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Notes

Terms and Definitions Cited in Text

1. A "portage" is a place where a boat has to be carried around an obstacle in the river.

2. "Crooks" are the natural bends in tree roots or branches where the grain follows the curve of the piece being cut and so gives extra strength. These were particularly sought after by boat and ship builders.

3. The "stem" or "stem post" is at the front of the boat.

4. The "rake" is the degree to which the stem or stern post leans away from the center of the boat.

5. The "stern" or "stern post" is at the rear of the boat. Only batteaux have a stern post.

6. "Oakum" is a rope-like fiber that is forced into the seams between boards in a boat or a wooden lock to make them watertight.

7. "Pitch" is a tar-like substance produced from the pine tree and used as a sealer.

8. Gabriel Christie to John Pownal, 11 January, 1776.

9. The depth a boat sinks into the water is the amount it "draws."

10. The payment for the "painter" was 3 shillings. This would be equivalent to 3 breakfasts or a half day's wages for a skilled boatman in 1792, suggesting too high a price for a length of rope.

11. Durham boats were sixty feet long and eight feet wide with flat bottoms like a batteau, but vertical, parallel sides. They were driven by a crew of five or six men using long poles and cleated walking boards that ran the length of the boat. Although many were built in Schenectady, their design originated in the Delaware River valley.

12. Canal locks consisted of a box-like chamber big enough to hold a boat and two sets of wooden gates that could close to hold back the water. By manipulating these gates, a boat could enter a lock and be raised up to the level of the water upriver, or, coming downriver, could be lowered. Locks of this period usually had a lift of no more than 10 or 12 feet.

13. The first locks and dams were built of wood using some of the techniques developed for water-powered mills. Wooden locks were caulked with oakum and pitch, just like a boat, but to keep the water in, not out.

14. A "neck" is the narrow land that lies between the two channels of a river as it forms a loop or meander.

15. The term "deepwater" is relative to the late 18th century. In a time when a batteau required only 18 inches of water and the large Durham boats could sail on only two feet, the term "deep" could mean only three feet.

16. A "forwarder" was someone who shipped goods toward their destination, usually over some obstacle, such as a series of rapids or a land carry.

17. The long loop of the Binnekill and its separation from the Mohawk River made its water sluggish or "slack."

18. "Wharves" are usually built out into the river using timber or fill, and boats tie up alongside.

19. The waterfront in Schenectady appears to have been little more than a stabilization of the bank of the Binnekill, which created a waterside roadway, or "quay," for loading.

20. "Rifts" were not so much rapids as they were extremely shallow places in the river.

21. "Land carriage" and "portage" are the same thing.

22. Work on the Little Falls Canal began in 1793 and the canal was completed in 1795.

23. Landings on a river permitted a boat to be taken out of the water to be portaged. The terms "upper" and "lower" could apply to the top and bottom of the portage or to positions of the same landing at different times of the year, when the amount of water controlled how far upriver you could go before having to portage.

24. The "head" of navigation is the furthest point you can drive your boat upriver.

25. The wood obstructing the river came from trees that naturally fell in and were washed downstream as well as trees that farmers along the banks cut and let fall into the river during land clearing activities.

26. In the late summer, when river levels were low, a boat would have to leave the Mohawk much sooner and have to go much further down Wood Creek to find deep enough water.

27. A "scow" is a square-ended boat with a flat bottom, usually the same shape front and back and often used as a work boat, ferry or utility boat.

28. The Rome Canal was begun in 1796 and completed in 1797.

29. General Burgoyne was descending the Hudson Valley toward Albany in 1777 and was stopped near Stillwater, the location where rapids prevented batteau travel.

30. Military "fatigue" duty was any manual labor, such as digging trenches or cutting firewood.

31. It seems that some of the expedition were paid for twelve days, the days actually underway on the river, instead of the fourteen calander days from the start to the finish of the voyage.

32. In the late 18th century, much of western New York was uninhabited and undeveloped. Speculators bought up vast holdings in the hope that settlement would occur and sales would bring in great profits. Obviously, an improved transportation system serving these undeveloped lands would speed that process.

33. The military science of "logistics" involves coordinating movement of personnel and materials.

34. The Patowmack Canal was begun on the Potomac River in Virginia in 1790 and included several short by-pass canals around falls similar to those built by Schuyler in New York State.

35. The Fort Stanwix treaty line generally divided available land east from Native land west of a line running south to Pennsylvania from the vicinity of Rome, New York.

36. A "housewright" is someone who builds houses.

37. A "millwright" is someone who builds mills, not someone who operates mills.

38. The "bounty" lands given to Revolutionary War veterans as compnesation for their service were located primarily in the central and northern areas of the State, in what is now Herkimer, Oneida and Onondaga counties.

39. The construction of the canal at Forth and Clyde in Scotland represents one of the earliest major canal projects in Europe.

40. "Pretending" in this context simply means "claiming" and does not suggest "making believe."

41. Many if not most of the "taverns" along the Mohawk route in 1792 were little more than the homes of local farmers where one could obtain food and lodging. Few inns built specifically for entertaining travelers existed along the path west 200 years ago.

42. Here "groce" probably does not mean a "gross" [144] but merely a quantity or a wholesale bulk, as in the root of the term "grocer" or "grocery."

43. "Emetics" induced vomiting and, in the medical theory of the times, rid the body of upsetting substances.

44. "Accountrements" included such things as surveying instruments, notebooks, tools, and essentially anything carried that was not directly part of one's clothing.

45. The "Pine Bush" region between Albany and Schenectady is a northern example of a "pine barren," where one species of tree predominates.

Illustration Credits:

Figure 1: The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.

Figure 2: The New York State Museum.

Figure 3: The New York State Library.

Figure 4: The Oneida County Historical Society.

Figure 5: The Oneida County Historical Society.

Figure 6: The Mongomery County Archives.

Figure 7: The New York State Library.

Figure 8: The New York Public Library.

Additional Sources:

Direct references not cited, as well as Figure 8 and the autographs reproduced above, are taken from the manuscripts in the Philip J. Schuyler Papers; Rare Books and Manuscripts Division; The New York Public Library; Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

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