Erie Canal Traffic Increasing

This article from MarEx is about 6 months old, and unfortunately they quote NPR, but I still find this very interesting. Anyone have any personal thoughts, or better yet, experiences, with this? If the uptick is as significant as this article would lead us to believe then this would really be a landmark turn-around for one little corner of the industry that I don’t think anyone would have guessed would ever bounce back. As much as I hate the state of New York, I say bully for the Erie Canal! Good for them.

July 23, 2013
[B]Erie Canal Sees Significant Upswing in Barge Traffic, Prepares for More Growth[/B]

BY MAREX

[I]The Herbert P. Brake pushes a large barge through Fairport, New York on the Erie Canal
[/I]
The Historic Erie Canal, which stretches 363 miles from Albany to Buffalo, has been receiving an upsurge in barge traffic in recent years after decades of being used primarily by recreational boats. According to a report broadcast recently on National Public Radio (NPR), the revival in commercial traffic is in large part due to sales of Canadian grain, as well as to the low cost of fuel implicit in use of the canal compared to other transportation modes. The report was prepared by journalist Ryan Delaney.

The canal officially opened in 1825 with some of New York’s largest cities growing up along it. Freight passing through the 500 miles of waterways and locks peaked at five million tons. But the level dropped significantly when the interstate highway system and competing St. Lawrence Seaway to the north opened up. Commercial shipping slowed to just 10,000 tons a year, and recreational boats became the dominant users of the canal, as is still the case today. In 2012, however, the canal saw a four-fold increase in average freight transit. Projections for 2013 are for more than 100,000 tons to be shipped through the waterway.

According to an article in The New York Times, the growth in commercial traffic is due to the rising cost of diesel fuel. Using one gallon of fuel, canal barges can carry a short ton of cargo 514 miles; a train can haul it 202 miles, less than half the distance; and a truck only 59 miles. Canal barges can carry loads of up to 3,000 short tons. They can also transport objects that would be too large for road or rail shipment. Erie Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton told NPR that as more crops arrive from Canada because of changes in trade law, the canal just happens to be in the right place again. “This system is still here. So it’s an opportunity really to go back to what made this state great, and to use a tremendous infrastructure that 189 years later is still going strong,” he said.

What’s the problem with NPR again?

For those interested:
http://www.npr.org/2013/06/25/195426326/commercial-shipping-revived-along-erie-canal

I was wondering the same. Beats listening to FOX News.

[QUOTE=Bloodyshitcakes;129648]I was wondering the same. Beats listening to FOX News.[/QUOTE]

What’s wrong with Fox? Its the only news allowed in the GOM, so it must be right!

I think its great the nation built something in its infancy on a large scale that has stood the test of time and is still useful for commerce and recreation even to this day. On a much smaller scale its like being in Europe visiting a town where Roman acqueducts are still used from time to time.

Just wish we could get this type of positive press on USMM and booming employment in offshore market.

As kids my Brother and I started out by spending our summers Painting on Barges and working on Tugs that ran the Barge Canal. A lot of what I learned was at the hand of some of those 'Old Timers" and I was thankful for the chance. My Brother went on to Maine Maritime but I choose the Hawsepipe route.

I always said I would take a pay cut (Ok, a small pay cut) to be able to go back up there and work again if it could be as much fun as it was in the past. Nothing like sitting at a Lock for days waiting for the water level to drop so we could clear the bridges. Funny how they always made it to a lock with a Tavern within walking distance before having to stop.

I am glad the canal is back in business. I knew people trapped by the floods and destroyed locks from a few years ago.
No idea why NPR reporting on the Erie Canal is bad. It is part of the NATION and used by the PUBLIC, so this would seem a very valid subject for them to be reporting on.

The Erie Canal is a great waterway. My last trip through was in the late 90s, delivering a ferry with a 42 ft. beam, and as I recall, the controlling width was 43 ft. A lot of broken 2X4s on the deck by the time we got to the west end.

The locks had a lot of deferred maintenance that needed attention. It would be nice to see it become a viable waterway again.

It would be a great trip to go though it as a tourist, with plenty of time to explore the towns and sights along the way.

Thanks for posting.

[QUOTE=water;129716]It would be a great trip to go though it as a tourist, with plenty of time to explore the towns and sights along the way.

Thanks for posting.[/QUOTE]

I have always thought of heading up there and renting a Houseboat to run the entire canal system, Both the Northern Champlain and Eastern (Erie) Canals.

I grew up 8 miles from the canal, used to see the tugs on the way home from school. There is actually quite a bit of traffic up there now, I’ve been looking into a chiefs job up there, after the mcallister fire they have to run licensed engineers now heading into Canada.

I started this thread mostly because the Erie Canal holds a special place in my heart. I did not grow up near the Canal like some of you did but I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to transit the canal, something that only very few people can say they have done. I found it to be a very rewarding experience. Although I cannot see myself spending a career on a river like the Mississippi or the Columbia, rivers are still very near and dear to me, so having the chance to do something like transit the Erie was truly a dream come true. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who is considering doing it, whether recreationally or commercially. Never in your life will you have another opportunity to, at the SAME time, be on the water AND view some of the most beautiful country that this nation has to offer.

As far as I’m concerned, the state of New York is a rotting cesspool of un-American values that will ultimately sink this nation into another dark-age, the likes of which 12th century Europeans could not even begin to imagine. Even considering all of that, the Erie canal is still a shining beacon of hope for both that disgrace of a state AND this industry as a whole. No matter how many 18-wheelers they put on the roads, and no matter how many trains CSX builds, they still seem to need us. If after 200-years of ups and downs that minuscule body of water can have the potential to see yet another re-birth then maybe, just maybe, our fledgling deep-sea fleet is not so bad off. Like life itself emerging from the primordial soup that was ancient Earth, the nature of this industry is such that its life is indefatigably difficult to extinguish. It seems as if, by some miracle, that by merely existing at all this industry thrives. Our very existence will be, as JFK once said of the nation in its entirety, our inevitable triumph.

[QUOTE=Tugs;129727]I have always thought of heading up there and renting a Houseboat to run the entire canal system, Both the Northern Champlain and Eastern (Erie) Canals.[/QUOTE]

For the record, if you’re seriously considering doing that, I would offer you the simple advice that a Grand Banks trawler does, in fact, fit under the bridges of MOST of the stretches of the canal. It doesn’t fit through quite all of them, but it fits through most of them. It is a common misconception that the Erie is one long, straight line. There are three different places that you can exit the canal into the Great Lakes. Some of them you can do with a height of 19-feet, and some of them you can’t.

I admit that I might be a little rusty on the details but I believe that the control height for the majority of the Canal is 19-feet, but some of the canal is a meager 14-feet. If it were up to me and I decided that I wanted to do a trip through the canal then I would DEFINITELY take a Grand Banks. That way you have the option of transiting TO the canal if you live anywhere from Massachusetts to New Jersey, AND you also have the option of cruising in the very same vessel while on the Great Lakes (you could go all the way to Duluth, Minnesota if you wanted to!).

Second tallest maybe? And if I remember correctly it’s a lot more than 45’, I think it’s closer to 60-ish.

[QUOTE=PaddyWest2012;129730]If after 200-years of ups and downs…[/QUOTE]

Yes, at least 30 or 40 ups and downs, starting with the Flight of Five by Troy… :slight_smile:

[QUOTE=PaddyWest2012;129733]For the record, if you’re seriously considering doing that, I would offer you the simple advice that a Grand Banks trawler does, in fact, fit under the bridges of MOST of the stretches of the canal. It doesn’t fit through quite all of them, but it fits through most of them. It is a common misconception that the Erie is one long, straight line. There are three different places that you can exit the canal into the Great Lakes. Some of them you can do with a height of 19-feet, and some of them you can’t.

I admit that I might be a little rusty on the details but I believe that the control height for the majority of the Canal is 19-feet, but some of the canal is a meager 14-feet. If it were up to me and I decided that I wanted to do a trip through the canal then I would DEFINITELY take a Grand Banks. That way you have the option of transiting TO the canal if you live anywhere from Massachusetts to New Jersey, AND you also have the option of cruising in the very same vessel while on the Great Lakes (you could go all the way to Duluth, Minnesota if you wanted to!).[/QUOTE]

Yes, a Grand Banks would be a great way to cruise the waterways. Good for both brown water and near coastal.

My recollection is that the controlling height from Oswegeo, on Lake Ontario, to Troy, on the Hudson River, is 20 ft. The western part of the canal has a controlling height of 15 ft. So if you want to come of the Great Lakes with a vessel that is over 15 ft, but less than 20 ft, you need to take the Welland Canal from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, then enter the NY canal system at Oswegeo.

The canal system is very popular with RVs (recreational vessels) that are doing the “Great American Loop.” That is the route up the eastern seaboard, up the Hudson River, then across the canal to the Great Lakes. They transit the Great Lakes to Chicago, then head down the Illinois River (where all the jumping carp are), to the Mississippi, then Ohio, TenTom, and back out at Mobile and on to Florida, their starting point.

I finally managed to complete that route in 2010 when I crossed my wake in Tampa Bay.