Ship’s Log, Schooner Lois McClure, Rome, NY

Drew Stierhoff

Members of the Rome Historical Society on board Lois McClure look to a bright canal future
Lois’s deck crowded with visitors in Rome.

There was a lot of excitement among the crew leading up to our stop in Rome, where we would be joining in the festivities of the Erie Canal Bicentennial Celebration. The community of Rome pulled out all the stops for the Celebration with live music all day long, vendors and food trucks as far as the eye could see, and reenactors in firing off cannon shots as if it was the Wedding of the Waters ceremony. Rome has a good reason to put on such an extravagant celebration for the Erie Canal. Two hundred years ago, on July 4th 1817, the Erie Canal began construction, and the first shovel full of dirt was dug in Rome. The Rome Historical Society even did a reenactment of that fateful day. Of the many towns we visit on our tour, Rome has the longest history with the Erie Canal; and they sure know how to celebrate it.

The crew pauses for a photo the day before the Bicentennial Event in Rome

The community of Rome, as well as canal enthusiasts from all over, came out to the Bicentennial Celebration in huge numbers. The Lois McClure saw her biggest crowds yet, with over 800 people stepping aboard the boat! It was astounding to see so much excitement about the canal, and we were glad to be a part of such an amazing event. The day ended with the Lois McClure crew watching the fireworks show from the deck of the ship. Special thanks to our principal partners at the New York State Canal Corporation and the New York Power Authority, plus the town of Rome for planning the Bicentennial Celebration, and inviting us to share the history of the Erie Canal and the boats that plied its waters.