The Carrying Place

By Neal Moore

It was always going to be a schlep. While the odyssey’s contorted route – from west [the Pacific coast] to south [the Gulf of Mexico] to north [the Great Lakes] to east [Lady Liberty] – was selected to follow the seasons, to have the chance to be continuous, to make it so, there would inevitably be places where one would need to heave-ho. And the Erie Canal was invariably going to be one of those places.

I got word back in July of this year that the Erie Canal was going to shut down navigation early, on October the 13th. And so, I made the calculation – a barter with myself, and with this voyage – to paddle half of the 350-mile Erie Canal and to portage half.

A balance in all things.

So I had the pleasure to paddle between Buffalo and Syracuse, 170 miles. For the remaining 170 miles, from Syracuse to Waterford, New York – where the Mohawk meets the Hudson – I’d portage along the old Tow Path and the Bicycle Trail.

Detail of an Oneida portage and paddlers, Fort Stanwix National Monument, Rome, New York. Photo by Neal Moore.

Which I thought was appropriate, being the spot where mules and horses once hauled barges of goods back and forth before and just after the advent of the nation’s first railroad, which ran and rattled along this very corridor. 

Forty-three miles into the march, when I got to Rome, New York, the spot on the map where the first shovel full of earth was dug for the canal on July 4, 1817, the place is known as “The Oneida Carrying Place”.

“The name of this portage trail between two river systems is the ‘Oneida Carrying Place.’ It served as a major east-west route linking the Atlantic to the Great Lakes when waterways were the lifeblood of trade.” Display at Fort Stanwix National Monument, Rome, New York. Photo by Neal Moore.

One can trace the history of this ancient path back in time. 

For centuries Indigenous Americans, traders, soldiers, and travelers have crossed over this very path. It is here that goods and ideas were exchanged.

Beauty along the trail. First light at Little Falls, New York. Photo by Neal Moore.

As it turns out, the boats of the Oneida and the European fur traders who came after were flat bottomed, making it easier to lift, to drag and to roll underneath with logs. 

In time, with my expedition wheels fastened firmly underneath my canoe and gear, I made the confluence of the Mohawk and the Hudson River. I here pitched my tent, to take in the beauty, to make peace with the final river to be, and to say fare thee well to my old friend, the Mohawk. And with her, my tenure along the Erie Canal.

Arrival to the end of the Erie Canal at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. Selfie by Neal Moore.

12 thoughts on “The Carrying Place

  1. Larry Ricci

    Neal, Neal, Neal .. you continue to amaze me. The video is a real eye opener, seeing all the elements you survive. So close to your journey’s end, your level of endurance is simply not measurable .. I don’t know if you’re Crazy, Unique, or just Awesome !! Ok, all of the above 😉 It’s an honor to know you. Wish I could be there when you meet up with Lady Liberty. Stay well and Safe… Larry (Madison, IN)

    1. Hey, Larry – great to hear from you and thanks for all the well wishes. Exciting to be on the Hudson, slowly making my way down to the City. Hope to come back to Madison — until then, all my best!

  2. Was wondering when you would get to the Hudson – Yaaay!
    Your travails across this country mirror the ones the country has been navigating, or attempting to navigate, throughout your journey – you give us hope that we may yet succeed in getting to where we need to go 🙂
    There is a wonderful little book that I read some time ago – Paddle to the Sea – written in 1941 – so now, 80 years later, you are writing your own …
    Am so glad I happened to see you wheeling down my little street in N Syracuse on your way – it made my day, nay, much more than that ..
    Best of luck
    Sincerely, Sue

  3. Fox, Bob

    Truly a journey not for someone who’s not committed and determined. I congratulate you Neal for all
    You have accomplished and endured so far. A little over a month to go and you will have done the unbelievable. There had to be doubters and those who thought you’d never complete the journey. But when I met you in Cape Girardeau for just that brief time, I knew you’d make it. I look forward to reading your book and maybe that day when we’ll meet again.
    God Bless, Bob Fox

    Sent from Mayor Bob Fox

  4. Glad to see you made it to the Hudson – Yaaay!
    Your journey cross country mirrors what this country has been going through – and I hope your success will help show us where we need to go …
    I read a great little book some years ago – Paddle to the Sea – written in 1941, and now 80 years later you are writing your own 🙂
    I was so lucky to happen to see you wheeling down my little street in N Syracuse awhile ago, you made my day, nay, so much more …
    Thank you, and good luck!
    Sincerely,
    – SueH

    1. trishhowison

      Wow, your last river and your last weeks. There must be so many emotions as you paddle toward your destination and the culmination of your epic journey. That is a spectacular picture of Little Falls. Can’t wait to se you in New York.

      Paddle up and bundle up!
      Trish

  5. Ken Aldrich

    Greetings, Neal, from Ken & Suzanne Aldrich (Lighthouse Point, Lake Chautauqua).
    Very pleased to know that you are now headed South! You look happy & healthy….and warm!!!
    Our best to you as you travel the Hudson and the finale. Cheers…. Ken & Suzanne

  6. Al Giardullo

    May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
    We greatly appreciated you stopping by to speak to BSA Troop 175 in Holland Patent,NY. The Scouts are still talking about your journey. You are inspiration to us all.
    Safe travel !Stay strong & warm

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