When Susan and Colleen came for a visit from Pittsburgh, Pa., they wanted to go on Captain John’s (click here) narrated boat tour of the Seneca-Cayuga Canal and Seneca Lake. We had taken this trip with Susan earlier in the summer and we enjoyed it so much that it was on our “must do again” list of things when she returned.
The boat trip is relaxing and soothing. If one goes back more than 200 years ago before the first white man came into the Waterloo and Seneca Falls Region in 1791 (click here), the native Indians used the Seneca River as their highway of travel from Seneca Lake to Cayuga Lake, to hunt and fish, and to live along the shores of this waterway. But when the first white men came, they recognized the power of the Seneca River and immediately began building saw mills and grist mills which were powered by the flowing water.
Today, the heritage of the Seneca-Cayuga Canal has been preserved as the south bank has been kept natural. No development is allowed on this side of the canal and is kept as it was in the time of the Indians. On the north side of the canal, there are many homes and marinas which house people who like to live along this beautiful waterway. During the Second World War, the United States Coast Guard even maintained a station on the Seneca-Cayuga Canal as the Navy conducted submarine research on Seneca Lake near the Sampson State Marine Park. The old Coast Guard Station is in disrepair but has been declared a historical structure, and the present owner can not change it into a modern residence.
One example of today’s present structures along Seneca Lake is the Ramada Inn at Geneva. This structure is heated and cooled by the lake water. The rooms do not have balconies or windows which can be opened as that would upset the geothermal air-conditioning system. The Inn is enjoyed by many visitors to Geneva, NY and is the chosen location for many weddings which occur on the beautiful Seneca Lake.
Captain John likes to talk about the past, present and future of Seneca Lake. The key to the future is to not overdevelop the Finger Lakes so that they can be a place of beauty for generations to come. We thoroughly enjoyed our boat ride with Captain John, and when Captain John docks his boat, there are no tracks left on the canal or on Seneca Lake so the canal and the lake can be enjoyed again and again by everyone!