Monday, October 15, 2007

A little wet & A little history

Yesterday I went for a hike with Ell and Brad. We travelled to an area called Lusk Lock on the Beaver Creek river system in Ohio. For those of you unfamiliar with the story of locks, or of their part in our tiny corner of Ohio, a brief history lesson:

Locks and Dams were used during the early to mid 1800's to transport goods by way of barges up and down major rivers like the Ohio and the Mississippi. Their use was invaluable in getting goods to the frontier, and only diminished with the introduction and expansion of the railroad across the United States. An entrepreneur decided to cash in on the use of the lock and dam system and helped fund a small line across Ohio from the Ohio River down towards Columbus. It was called the Sandy and Beaver Canal Company. It was, and would be the only privately owned lock system in the United States. It operated, somewhat unsuccessfully, for twenty or so years until 1852 when a reservoir dam broke and washed out much of the river system. Many of the 90 locks were dismantled to sell for foundations and bridge structures as a means of settling debts. Only about 10 to 20 still exist today, most being slowly eaten and covered up by the land. Lusk Lock is one of the most pristine examples of canal craftsmanship, with it's double curving stone staircase and still standing opposite-river dam foundation.

Back to my story... Ell and Brad and I hiked back into the area of Lusk lock. We walked down the staircase and then through the lock itself. A couple of huge trees had fallen into the lock facing upstream, so we had to crawl through all the branches. As we made our way down to the river I saw what appeared to be the remains of the dam under-structure. The river was the lowest I've seen it years, so the flat, perpendicular wooden platform was unmistakable. Brad and I decided to try to make a bridge of rocks to get closer so I could inspect it. Well that proved to be a much larger job than we envisioned, so I had another idea.

To make a long story only a little longer, I ended up just walking through the water. At one point I hit a deep spot almost up to my waist. It was hilarious, if not a little crazy. The water was really cold and the air wasn't much warmer. With some prodding and convincing Ell and Brad made the cold trek across the river as well. (At one point Brad actually threw his shoes back across the river for Ell to use.) The point of my stupidity --- to inspect the 150 year old dam under-structure --- was for naught. The sun was angling wrong and we couldn't see a thing from where we were. So instead we did some hiking on the other side of the river; something that maybe only a handful of people have ever done.

We spent a couple hours exploring. We crawled up onto the opposite dam wall ruins. We scoped out future camping locations. Ell found (and I was scared to grab and Brad accidentally killed) a crayfish bigger than any crayfish, or even shrimp, I've ever seen. It was probably six inches long with huge claws. Pretty cool. We walked at least a half mile downstream and then back up. We re-crossed the river a couple times, and why not? We were already soaked. And I finally got some pictures of the under-structure of the old dam. What an awesome trip.

It's so fun to go hiking with friends. Maybe sometime I'll bore you with my thoughts on the land, the history, and the people of the area during the canal time. Another day, though.


Blogger Adrienne said...

How cool! (and cold!)

My dad used to take us to watch the barges and see the locks and dams. I don't remember exactly where we went - it was between East Liverpool and W.Va., I think. Pretty neat though.

I like how you oh-so-carefully skimmed over the "I was scared" part. :p

2:37 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Adrienne, the place you're referring to is a place called Stratton, Ohio. I drive under the power plant and right by that lock and dam every day to and from work. You may live a day and a half away but you still have so many things to comment about in conversations between us Ohio-kids. :-)

3:31 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Yeah, that was a really great day. I loved getting off of the trail and going exploring around the creek with you guys. I wish that we could have had warmer weather and actually known that we were going to get in the water, but this was just as good because it was spontaneous. And Yes! you did skirt around the fact of being scared of that enormous crayfish. None of us would actually touch it because it was a Lobster!

2:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sam, its sounds like a fun, if wet, time. I love to explore too but of course I take my camera along.

Regarding your comment on my blog about wishing you knew how to use a camera.. you can. Just buy one and start clicking :) Thats how I learned.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Great Post Buddy! Sounds like a blast

9:43 PM  

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