Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Irene's Damage in Upstate New York

A lock along the Erie Canal has been terribly damaged by the flood. It has become a dam, rather than a bridge.

From Chicago to Boston, we traveled on Amtrak's Lakeshore Limited. According to the route guide: 

The Lake Shore Limited follows some of the nation’s most beautiful shorelines, combining scenic beauty with interesting history. Traversing the shores of Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, the Erie Canal, the Mohawk River, the Finger Lakes and the Berkshires, it splits in Albany offering alternate routes to either Boston or New York. The variety of landscapes and waterways that make this trip so beautiful and memorable punctuate the skylines of either city at journey’s end within blocks of the Atlantic Ocean.

[The Lake Shore Limited is the descendent of the former New York Central Railroad’s train of the same name, along with the 20th Century Limited that plied the same route,albeit with all-Pullman (sleeping car) service. Making its first run in 1902 out of New York’s Grand Central Station, the train ran for almost 70 years. So rich and famous were its patrons that Paparazzi would often wait at its terminus with the expectationthat somebody in the public eye would step off of the train – perhaps James Cagney or William Randolph Hearst.

The most famous incarnation of the train was the new streamlined version designed by Henry Dreyfuss that debuted in 1938. However, “cowled” steam locomotives soon gave way to diesel power at the conclusion of World War II. After the failure in 1970 of the merged New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad, Penn Central, Amtrak was formed to take over passenger service. On October 31, 1975, the Lake Shore Limited returned to the route with service that included both coach and sleeping cars, more closely aligned with its namesake than with the Century.]

After the train split at Albany--our part went on towards Boston and the other part went to New York City--we began to see the effects of Hurricane Irene, which had churned through the region just days before, leaving flooding and extreme damage in its wake. We first saw curiously gray-colored ground cover in the woods along the track, finally realizing that this was due to the recent flooding and that everything was drying out after being covered with mud.

Then we saw a beautiful historical building (Guy Park Manor, built in the Revolutionary War era) that had been torn apart by the raging floodwaters. You can see photos and an article about it in the New York Times of Sept. 1, 2011: Manor That Has Stood For Centuries Teeters in Storm's Wake.

I took these photos along the Erie Canal--as far as I can tell, we were just passing Lock 11 near Amsterdam. You can see a newspaper slide show of the area and the damage in the Albany, NY, Times Union newspaper of Sept. 19, 2011.

The downstream side of the lock
For more information about the Erie Canal, see The Erie Canal for the history and some historical photos; and The Official Site of the New York State Canal System, where you can find updates and press releases about the damage to the Erie Canal from both Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, as well as advisories and anticipated re-opening dates for the canal. This site also includes information about all the canals in the 524-mile New York Canal System.

In spite of the damage we could see, this was beautiful country, much as we both remembered seeing it in The Last of the Mohicans.


Margie's Musings said...

What an interesting trip. Those flood waters were just tragic!

Ms. Becky said...

oh my gosh, The Last of The Mohicans is one of my faves, and I just re-watched it again last weekend. that scenery is breathtaking. If that's even close to what you saw, oh my!!! great shots Clair.

Kay L. Davies said...

Clair — Dreadful about the damage to the locks, and the mansion. So awful for you to see.
Laughed at your previous post about your hair-washing with a bottle, and, oh, the toilet, LOL. I've spent the night on a Via Rail train where the toilet was under my bed. So much easier to go down the corridor than lift the bed, really.
If you're thinking about Viking River Cruises, send me an e-mail (address on top of my blog).
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow. Must have been something to see the devastation in person like that.


Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Your pictures do a great job of showing the beauty in spite of the damage. We have driven through devastated areas some time after the natural disaster happened but when we could still see the damages and it sure does make you stop and think....