Bridging history

Schoharie CrossingLeah’s notes

Today being Saturday, there were lots of folks out on the trail and canal. The weather was a little drier and cooler, too, so it was a very pleasant walk.

Along a road next to the trail near the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, an Amish family had set up a table selling homemade goodies. Most definitely, Steve and I had to buy some homemade cookies!

The dad in the family was also a teacher and they had two boys helping out while mom sewed. She shared that they used to live in Ohio but liked it better in New York because it was less humid. They had the most patient horse in the world. And yes, the molasses cookies were melt-in-your-mouth good.

We finally got to the place on the canal I’ve been dying to see: the Schoharie Crossing. It is the last place you can see a good example of the aqueducts that carried the Erie Canal across streams.

It is also the only place you can find all three iterations of the canal in a relatively close area. Note to hikers and bicyclists: traveling down the trail from Fultonville, you turn the first time you see the sign Schoharie Crossing Historic Site visitor center, if you want to see the visitor center (which has a bathroom, tiny free museum, gift shop and sites of Fort Hunter), turn where it says to. There are no distance indicators but it isn’t a far walk.

After you visit the area, get back on the trail and go about three miles until you get to the second sign directing you to Yankee Hill park and historic site. You will see it and the barge canal from the trail. This is a neat place because you can see the current barge canal and the old canal locks side by side.

There is also a replica of an old canal store (has bathroom) and picnic tables. If you go to the Schoharie website, it shows a map that says you can take the old towpath trail to the Yankee Hill park, however, there is nothing on the ground to help you find directions or distance to match the online map.

All that being said, it’s worth the time to stop and see this spread out historic site. It meant so much to me after seeing the whole canal to see it all come together.

The aqueduct, even in ruins, is so amazing. Imagine building a bridge to carry water carrying boats, cargo, passengers and mules, all over a river!

Additionally, in 2011, there was a terrible flood that destroyed part of the historic area, but because of the flood they discovered the site of old Fort Hunter, commissioned by Queen Anne in the 1700s.

And on a completely different note, look up Amsterdam Castle, N.Y. We all need one of these.


2 thoughts on “Bridging history

  1. Charles Cunningham

    I am planning on hiking the EC this spring and hope to do a lot of tenting spending as little time as possible in hotels/motels/BBs so my question is are there many campsites or places you can get permission to camp along the trail.
    Chuck Cunningham


    1. Howdy, Chuck,

      As you probably saw, we did no camping ourselves, so my input is minimal.

      First, if you haven’t already, explore

      Presumably, all (of most) of the locks allow camping on their sites and we saw several folks take advantage of that. Some of them also had toilet facilities, mostly of the portable variety.

      Several of the towns along the canal had marinas and I suspect you can pitch a tent in most of them. Some also had rest rooms and showers. Sometimes there are visitor centers near the marinas, presumably to cater to boaters who stop there. One, I believe it was Brockport, even had loaner bicyles if you want to bike to a store. Also, people up and down the canal are helpful and love to hear your stories (perhaps in exchange for listening to theirs).

      Away from the towns, we often saw clearings where one could — and evidence some had — camp for the night.

      We met a fellow headed to California who said if he got caught in town, Walmart would sometimes let him camp in an out-of-the-way spot.

      The difficult places are where the trail must leave the canal for much of a distance — south and west of Rome comes to mind.

      You can also knock on a door and ask permission to camp in their yard.

      I assume you’ve done your weather research, but I’d be amiss to not mention this. You say “spring” and that has different meanings depending on where you live. Here in Texas, it’s mostly March and April. In upstate New York, however, tourist places don’t think about opening until May. In fact, double-check this, but I believe the canal is usually dry until about the first of May, so those facilities would not be open. Even portable toilets might not be out yet. We started in early May in the west and it was rather cool, cold at times. It was quite warm when we finished in the east in early June.

      Best of luck, Chuck, and let us know how it goes for you. We would not take anything for our experiences.

      Steve and Leah


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