The Great Portage at Rome (Part Two) - May 17th, 1993

The recreation of the portage across the Great Carrying Place was only half complete when the batteau passed out of the City of Rome and onto State Route 49 to the west. It still had to be launched again into the water at the other end of the portage road.

In dry weather the western end of the 18th century portage was on Wood Creek at Fort Bull, now on the site of the Erie Canal Village Museum. It was to that museum that the batteau was heading, to be launched into the old canal there for a summer-long static display.

The idea of sending "Discovery" careening down the bank of the Old Erie Canal on a set of wheels gave all of us, who had never seen it done, some reservations. But we knew Michael had designed the portage wagon correctly and that technically it was possible.

Click on any image to enlarge
The portaged boat comes down highway Coming down State Route 49 toward the Erie Canal Village Museum, the batteau portage group runs smoothly along, with a police escort.
Taking a break It was the people following the oxen who needed this break. The oxen didn't seem to think it was a big deal hauling a boat over three miles.
Ready for launching Poised on the bank of the Old Erie Canal, the batteau is ready to be launched into the water.
With all ropes released, and the boat lashings untied, the portage truck is let go and gravity takes over.
As the truck enters the canal, the batteau begins to float free, as John Anson watches the process from inside the boat.
The batteau floats off the truck and out into the canal, causing John and George, who jumped on board at the last minute, to scramble for the oars.
After picking up the rest of the crew, "Discovery" heads down the Erie Canal toward its summer berth at the Museum Village, with lots of interested onlookers lining the banks.
After rushing to keep up with the oxen for the past hour, the crew is glad to be in a boat on the water again - the easiest way to move weight across space.
One can't help seeing the similarity of our portage in 1992, as it approached Erie Canal Village, to the 18th century portage portrayed in this early engraving.


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