7. Most of the military shipments supporting the War of 1812 along the Great Lakes were sent by large boats through the system Schuyler completed in 1803. If these shipments had to depend on small batteaux and the old waterways, our military operations might have been jeopardized.
17. Batteaux were laboriously pushed up through the rapids with poles, sometimes barely holding the boat in place against the water rushing by. At the top of the rapid was a pool of calm water. Once you reached this, you were safely "over."
20. The "ribs" of these boats were cut from curved pieces of oak, usually taken from the natural crooks of trees. They held the sides of the boat to the bottom and in ships were called "knees." In small river boats they were usually called "frames."
21. Most items shipped in boats were packed in barrels, which were the strongest containers available for dry goods as well as liquids. While barrels for dry goods were reasonably water-tight, apparently they did have small leaks and would fill after a long period of being submerged.
23. New York State Museum. "Site 3-21, Upland Dredge Spoil Area, Town of Root, Montgomery County. Albany, 1982. This study was done by the State Museum for the Department of Transportation to determine the impacts associated with the proposed dumping dredging debris on and behind the island at Keator's Rift. When the historic significance of the site was revealed, the project was halted and the site preserved.
25. The boatmen usually made camp right on the riverbank, often sleeping in small tents. When they carried passengers who required lodging in an inn, or whenever they felt like it, these boatmen would camp near a tavern, but basically took care of their own provisions.
27. These were usually flat-bottomed scows on which people, horses, or even a wagon and team, could be floated across a river. Often a rope was strung from shore to shore along which the ferry could be pulled. During the riverboat days [prior to 1825], this rope may have interfered with traffic and the ferry might have been poled across.
32. These were the iron tipped poles by which the boatmen pushed their boats upstream. They were 10 or 12 feet long on a batteau but up to 18 feet long on a Durham boat. The tips of these poles are sometime found in excavations along the river.
36. Another account of this accident, as recollected from Meyer's home town, is given here: "Andrew Meyers, [who settled on Meyer's Point on Cayuga Lake about 1791] having finished building a cabin for his family, devoted himself to the building of batteaux, 'each capable of carrying six or eight tons of freight.' These he loaded with potash and piloted them down the lake and thru the small waters to the Mohawk River, Albany and sometimes beyond... It was on one of these expeditions to Albany, Miss Bristol recalls, that Andrew Meyers was wrecked in the Mohawk River, lost his cargo, and, after mending the pontoon ["a wooden flat-bottomed boat" - Webster's Dictionary], turned back toward home. At Union Springs [on the north end of Cayuga Lake] he stopped for plaster [gypsum - used for fertilizer] and, while it was being loaded, one of Cayuga's quick and treacherous winds came up and was blowing hard as he was ready to start. He was advised not to venture forth, but his uncompromising determination asserted itself as usual and he replied, 'I'll run my boat home or run it to hell.' As neither he nor the boat ever were seen again, Miss Bristol says, the inference is plain." Taken from an unidentified clipping, circa 1938, Dewitt Historical Society of Tompkins County.
39. According to a manuscript Meyers genealogy, Andrew Meyers, the Captain of the "Butterfly," died on "March 6, 1813." This is probably meant to be "March 6, 1823," which would fit the chronology of the Erie Canal construction through the Mohawk Valley as well as the Simms comment that the river was swollen at the time of the accident at Canajoharie. His downriver trip was, therefore, made in late February.
40. Before the turnpike era, roads were often nothing but tracks cut through the forest. They were plagued with roots, rocks and soft soil that turned to deep mud with every rain. Roads like these were not competition for the river boat trade. However, the improved roadbed of the new turnpikes eliminated many of these drawbacks of land travel. As boats got bigger and the rivers became less dependable, turnpikes began to show a definite advantage.
47. As rivers change the alignment over centuries, they leave behind old channels, or "meander scars," that are often low, depressions, cut off at one end as the river builds its new banks. In times of high water, the river may flow into these old channels, forming protected, slack water routes for navigating.
52. This is an angle in the sloping sides of a roof. Some accounts suggest Round Top had this shape initially, while others suggest it was the result of the beginning collapse of the roof brought on by removal of the lead covering.
Illustration Credits: New York State Library - Front cover, pages 1, 3, 6, 11, 16, 17, 18, 19, & 21. New York State Museum - Pages 1, 4, & 12. Oneida County Historical Society - Pages 7 & 14. Vermont Division for Historic Preservation - Page 8. The Canal Museum, Syracuse - Page 9. The Bucks County Historical Society - Page 13.
Cover Illustration: From an eyewitness to boats on the Mohawk River in 1807.