May - June 2016
Part I - Presque Isle State Park
When thinking about our plans for the Spring and Summer we both knew they would mostly likely have to revolve around cycling rather than hiking. This was due to an ankle injury I had sustained which was still causing me grief and thus putting the kibosh on any hiking vacations.
My love of hiking had pretty much pushed cycling out of my life. Now I found myself looking for reasons to get back in the saddle so as to maintain my fitness level and get me outside doing something. Fortunately fellow Tucson hiking buddies Donna and Ashok took the time and made the effort to coax me out cycling while we were there for the winter. That helped me get into a cycling kind of mood and started the wheels spinning about cycling vacations.
Since we have given up road riding, the obvious choice for some cycling vacations would be Rail-Trails. Think: The Ghost Town Trail in western PA. Think: The Elroy to Sparta Rail Trail in central Wisconsin. Think: The 550 miles of canal bike path in New York.
Since we had not been on the NY Canal path or Presque Isle for 15 years it seemed like now was the time to revisit them. And while we were at it we could visit Betsy's kin in Jamestown NY and spend some with a some of my favorite naked ladies.
Enter Becky and Tom.
I first met these two at a Brooks Bird Club Foray back in the late 70s. They were fledgling birders and were there to learn from the Masters like Glen Phillips, Ralph Bell and Nevada Leitch.
A number of years would pass before I saw Becky and Tom again. But this time it would not be birding related, it would be biking related. It turns out like Betsy and I they were also members of the Harrison County Bicycling Association (now Country Roads Cyclists). One year they showed up at a club picnic at Prickett's Fort State Park. I must confess I barely recognized them but I did and we were able to get re-acquainted.
Not long after that, Becky and Tom invited the bike club members to join them for some cycling and kayaking at their place in Franklin PA. The place was nicely situated along the scenic Allegheny River and nearby Allegheny Valley Rail Trails which included the Allegheny River, Samuel Justus, Sandy Creek, and Oil Creek Rail Trails.
Spending more time with Tom and Becky cemented our relationship and now the four of us see each other on a more or less regular basis. I am glad for that.
And so that leads into our next get together with Becky and Tom. They had mentioned previously that we would be welcome to visit them in Harbor Creek PA where they had a place which had been in Becky's family for many years.
It was only about half an hour from Presque Isle State Park where Betsy and I had peddled all those years back. Perfect!
With that in mind we decided to spend some time up Erie way, then over to Jamestown and then north to Albion and the NY Canal path.
Let's get oriented.
Wheeling, our current location, is about a 3 hour drive from the Harbor Creek/Erie area.
How lucky can one town be to have such a wonderful State Park so close and accessible.
Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie. As Pennsylvania's only "seashore," Presque Isle offers its visitors a beautiful coastline and many recreational activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling and in-line skating. A National Natural Landmark, Presque Isle is a favorite spot for migrating birds. Because of the many unique habitats, Presque Isle contains a greater number of the state's endangered, threatened and rare species than any other area of comparable size in Pennsylvania.
The green lines represent bike paths. Our ride would be the 13 mile loop.
Karl Boyes Multi-purpose National Recreation Trail
The Multi-purpose Trail and extension makes a 13.5-mile circuit in the park. This paved trail is designated as a National Recreation Trail. This ADA accessible trail is popular with bicyclists, in-line skaters and joggers. During the winter, the trail is plowed from the entrance to the ranger station for hikers.
For cross-country skiers, the trail is left snow covered from the ranger station to Perry Monument. The trail was renamed in 2003 for the late State Representative Karl Boyes. Without his vision and tireless efforts, the trail would not exist.
You can get a better idea of exactly where the trail goes by downloading this State Park map.
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
If memory serves (and it usually doesn't) we arrived at the Vista 1 Parking lot around 8:30. Already it was getting busy. I have heard Presque Isle State Park is the most visited state park in the entire United States.
This the view out into Lake Erie from the path to the Feather Observation Platform would tempt just about anyone to cast a line, launch a boat or go in for a dip.
There are numerous small ponds and wetlands scattered about the Isle. Frog heaven!
The pollution of our waterways became a national issue in June of 1969, the day that the Cuyahoga River, flowing through Cleveland, Ohio, on its way to Lake Erie, caught on fire because it was so polluted.
Although this was not the first time that the Cuyahoga River had been in flames, the 1969 fire caught the attention of the nation and the fight began for increased water pollution controls, which eventually led to the Great Lakes Water Quality Act and Clean Water Act in the 1970s
In the 1960s, Lake Erie was declared "dead," though, ironically, it was full of life -- just not the right kind. Eutrophication had claimed Lake Erie and excessive algae became the dominant plant species, covering beaches in slimy moss and killing off native aquatic species by soaking up all of the oxygen. The demise of Lake Erie even made it into a Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax.
If you want to know more there is plenty of info at the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative interagency website.
There was nothing but smiles on this gorgeous day.
A handy dandy self serve repair station. What is not shown here is the passel of tools dangling from cables which are on the other side.
Check out them quads!
This is how I feel on certain mornings...
At the Ferry Dock and boat launch stands this old emergency water intake for the Erie drinking water supply - a remanent of the original water works which once stood here. Erie, like many cities which drew their water from lakes and rivers had serious problems with Typhoid outbreaks in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This should be no surprise since they were dumping their sewerage into the same waters they were using for drinking water.
There were 1000s of cases and 100s of deaths in Erie alone. Rather than spend the money on a safe sewerage disposal infrastructure Erie decided to push its fresh water intake pipe further and further out into the Lake until the met an obstacle - Presque Isle.
Early in 1890, the Water Commission extended the intake pipe 2,500 feet further into the bay and converted it to 60 inch cast iron pipe. The pipe now extended 1.6 miles into the bay and had a 40 foot by 40 foot brick crib which was now 14 feet under the surface of the water.
Some remnants of that crib can still be seen just off the Waterworks Ferry Boat landing. The problem continued and in fact in 1903, there were over 1,000 additional cases of Typhoid and 182 people died. The City Council still would not even discuss a sewage treatment plant and actually turned down citizens’ requests two more times.
At this point, the Water Commission had no choice and proposed extending the intake under Presque Isle and out into the lake. That would add 5,000+ feet to the intake system. The end of the intake in the lake would be just over 3.65 miles from the Chestnut Street water plant.
"Commissioners of Water Works in the City of Erie 1906"
Looking across Presque Isle bay to Liberty Park, Bayfront Convention Center and the Bicentennial Tower.
Most of the path is nicely treed both with plantings such as this and natural stands of trees and shrubs.
This is an allée of London Plane tree (Platanus × acerifolia) in Madrid's Casa de Campo.
The temperature was very agreeable that morning but I am sure the shade is most welcome in the heat of the afternoon.
We took several detours to check out various side trails.
Nice beach. Note the breakwaters.
This scene could be one of the Atlantic coast beaches. But this beach is "salt and shark free".
All the beaches were signed as "closed". We were not sure if they were closed only because they were not guarded or they were really closed. It was still before Memorial Day weekend and that may be the official opening of the beaches.
Google earth image showing a string of breakwaters at the northeast end of Presque Isle.
Breakwater projects designed to protect beaches in the Great Lakes, including the first designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are reviewed, and several are examined in detail. These include public and private beaches on the south shore of Lake Erie, the north shore of Lake Ontario near Toronto, and the west shore of Lake Michigan north of Chicago.
The largest is a 55-breakwater system designed to protect the state park at Presque Isle in Lake Erie (58 were originally designed and approved).
There is an interesting discussion about littoral cells and beach structures here.
The conclusion: "nature will always prevail".
I was curious about this ship. Here is what Tom had to say.
Looks like US Brig Niagara. I usually see photos with more sails set. The long bowsprit looks like it. This is not original. May have a few original timbers. It spent many years sunk in the muck at Misery Bay. Was partially restored and sat on land nearby public dock in Erie when we were kids. I think a ship builder named Dobbins did a lot of the work on the Niagara and others in the US great lakes fleet, hence the name Dobbins Landing at our public dock.
There were lots of people out fishing and enjoying the fine weather.
The French were the first Europeans to put the Great Lakes on world maps, sailing into Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay in 1615. These early explorers were so impressed with the size of Lake Huron that they called it La Mer Douce—the Sweet Sea. But following the arrival of European culture, Huron and the four other Great Lakes did not remain sweet for long.
Lake Erie has suffered more damage than the others from urban development. Relatively shallow at an average depth of 60 feet and lined with nutrient-rich soils, Lake Erie is perfect for death by nutrient overload. Agricultural runoff, detergents in city wastewater and the dumping of virtually raw sewage into the lake for decades by Detroit, Michigan, and Buffalo, New York, pumped the lake full of nutrients and toxic chemicals, stimulating the growth of algae and other plants that die and rob water of oxygen as they rot.
The Detroit River alone carried 20 million pounds of nutrients like phosphate and poisons such as phenols and ammonia into the lake every day during the first half of the 20th century. By the 1950s, Lake Erie was clearly sick. One 2,600-square-mile portion was found to have no dissolved oxygen in its bottom waters.
By the 1960s, lake shores were heaped with detergent suds, rotting algae and dead fish. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River, a Lake Erie tributary that runs through Cleveland, Ohio, was so full of toxic chemicals that it burst into flames.
An outraged citizenry brought change to Lake Erie by helping to push through legislation designed to clean up U.S. waters, most notably the Clean Water Act of 1972, which set guidelines for water cleanliness and provided federal aid for wastewater treatment. In the same year, Canada enacted its Water Act, setting standards for the amount of phosphates permitted in sewage effluents. The United States and Canada also signed the International Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement that year, promising to control phosphate flow into the lakes.
Overuse of resources seems to be a favorite human pastime.
The lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens), also called rock sturgeon, is a North American temperate freshwater fish, one of about 25 species of sturgeon. Like other sturgeons, this species is an evolutionarily ancient bottom feeder with a partly cartilaginous skeleton, an overall streamlined shape and skin bearing rows of bony plates on its sides and back, resembling an armored torpedo. The fish uses its elongated, spadelike snout to stir up the substrate and sediments on the beds of rivers and lakes while feeding. The lake sturgeon has four purely sensory organs that dangle near its mouth. These organs, called barbels, help the sturgeon to locate bottom-dwelling prey.
Lake sturgeons can grow to a relatively large size, topping 7.25 ft (2.2 m) long and weighing over 240 lb (108 kg).
This was a sustainable method of harvesting of fish.
This was not.
We be here!
This is the monument built in honor of Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry known as the "Hero of Lake Erie".
Perry served in the West Indies during the Quasi War with France, the Mediterranean during the Barbary Wars, in the Caribbean fighting piracy and the slave trade, but is most noted for his heroic role in the War of 1812 during the Battle of Lake Erie. During the War of 1812 against Britain, Perry supervised the building of a fleet at Erie, Pennsylvania, at the age of 27. He earned the title "Hero of Lake Erie" for leading American forces in a decisive naval victory at the Battle of Lake Erie, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal and the Thanks of Congress.
His leadership materially aided the successful outcomes of all nine Lake Erie military campaign victories, and the fleet victory was a turning point in the battle for the west in the War of 1812.
He is remembered for the words on his battle flag, "Don't Give Up the Ship" and his message to General William Henry Harrison which reads in part, "We have met the enemy and they are ours; ..."
The Battle of Lake Erie, sometimes called the Battle of Put-in-Bay, was fought on 10 September 1813, in Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio during the War of 1812. Nine vessels of the United States Navy defeated and captured six vessels of British Royal Navy. This ensured American control of the lake for the rest of the war, which in turn allowed the Americans to recover Detroit and win the Battle of the Thames to break the Indian confederation of Tecumseh. It was one of the biggest naval battles of the War of 1812.
Oliver had a famous brother - Matthew C. Perry who was a Commodore of the United States Navy.
Matthew's claim to fame (one of many) was being assigned a mission by American President Millard Fillmore to force the opening of Japanese ports to American trade, through the use of gunboat diplomacy if necessary.
Bronze likeness of Perry at the base of the Monument.
'Twas a picture perfect day to be out and about.
As one might expect there are lots of big Cottonwoods on the Isle.
The Eastern Cottonwood can reach heights of up to 130' and it is one of the fastest growing trees in North America. And they get BIG in the butt as the photo below shows.
This pontoon boat was loaded up with visitors on a Naturalist led tour. The tours are free and first come, first served.
And that is the last shot on our bike tour of Presque Isle State Park.
Now tour guides Becky and Tom had some inside goodies to show us. Next stop: The Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Entrance to Presque Isle State Park.
Earlier in the day Tom had spoken to a PA DCNR employee and he suggested we check out the Aqua Lab. So we did.
The Aqua Lab at TREC
The aquatic lab at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center has five 400-gallon Mini Fish Farms that raise fish and plants for educational programs. These tanks demonstrate how a closed system called aquaponics can raise plants and fish together.
Source: Tom Ridge Environmental Center
Besides the aquaponics projects they also had a robot project going on for the school kids.
These remotely controlled water drones have joy stick steering along with a camera. Fun!
These would be fun to have in a hot tub.
All that bikin' and learnin' and stuff sharpens the appetite. Tom and Becky knew a local place where we could get fried perch dinners and then enjoy them on the beach. So we did.
Along with a sign which proclaimed the beach as being closed there was this nifty interpretive sign explaining the whys and wherefores of viticulture along the shores of Lake Erie.
Johnson Estate Winery had a write up about this on their website.
After enjoying our perch dinner and a cool dip in the lake (Betsy and me) the kids settled into some serious rock sculpturin'.
WOW! What skill. What art.
If you compare Tom's sculpture to Betsy's you will quickly see who has mastered this art form.
And with that we headed back to the farmhouse to plan the next day over a few (more) beers.
Thanks Becky. Thanks Tom. Wonderful day!
PART II: Jamestown, Albion and the New York Canalway Trail
After we said our good-byes to Tom and Becky we took a scenic route over Jamestown where we would stay a couple of days with Betsy's kin. And, to tell you the truth I think of them as my kin as well.
Meet Tim - Betsy's cousin. If you had seen what Tim had cooked up you would understand the need for the apron.
Meet Andrea, Tim's wife. Between the two of them they put on not one but two feasts on the days we were there. And there was a bunch of kin folk there. So many I lost count. What a blast! Thanks Tim and Andrea for a wonderful visit. I wish I had taken more pictures!
Here is a look at the area where we will be spending the next 5 days.
Jamestown is just to the south of world famous Chautauqua Lake which is emptied by the Chadakoin River. I fell in love with this area on my very first trip here with Betsy back in the early 1990s (?) I am no longer sure when that first visit was but it has been pulling me back ever since.
To the north and east of Jamestown just 8 miles south of Lake Ontario is the small town of Albion. It is here where we will stay while we relive our 2001 adventure when we went cycling on the New York Canalway Trail.
The Canalway Trail is a network of approximately 300 miles of multiple-use trails across upstate New York. The Canalway Trail follows the towpaths of both active and historic sections of the New York State Canal System as well as adjacent abandoned rail corridors.
Source: State of New York
Governor Clinton of New York (1817) dug the first shovelful of dirt for a canal which was to connect Lake Erie and the Hudson and at that some referred to the canal as "Clinton's Big Ditch"
The Erie Canal is famous in song and story. Proposed in 1808 and completed in 1825, the canal links the waters of Lake Erie in the west to the Hudson River in the east. An engineering marvel when it was built, some called it the Eighth Wonder of the World.
In order to open the country west of the Appalachian Mountains to settlers and to offer a cheap and safe way to carry produce to a market, the construction of a canal was proposed as early as 1768. However, those early proposals would connect the Hudson River with Lake Ontario near Oswego. It was not until 1808 that the state legislature funded a survey for a canal that would connect to Lake Erie. Finally, on July 4, 1817, ground was broken for the construction of the canal. In those early days, it was often sarcastically referred to as "Clinton's Big Ditch".
When finally completed on October 26, 1825, it was the engineering marvel of its day. It included 18 aqueducts to carry the canal over ravines and rivers, and 83 locks, with a rise of 568 feet from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. Cross-section of the original Erie Canal It was 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide, and floated boats carrying 30 tons of freight. A ten foot wide towpath was built along the bank of the canal for the horses and/or mules which pulled the boats and their driver, often a young boy (sometimes referred to by later writers as a "hoggee").
Click the image to get the big picture of our cycling routes.
May 31st 2016
In 2011 we biked 2 days on the New York Canalway Trail (AKA Erie Canal Heritage Trail). On Day 1 we rode west from Albion to Middleport and on Day 2 we rode east from Albion to Brockport. Both legs are about 30 miles round trip.
Here is Betsy in 2001. Back then I was using my Kodak DC280 digital camera. My how cameras have changed since then.
Here we are at the trailhead parking area in Albion. Note the bridge in the background. If is one of 20 lift bridges which cross the canal.
There are numerous informative interpretive signs along the trail.
It was a picture perfect day just like when we biked it in 2001 but it was going to get pretty toasty before the ride was over.
This is near Gaines Basin a few miles west of Albion. Not the fields in the background. This area has many thousands of acres under cultivation. Before the rail lines went in and trucking became a dominant mode of transportation the crops were transported via barges on the canal.
A steam powered canal boat towing a barge on the Erie Canal 1880s.
As you can see the pathway is dead flat and has very little shade. And, to be honest, the scenery gets a bit monotonous. But, it is still a fine/fun riding.
We saw many Horse Chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum) in bloom and I think this had to be the biggest one we saw. Spectacular!
I took this shot from atop the landing platform on one of the lift bridges.
About 10 miles west of Albion is the Servoss House. It sits only a few hundred feet from the canal. One of the unique things about the Servoss house was the use of plank-on-plank construction.
The Servoss House is a located on Fruit Avenue (Orleans County Route 41) in the town of Ridgeway, New York, United States, near Medina. It is a Greek Revival style home built between 1830 and 1833 alongside the Erie Canal.
It has an unusual structural system consisting of stacked horizontal wooden planks, similar to that used by the contemporaneous Benjamin Franklin Gates House in Barre. It remains mostly intact today. In 2008 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Why they used the unusual horizontal-plank system, generally found elsewhere in the Northeast and in neighboring areas of Canada, is not known. It was believed to retain heat better and protect against wind gusts in the harsh winters the region was known for. Since they required less skill and more material to build than regular timber frame houses, they may have been well-suited for newly settled areas where skilled carpenters and joiners were not available but where wood and the sawmills to process it were abundant.
Combinations of both these theories may have motivated the Servosses. The direct access to lumber in large quantities via the canal may have made it even more economical.
An example of stacked plank construction.
Christopher Servoss came west with his family from Montgomery County in the early 1820s to capitalize on the opportunities created by the canal. He bought 235 acres (95 ha) from the Holland Land Company, including the current parcel, and built a log cabin. In 1830, with the help of carpenters and masons who had worked on the canal, he began building the house for him, his family and his second wife. It was finished by 1833.
For over a hundred years the house remained with Servoss's descendants. Very few alterations were made, although the lot was gradually subdivided and sold off. In 1940, it was sold out of the family. After several other owners, it passed in 1952 to its present owners, who have been active in restoring and preserving it.
This interpretive sign talked about the only road culvert that goes under the canal. Quite a feat of engineering back in 1823.
The above photos is Copyrighted 2005-2012 by Low Bridge Productions.
This part of the sign discussed the "Arch Culvert" which was used to allow a small stream or other drainage to pass under the canal.
The culvert ... was built near the town of Ridgeway. When water ran down a hill on one side of the canal, a cistern-like device was used to collect and drop the water down into the mouth of the culvert. In the lower figure, this device is drawn in cutaway and has a spillway on its left over which water would flow to enter the culvert. The top drawing shows the exit from the culvert. This stone structure was designed to be built on a double-planked wooden foundation, with sheet piling at each end of the culvert to prevent rushing water from undermining the structure.
Source: Copyright © 2003 Union College
This section of the sign shows three other culverts at Port Byron, Chenango and Solvay.
Here is the 2016 version of the 2001 photo at the beginning of this section.
Medina Falls is located in Medina New York, which is about half way between Niagara Falls and Rochester. Old Orchard Creek tumbles off the Niagara Escarpment here, creating an impressive waterfall, especially when the water is high. In addition to this natural marvel, just upstream of the falls Old Orchard Creek flows under the Erie Canal. The sight of a bridge that essentially carries one river over another is interesting, to say the least.
Here is a Google satellite image showing Old Orchard Creek flowing under the canal.
We decided to cross over and take a look at Medina. We found many fine old buildings there.
This is the First Baptist Church built in 1829.
We stopped here at the Medina Railroad Museum for a rest and snacks.
Medina was once a busy place with as many as 12 trains running each way every day.
Medina has a beautiful Main Street Historic District with many fine buildings.
The buildings of downtown Medina have remained. Many were restored and renovated with state and federal grant programs. The village has continued to benefit from the canal, which is now mainly a recreational resource but still carries some freight.
This tightly drawn boundary (of the Main Street Historic District) encloses an area of 12 acres (4.9 ha). Of the 52 buildings within it, only three are too modern to be considered contributing properties. There are no houses; most are multistory commercial buildings with a few having apartments above street level. The railroad-related properties, First Presbyterian Church and City Hall and its fire station are the few exceptions. It excludes Medina's Register-listed post office and St. John's, found eligible
A look at main street Medina.
This fabulous building is City Hall. Unfortunately the sun was in exactly the wrong spot for most of my snapshots.
Here is a photo sampler of some of the buildings in Medina's Main Street Historic District.
Many thousands of structures, from humble to monumental were built with the Medina sandstone which was quarried locally.
At the base of the Silurian system of rocks in the state of New York and in the Appalachian Mountains occurs the Medina sandstone. In tracing this formation from the gorge of the Niagara River northwestward into Ontario, the sandy phase of the Medina is seen to change gradually into a muddy one and finally into a limestone, as is the case on the Manitoulin Islands of Lake Huron.
Buckingham Palace, The Brooklyn Bridge and Buffalo's Richardson Complex have a connection that is rock-solid, and that connection goes back nearly 2 centuries to fields across Orleans County.
"It was discovered when the Erie Canal was dug through Medina here in 1824", says Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin.
We are talking about Medina Sandstone. Lattin goes on to say, "By the mid to late 19th century, most of the quarries were actually in the Albion, Hulberton, Holley part of the county, but the first commercial quarry to open was here in Medina, started by John Ryan in 1837."
"We're not the only ones, it happened to be quarried here first, so naturally, it became Medina Sandstone," adds Bob Waters, the President of the Medina Sandstone Society.
And once you start noticing its tell-tale look, you'll see it everywhere, in its many colors; brown, pink, even grey. In fact, 3/4 of the stone used in public and residential buildings in the Buffalo area is Medina Sandstone. You'll find it in just about every old church in Buffalo, New York City's famous Brownstones, even London Bridge.
Source: © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
After our hasty tour of the Medina Main Street Historic District Betsy and I talked about what our final destination should be for the day. We had planned to go as far west as Middleport but were unsure as to the remaining distance to get there. This was because I forgot the mileage chart. Grrr...!
We looked around for some place to get some info and I decided to stop in at Zambito Realtors and see if anyone knew how far it was to Middleport.
They were very helpful. And since everyone knew it was close but did not know exactly how far it was they checked the good old Internet, found some mileage info and printed it out for us. Very helpful and friendly folks.
They also had a recommendation for lunch - Pony's Irish Pub. With that info we peddled the remaining 4 miles to Middleport, easily found Pony's and had a lunch of wings and brews.
Now I don't consider myself squeamish but I have to say I have never been to filthier place than Pony's. Every surface we touched or walked on was sticky and the floors were so grimy it must have been years since they were cleaned. Nasty.
We quickly finished off our rather sticky sweet wings and beer and soon were peddling east back to Albion.
When we arrived back at our hotel we set up our Happy Hour Station in the spacious, breezy and sun drenched lawn and enjoyed the quiet of Dollinger's Motor Inn.
If you ever decide to stay in Albion we can recommend the Dollinger's at 436 West Avenue. There are two Dollinger's in Albion. The one we stayed in set far back from the road and has lots of grassy area and a few trees.
The following day we decided to check out the shores of Lake Ontario for some swimming opportunities. The day after that we peddled east from Albion to Brockport just as we did in 2001.I took only a few pictures of that section and here they are.
We saw many orchards along our route east to Brockport. These were apples which had been pruned and trained to grow on wire trellises.
Trellising is a means of supporting dwarf apple and pear trees to increase their bearing surface and hence their production. The trellis consists of a series of wires supported by posts (Figure 4.8). Limbs and branches are positioned on this wire fence to encourage fruit production. Varieties on M.27, Bud.9, M.9, or M.26, as well as pears on Quince C rootstock, can be trained to a trellis.
We arrived at Brockport a little beat and decided to take a rest break. We had hoped to have lunch at a place we stumbled onto in 2001 but we were unsure as to exactly how much further it was. We talked about how much further to go in the hopes of finding it and then the decision was made for us when a trail walker told us the place was just around the next bend. Yippee!
Here is what we were looking for - the Stoneyard Brewing company.
Do you see the seating down along the canal wall? That is were we sat in 2001 when we drove back to the site for dinner after our bike ride.
Betsy was ready to sample a brew or two!
Unfortunately when we asked the bartender what they had he said "We don't have anything on right now". How is it that a brewery can end up with none of their beers available?!
Poor Betsy had to settle for a Corona.
A parting shot of the Main street lift bridge and the brewery which had no beer.
Now it was time to start the 15 mile peddle back to Albion. It was a grind. The combination of soft surface and a punishing head wind kept us to a snails pace 7MPH. By the time we got back we were beat!
Fortunately we were soon relaxing at our Happy Hour Station again and all was well with the world.
Part III - Exploring the south shore of Lake Ontario
Betsy and I wisely decided to break up our two days of cycling with and exploratory day trip up to the shore of Lake Ontario. This was not only to give us a day off of cycling but also to escape the heat in Albion.
From Albion we drove due north on SR 98 until it was a dead end at the lake. No access there and no parking. We then back tracked to the Lake Ontario State Parkway an obvious 4 lane pork barrel project.
We took the Parkway the few miles to Lakeside State Park to look for beach access but by now we realized it was way to windy and cold to even think about getting in the water.
We exited the park and picked up SR 18 west and then took Lakeside Road north to Lake Shore Road and onto Yates Pier.
Escape the heat we did indeed! All hopes of a swim were dashed as we would have been against the rocks from the rough, cold and murky water.
Here we are at Golden Hill SP. Excellent swimming conditions - NOT! But it was a nice view so we went back to the car for snacks and had them while enjoying the crashing of the waves on the breakwater. Then it was on to Somerset via the Lower Lake Road.
One of the nice things about taking back roads is you never know what are going to find.
Babcock house was built using cobblestone construction.
Evidence of the use of cobblestones in building has been found in the ruins of Hierakonpolis in Egypt. Houses were built of mud brick set on cobblestone foundations and cobblestone architecture may have been used on a monumental scale to erect public administrative centers or palaces. Those structures are now collapsed into mounds of stone.
In true cobblestone architecture the whole wall consists of rows of cobblestones embedded in a lime mortar. The exterior surface may especially carefully constructed for decorative effect with cobbles matched by size and color. In Wisconsin most buildings seem to have only the exterior surfaces in pure cobblestone work, as a decorative finish for a rubble core. English medieval walls often contain a mixture of cobbles, rubble and re-used brick, though the picture from Thetford shows almost exclusively cobbles.
Some cobblestone architecture shows consistent matching in the size of the stones used, shape, and color. This method of construction has been referred to as a form of folk art. Cobblestone architecture is featured in many houses and farmhouses but also in churches, stores and town halls.
I cannot imaging the painstaking effort involved to end up with such precise and uniform construction.
Check out this giant Snowball Bush (Viburnum opulus)! Nice yard ornament.
This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "loaded with flowers".
I gonna have to git me one of these for our Woodsdale Estate.
This map along with other useful and interesting information was at the parking area for the Babcock house.
Our cobblestone desires thus sated we got back on Lower Lake Road and headed west. But, we didn't get far - only several 100 feet until we found one of my favorite places to poke around in.
This wind swept knoll does not seem like a bad place to spend eternity.
Onward and upward - one hopes...
"In memory of Nancy Elizabeth Merritt... who died September 3rd 1824. Aged 2 years, 6 months and 3 days"
It would be interesting to know the material from which this leaning headstone is made. While the lettering on most of the other stones has faded with time, this one still looks as sharp as the day it was chiseled.
We said farewell to baby Nancy Elizabeth and continued on west to the small lake side town of Olcott.
Here once stood the monumental Olcott Beach Hotel.
Finding a way to cool off in the early 1900s might have meant a trip to Olcott Beach. Getting from Lockport to Olcott prior to 1900 meant riding a stagecoach pulled by a team of horses. However, many people arrived in Olcott using their own buggies, wagons, bicycles or whatever means they had at their disposal. Olcott Beach had developed a steady but rapid growth that continued through the end of the 19th century. A visit from Governor Theodore Roosevelt to the Pioneer Association Picnic in 1899 saw a crowd that numbered 20,000 people.
No trace of the hotel remains except for the enduring stonework.
The long gone Olcott Beach Hotel.
Back in the day this stairway to the beach would have looked a little different.
The entrance to the 325 acre Krull Park which was established in the late 1880s.
The 325 acre park had its beginnings in the late 19th century when lakeside tourism was an important revenue stream for the railroad industry. Railroads built tracks to serve businesses, but quickly realized they could add on extensions that led to beaches and parks and sell passenger tickets too. In fact, a lot of lakeside resorts in the US were first constructed by the railroad industry for the sole purpose of having a destination for people to travel to. (See also Ontario Beach Park in Rochester).
Olcott Beach was a popular resort destination up until the late 1930s when the last of the great hotels of the resort was demolished. Remnants of the foundation to the Olcott Beach Hotel stand today just south of the swimming beach at Krull Park. The stonework walls add a bit of character to the park, and pique interest into the history of the site.
Source: 2013 Copyright Matthew Conheady
Here is a time line for the area. Note the 1907 entry.
Quite the resort. Luxury Hotel, swimming beach, rustic theater, The Rialto amusement park, Luna Park and the Olcott Pier where steamers put in.
Yes, we were there. But now we must depart as our Hotel Happy Hour Station awaits.
*** PART 4: Getting Stoned in Albion ***
One thing I love about visiting old towns is I can almost count on finding any number of interesting building made from brick and stone and sometimes rubble or cobbles. Usually they come in the form of churches and government building and sometimes library or residence as well.
Albion has it's fair share of masonry buildings. Here is a sampler.
NOTE: Many of the these structures are in the Orleans County Courthouse Historic District.
This is the Orleans County Courthouse.
In the late 1850s the county was beginning to outgrow its original courthouse. A committee of the county's board of supervisors that traveled to Lyons, the Wayne County seat, was impressed enough with the courthouse there that the board decided it should be the model for their new one. For the design, they chose William V.N. Barlow, a young local architect for whom the courthouse would be his signature building but also the first of many contributions to the district as either designer or builder.
His courthouse building, completed in 1858, was an ornate Greek Revival structure with a tall, gilded dome 36 feet (11 m) wide like its model. Its embrace of the style contrasted with the more restrained use of it on older buildings nearby like the Presbyterian chapel and Church House. The front columns were 50 feet (15 m) tall, and the dome top twice that height. The cupola was once open to visitors, allowing for views to Lake Ontario to the north in clear weather.
This is the Surrogate's Courthouse. Until now I had not heard of a "Surrogate's Court".
The Surrogate's Court of the State of New York handles all probate and estate proceedings in the New York State Unified Court System. All wills are probated in this court and all estates of people who die without a will are handled in this court. Unclaimed property of the deceased without wills is handled by the Judge of this court. It also handles adoptions.
Here is a WikiPedia pic which better shows the proximity of the two.
This is the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church. It is made from the distinctive Medina sandstone, AKA "brown stone".
The Pullman Memorial Universalist Church of Albion, New York was constructed in 1894 (dedicated 1895) as a memorial to the parents of inventor and industrialist George Mortimer Pullman. The structure, built of pink Medina sandstone and featuring fifty-six Tiffany stained glass windows and a Johnson pipe organ, is in the Orleans County Courthouse National Historic District. The building has been in constant use since its opening; the congregation affiliating with the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1961 but keeping its historic name.
Seeing fine old homes in the state of disrepair do not bode well for their future.
This is the First Baptist Church.
In 1832, the beautiful edifice pictured here was built adjacent to the Burrows Mansion (the old Swan Library) at a cost of $7,000. Constructed in the Federal style, the building is representative of an iconic architectural style that places emphasis on balance, symmetry, and elegance.
This is St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church also made of Medina sandstone. In the background is the spire of the First Baptist Church.
Here is a sad story. For some reason it was decided to reorient the sanctuary. In doing so the roof supports were compromised and the church had be abandoned and has been put up for sale.
In 1914, the Albion church reoriented the sanctuary. When that happened, some members didn’t like that lower beams that helped support the roof truss system were more visible. The church removed the lower beams. A century later, the roof is in danger of collapse from a truss system that needs to be totally rebuilt.
The congregation at the First United Methodist Church is looking for a buyer for its historic building, a 14,000-square-foot structure built in 1860.
The building at 19 Platt St. needs about $1 million in repairs. Its roof is structurally unsound. The church has used five tall wooden beams to help support the roof since December 2012.
Maybe now is the time to realize my life long fantasy of owning a church.
The Judge White home is listed with the National Register of Historic Places but there is not information on it available.
Note the large stone on the left in front of the Dogwood Tree.
This is a stepping stone which was you to enter and exit carriage or mount and dismount from a horse.
When I first saw the Swan Library I thought it might have been one of the Carnegie libraries. It is not.
Founding of Swan Library 1890 – 1900
William and Emma Swan, Albion residents, began looking at libraries at home and abroad, planning their gift to Albion. However, they had not begun the library when William died on November 10, 1896. The executors of the will, Emma Swan (1836-1904) and Judge Isaac Signor (1842-1935), now began the task of establishing the building, obtaining a charter, and hiring a librarian. These two executors would directly influence the library for the next 39 years and their decisions still affect the library today.
Evidently when the executors began to look for a spot to build their library, they found that $35,000 was not much to buy a lot, erect a building, and buy equipment and books, especially when George Pullman’s $65,000 church dominated Courthouse Square.
Deciding that they could not build a library building, the executors bought the Roswell S. Burrows mansion, built in 1854 on the northwest corner of the Courthouse Square, for $6,000. The Burrows mansion seemed to be a good choice: it was on the Courthouse Square between the primary school in Central Hall and the high school on West Academy Street.
Now last, but certainly no the least is the Albion First Presbyterian Church.
1890s: Three churches
The 1890s saw three of the district's churches, among them two of its most distinctive, built through the generosity of local benefactors, two of whom had some personal issues with the First Baptist Church. All used Medina sandstone, reflecting the prosperity of the region at the time.
When former area congressman Elizur Hart died in 1892, he left $60,000 ($1.58 million in contemporary dollars for the construction of a new First Presbyterian Church. He specifically stipulated that the new church's spire be taller than the one on the Baptist church.
Andrew Jackson Warner was commissioned to design the new church. He delivered the current building, made entirely of rusticated stone, which he had become familiar with while working on Henry Hobson Richardson's Buffalo State Hospital earlier in his career. The English Gothic style chosen was also well-adapted to the material, since the 13th-century churches used as models were usually made of local stone. Some aspects of the design, such as the placement of the tower, the rose window and the placement of the details, suggest the influence of Richard Upjohn, whose 1859 Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester Warner would also have been familiar with. The spire, when finished the following year, reached 175 feet (53 m), making it the tallest structure not only in the village but the county. A manse squarely in the Colonial Revival style was also built that year.
As luck would have it the First Presbyterian Church was open for tours. This is the view from the upper seating area.
The organ pipes are cosmetic, not funtional. I forget what our tour said but for some reason real ones were not required.
Almost 60 years ago acoustic tiles were installed to cover damaged plaster in the church’s sanctuary. The plaster ceiling dates back to the time when church was built in 1874. The ceiling restoration now reveals the original ceiling.
Here Betsy, along with our tour guide admire the 175 foot spire made from rusticated Medina sandstone.
When all those folks came to church they needed someway to gracefully dismount from their horses. The mounting blocks and hitching posts made this possible.
And there you have it. Now you have been stoned in Albion.
Part V: The Naked Ladies of Cattaraugus County
We saved the best part for the last - Naked Ladies!
It was first in 2003 that I cast my gaze upon these lovely creatures. Since that time I have longed to gaze upon them again. Today my wish would be fulfilled.
But before we are in the company of the lovely ladies we must first run the gauntlet of all manner of strange beasts.
And now my Lovelies, we meet again.
The Beauty, Of Naked You...
Naked, Beautiful, Supple, Succulent, & Soft,
In Your Naked Silhouette, I Could Get Lost.
What A Lovely Sight, It Is, To See.
You Rouse, Such Fervor, Such Passion, Within Me,
Every Contour, A Delight, To My Eyes.
The Thought, Of Your Nakedness, Makes, My Nature Rise.
By: Robert Gardiner
I could not have said it better...
It looks like Betsy has found her own naked beauty as well!
??????And where is all this amazement to be enjoyed?
Griffis Sculpture Park
Since the early 60’s, the steel sculptures of Larry Griffis, Jr. and other international artists have been residing in the woods, fields, and even ponds of Griffis Sculpture Park. The 450 acre Ashford Hollow park, located eight miles outside of Ellicottville, is not only a tremendous regional attraction, but holds the distinction of being one of America’s largest and oldest sculpture parks.
The park features over 250 large scale sculptures dispersed through miles of hiking trails. Each sculpture was placed with the natural setting in mind, creating a truly unique experience between art and nature.
Before we departed Betsy took a few pics of her own. Tabulation!
And that, as they say Is That! A fitting end for a groovy little road trip.
Seeya next time...