park
- Free Town Wall
- No Services at the wooden docks
- Power Outlets at East end of wall
- Small Park
- 0.5 mile walk to downtown and supplies
Rome CanalFest is an annual summer event that started in 2003 to celebrate the summer, canal and city. Traditionally the CanalFest is held the first full weekend in August. For 2010, the CanalFest will be held on August 6th-8th.
Bring your children, your parents, your friends, or your neighbors, and spend a fun day at the waterfront, an evening listening to music, and finish the night with fireworks! The festival is family oriented with non-stop music and entertainment, karaoke contests, blueberry pie and cookie baking contests, cooking shows, "anything but a boat" race, "Who Let the Dogs Out" contest, a kayak/run race, a duck race, fishing derby, student art show, flower show, child safety events, cotton candy, thrilling rides for children of all ages, and much more!
- Bellamy Harbor Park
- 5-10pm Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday and Sunday.
- Free Parking
- $1 Entrance Donation (A donation for good causes)
- Find more information and pictures at the Official Site
Erie Canal Village
Erie Canal Village is an outdoor living history museum. The village is home to three museums: The Erie Canal Museum, which unfolds the story of the Erie Canal from the first proposals for an improved route to the West through the emergence of the Barge Canal System in 1918; The Harden museum which exhibits a collection of horse drawn vehicles that range from utilitarian farm equipment to an elegant Laundaulet. In order to present a clearer view of 19th century travel, vehicles are placed on samples of three types of roads: dirt, plank and cobblestone; and third, The New York State Museum of Cheese building, which once housed the Merry and Weeks cheese factory in nearby Verona, NY. This building explores the history of cheese making and its relationship to the importance of the Erie Canal in New York State during the 19th century.
In addition to the museums, other typical structures found during the 19th century can be viewed such as Bennett's Tavern, Blacksmith Shop, Railroad Station, Ice House, Wood Creek School, Maynard Methodist Church, Shull Victorian House, Settler's House, Crosby House and Canal Store. New for summer 2009 is the addition of a 10 minute train ride on a historic narrow gauge train.
The Erie Canal village is also a nice place to take a walk or bike ride. The Canalway trail leaves Rome adjacent to route 46 and passes by Erie Canal Village before uniting with the dry enlarged Erie Canal Bed, furthermore one can also walk along the tow path where the mules carry the Village's boat, but please keep pets leashed and give the mules the right of way at all times.
For more information see the Erie Canal Village Website.
The Oneida Carry, Wood Creek Improvements and the Rome Canal
Rome was the site of the very important Oneida Carry where boats would portage from the eastern flowing Mohawk River to the westward flowing Wood Creek. The unique proximity of the two navigable rivers and the flat land between them allowed relatively easy access to the undeveloped western part of the state, the Great Lakes and the west.
The early years and minor improvements
Long before the first shovelful of the Erie Canal was turned on July 4th, 1817 in Rome many improvements of the waterway from Albany to Oswego had been completed. In about 1730, short sections on the Mohawk River in nearby Marcy were dug. Wood Creek, which connects Rome to Oneida Lake, is often missed today as being capable for navigation, but given the alternatives of the time, this shallow, tree-filled river was the best option.
There was a 2 mile land based portage for carting boats across Rome, but this required people unloading boats then reloading them at the other side. Furthermore Wood Creek was narrow and curved nearly its entire length (and still is to a large degree), and therefore made navigation of large boats difficult. In the summer of 1793, Wood creek was cleared of fallen timber and straightened in a few places, shortening its length by over seven miles. This was the first major step in improving water based traffic in the area.
The Rome Canal
The Western Inland Lock Navigation Company, a private company, had the rights to develop a water route from the Hudson River to Seneca Lake. They had already built a canal built around the falls in Little Falls and completed the before mentioned work on Wood Creek. There still was the need to connect the Mohawk River to Wood Creek, and thus work started in 1796. On October 3rd, 1797, the Rome Canal was completed. This man made canal had two locks made of brick, both lift locks with a lift of 8 feet and 10 feet. The prism was 47.5 feet wide and allowed boats with up to 3.5 feet of draft. The canal was 1.7 miles long.
Unfortunately in about five years it was necessary to rebuild the locks. The mortar used to hold the bricks together had failed, and the locks were rebuilt of stone, at great expense. Lessons learned here, and at Little Falls about the building of canals were critical in the building of the Erie Canal 20 years later.
More Wood Creek improvements
In 1802, the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company continued to improve this route. The passage from the western end of the Rome Canal, down the first part of Wood Creek was still difficult in times of low water. The creek dropped 24 feet from the canal to where the creek joins Little Canada Creek.
Four locks, and the necessary dams, were to be built along the creek. Interestingly these locks and dams were built of wood. By this time it must have been surely known that wooden locks would deteriorate quickly, as the locks at little falls and were rebuilt in the same year after less than 8 years of service.
This, along with the other improvements along the waterway, created a westward boom 25 years before the Erie Canal. The route was bisected in two places by the construction of the Erie Canal and thus went into disuse. The former Rome Canal, which ran from where Erie Boulevard intersects Wood Creek east adjacent to Dominick Street. It turned south near Fort Stanwix and connected to the Mohawk River. The eastern portion from near Fort Stanwix would later be incorporated in part by the Erie Canal. Evidence of most of the canal is long gone, but there is some visible remains in the swamp region south of Erie Boulevard and Wood Creek intersection.
Rome Junction Locks
The construction of the modern Erie Canal in the early 1900s did not follow the same line of the Enlarged Erie Canal. Rather, the new canal ran south of the main downtown area, and at an elevation of almost 10 feet lower. To prevent loss of access to the Black River Canal and the canal side businesses in downtown Rome, immediately east of Guard Lock 7 there was a junction lock built that allowed Enlarged Erie Canal sized boats to enter from the New Canal.
For a similar reason of access, the Enlarged Erie Canal that ran east from Guard Lock 7 also received a junction lock, made with tumbling gates. This allowed boat to enter this section of the long level in both directions.
Watering each of these sections required a bit of creativity. The western route through Rome was fed directly by the Black River Canal and a feeder from the Mohawk River, so there was no lack of water on that section. Unfortunately on the section to the east water was not in abundance. Therefore a unique feeder was used. A "tube" was brought from the Rome side, under the modern Erie Canal, and then up to the eastern side. This allowed water from Black River Canal and Mohawk River to be used to feed the eastern side of the canal, and it did not impede the passage of the boats on the modern Erie Canal.
Unfortunately these locks are now covered by the highway overpass over Guard Lock 7. The remains of the locks and underground tunnel may still be there though!
Rome's love and hate of canals
Rome's interesting past of canals has caused its residents to both love and hate the canals. The original Rome Canal was helpful, but Erie Canal to follow was purposely routed to the south of the city, bypassing the downtown area. The then about 15 years later, when the Enlarged Erie Canal was to be built, the route was changed once again to run into the city.
Finally when the canal was to be enlarged to the modern Erie Barge Canal, the residents had serious and founded objections. The original route through this area called for enlarging then existing Enlarged Erie Canal, now Erie Boulevard (from the Bridge over the modern canal at the guard gate to about the Wood Creek bridge). This new route would be far wider than the old, and require that high bridges with long approaches be built. It also meant cutting off the trolley and railroads lines to a part of the city, hurting commercial interests. The citizens' plea's were heard, and the route was moved south, and the existing railroad lines, which were one reason of choosing the northern route, were relocated. This new route is nearly perfectly straight which also made barge traffic easier.
- Riverside Marina and Storage, 6787 Martin St., Rome, NY 13440, (315) 271-7263
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