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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I was a Deckhand on the Erie Canal

I have been unemployed on and off for the last 5yrs., and in that time I have worked quite a few seasonal jobs.  One of which was a seasonal job working for the NYS Canal Corp., which is basically the modern name for the Erie Canal.  I was what they called a Marine Helper from June until November. A Marine Helper is basically a deckhand, and the duties of this job are to maintain the boat with which you are assigned, and to do minor construction on the canal itself.  Some of these tasks assigned to a deckhand are things like painting the deck, and cleaning cobwebs from it, which was a daily duty on one boat I was assigned.  But most of the time the duty was to help tie scows/barges to be towed to different locations through out the state of NY.

This is a scow or as most would call a barge.
 Most people from NY learn in Elementary School about the importance of the Erie Canal, but we are all under the impression that it is a thing of the past. The Canal is very much still in use, and still being used to this day.  Most of the boats that can be seen on the waterways are pleasure boats, such as yachts, and fishing boats; 
This is a pleasure boat with a tug boat of their own on the side.
but I got the chance to see corn barges. Corn is being traded from Canada to America to be later made into ethanol for gasoline. I was impressed to know that this was going on and it gave me some hope for the future of our economy.

This is a corn barge that has been emptied of its cargo.
 I simply grew to love this job after being there for a few months during the summer, and even though I had no previous experience with boating or being on the water.  I saw so many beautiful sights in parts of the state that I would otherwise never had seen or known about.

View of a farm from the Erie Canal, Newark, NY
This is a  story that I may have to revisit later , because there is so much that I want to share about my experience.  If you are interested in learning more about the Erie Canal here are a few books about it - 

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