Keeping a Close Eye on Water Level in Canal
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“We're trying to get that bike outta there!” exclaimed 11-year-old Austin.
When the water drops on the Erie Canal in Albion, you find some unexpected things.
“I walked over to the edge, and I looked down and I saw the bike.”
“How long do you think it was in there?”
“Ummm... three or four years.”
This week, the canal has dropped more than ten feet. A 25-mile stretch has been drained as crews repair a leak in the canal wall that caused a giant sinkhole.
“When I grew up in Europe, we used to sing songs about the Erie Canal. And so you grow up with this thing – 'in America there's this thing called the Erie Canal,’” said Marit Vaga of Albion Main Street Alliance.
Vaga grew up in Sweden and lived for a time in Canada before moving to Albion and opening a cafe ten years ago.
“I told all my family in Europe and wherever they live, I said 'I'm living along the Erie Canal, it goes right through our town, can you believe it?'”
But the sight of a shallow canal is a bit alarming.
"Certainly springtime, we see this... and when they start to drain it. So to see it now in August, it was a little unfortunate. A little sad,” Vaga said.
Normal depth for the canal is anywhere from 12 to 20 feet deep, depending on where you are. It’s plenty of water for boats of nearly all sizes to navigate, but now it’d be tough to even get a rowboat in there.
Now the president of the Albion Main Street Alliance, Marit has to worry how the canal drainage – expected to last several weeks – will affect tourist business on Main Street.
"There have been people from Japan, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, Spain, France, and of course Canada,” Vaga said. “So yeah, summertimes are very critical to us. We try to make hay while the sun shines."
But, even if boaters and canal tourists are temporarily blocked from Albion, Marit believes business will be just fine.
"This community, they have tremendous perseverance and tremendous tenacity, and this community has learned to roll with the punches and they're going to make the best of it. I have no doubt that – that we'll get through it. Absolutely."