Monday, October 10, 2016

Canal metaphor

I discovered during my paddle down the Mississippi, that "Big Muddy" is the 3rd most visited destination for foreign visitors to the United States behind New York City and the Grand Canyon.  Ultimately I came to view the river as a geographic, cultural, commercial and wildlife "backbone" of the North American continent.
As I prepared for and then embarked on my Erie Canal voyage I pondered the important role the canal played historically in the opening of the West to millions of immigrants. It also  established NYC as the pre-eminent
port city on the East Coast and the # 1 "must see" for visitors.
My first  image of the canal was the "jugular vein" of the 19th century.  While hitch hiking on the tug Grand Erie as a guest of the Canal Corp. on their annual inspection tour, one of the crew shared a much better image. He said, "If Upstate New York is a community, the canal is the sidewalk that makes it a neighborhood."
The canal connects big and small towns with a rural and urban mix and rich ethnic diversity.  And soon she will celebrate the 200th birthday of her beginning. Happy B-day E.C.! Thanks for welcoming me!

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