15 Miles On The Erie Canal


I’ve got a mule, her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She’s a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
We’ve hauled some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay
And we know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo

— The Low Bridge song by Thomas S. Allen

As a kid who grew up in upstate NY, I remember learning this song in school. Which is saying a lot about the impression it made on me because I don’t remember much from my school years. So when I visited my family this summer, I was really excited to take my kids on a boat tour down the Erie Canal.

This field trip is in the town of Herkimer, NY. There’s a small waterfront area where you can get the boat tour. There’s also a nice restaurant and one of those awesome gift shops that contains an “everything but the kitchen sink” array of local products.

We traveled down the Canal to Lock 18 and learned a lot of interesting history.

Once you enter the lock, the gates close and the water slowly lowers your boat down. You can barely feel it moving. Note the concrete wall and the water level on the right side of this photo.

See how the boat is sinking down?

This was the view behind us.

And then the gates open in front of us and we’re on our way!

I wholeheartedly recommend a trip to the Erie Canal and a ride through a working lock. There’s so much history in upstate New York!


  1. What great pictures! We are planning to go through the locks on an upcoming road trip and now I am even more excited.

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