Canal Ride Day 7 Parallels Mohawk River, Native American History

Jul 13, 2013

The next-to-last day of Cycling the Erie Canal might have been called Native American day.  The ride started in Canajoharie, a Mohawk word describing a feature of the Canajoharie Gorge.  Much of the day's cycling was back on the Erie Canalway trail system, which for part of this stretch stayed near the Mohawk River.  The recreation path went in and out of pleasant forested areas, giving glimpses of the Mohawk all along the way.A short detour off the path led to a Jesuit Shrine to Mohawk martyrs.  The site, called Ossernenon was also referred to as Lower Mohawk Castle from 1642 to 1859.  Many people might remember the Sainthood of Kateri Tekakwitha just last year.  This spot in Fonda, NY, also serves as a shrine to so-called Lily of the Mohawks who lived in the 1700s.A little father up the path, and again a small side trip, brought riders to one of the original locks of the historic canal...just steps from the Mohawk River and its modern, working locks.  The Yankee Hill Lock began operation in the 1850s.  largely intact, it is one of the few locks that still has water in it.  Some breakthrough engineering concepts, such as using water to pull the barges through the locks were utilized here.  The next special location for the cyclists was the Mabee Farm, which has both historic and current connections with Native American culture.  The site now features the home built by Dutch Settlers, as early as 1705, believed to be the oldest structure in the Mohawk Valley.  The early Dutch Settlers forged agreements with the Iroquois nations, celebrated in the Two Row Wampum renewal campaign, that again people might remember.  In fact the canoeists from the Onondaga Nation heading from Syracuse to New York City arrived at the Mabee Farm the same day as the cyclists.   Most riders had time to enjoy some of the attractions because the distance of Saturday's section was relatively short.  The 8-day trip will enter its final leg on Sunday, arriving in Albany.  Riding weather was moderate and dry, giving people a break from the hotter and longer day before.  About 360 miles down (with a few detours), 40 to go.