When you travel with the GlassBarge, you’re definitely traveling with the hottest show in town. The furnaces blast away at 2,100 degrees with molten glass, ready to be gathered on the end of a blowpipe and turned into amazing pieces of art. As you travel up the Erie Canal the glass blowers, also known as gaffers, are performing to sold out shows. Even though tickets go well in advance there’s often still room for those who show up unexpectedly to get on board. When the glass show lets out, the Lois McClure gets a wave of enthusiastic visitors curious to learn more about the history of the move of the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company to Corning 150 years ago.
Speaking of hot shows, how about the weather? The sweltering heat of last week was not only rough on the gaffers, but on the crew of the Lois McClure and the visitors alike. Despite our efforts to make the Lois McClure historically accurate, no one was complaining about the use of electric fans in the 90 degree plus heat. I commend the crews of both vessels for their stamina and fortitude for pressing on and watching over each other as well as the thousands of visitors.
The last two weeks ascending the Mohawk Valley the schedule has been intense. After a stellar kickoff weekend in Waterford, we ascended the “flight of five” locks that began our journey on the Mohawk Valley. In rapid succession we stopped in Amsterdam, Canajoharie, Little Falls, Rome, Ilion, and finally Sylvan Beach on the weekend after the 4th of July. Some of these shows were only one day or evening stops and with each stop comes the labor intensive process of setting up the vessels for visitors. Awning structures are raised, heavy platforms, railings, and ramps are installed along with setting up shoreside tents with no break from the intense heat.
The grateful communities have shown us support on every level from promotions in local media to complimentary hotels and free meals. Over and over we hear the echoes of thank you for coming to our communities expressed by the visitors.The sense of gratitude that we experience makes all of the hard work in challenging conditions worthwhile.