Leaving the Locks: the Wharf and Ferry Dock

When you reach the final cribbing of the tailrace described in this post, by whichever way you got there, you now have the opportunity to explore the municipal wharf footings and the ferry dock and road on your way back to shore.Full-Lock-Wharf-and-Ferry-Dock-with-ArrowsYou can leave the locks from anywhere you wish, but the photo below shows the relative distances from shore. Anywhere you see land in the photo, you’ll swim through weeds today. (Should you decide to leave from the locks themselves, therefore, your entire long swim in would be weedy, and you’d end up far short of the beach.)exit-possibilitiesweb

So… you’ve come to the end of the 3rd cribbing and found a line heading north from the north side of the crib. Do NOT take this line (well, of course you can take it; it will take you towards shore but you won’t see the wharf or the ferry dock – more about this exit in another post to come). Instead, swim around the corner (to the east side of the crib) and continue east from there…22 crib3d line-out-dont take the line webIt’s a matter of striking out over sand with no initial landmarks. Your friends are the tiny patches of weeds in front of you bent flat along the sand in the direction of the easterly current. They’re flat because the current is stronger than it seems. Stay tuned to your compass – you want to go east with the weeds!01-tiny-weeds-east-in-current webIn a minute or two (when you are new to this, it seems forever), you’ll start seeing other landmarks. They change somewhat from the start of the season to the end with their accumulation of weeds, but they are specific to the area. The leaning posts should be on your left. The boulders should be on your right.

Keep your eyes peeled ahead for some well-worn wooden debris, followed by a long wooden beam, usually seen on your right, lying on the sand pointing east.

Attached to the end of this beam is a line – heading north. Follow it!09-beam-end-with-line-webThe line will take you directly to the municipal wharf, a large, well-preserved foundation with smooth, squared, intersecting beams outlining the shape of the wharf. The engineering is interesting, and there are usually lots of fish hanging out here.

You now have 2 choices: First – you can go around to the north side of the wharf and continue following the same line north to reach this big hunk of cement. We don’t know what this is… perhaps a counterweight for shipping or a crane?  It’s shaped like a coffin so it has been dubbed “Jimmy Hoffa’s Grave” (look it up if you don’t know who Jimmy Hoffa was!).

13-jimmy-hoffa-grave1-web 14-jimmy-hoffa-grave2-web

Then, with eyes glued to your compass, head north-east over sand to the ferry dock.

Your second choice is to leave directly from the eastern edge of the wharf and head north-east to the ferry dock.  Either way, it will be about a 3-minute swim (I think… I forgot to accurately time it last year) over sand without many helpful features until you get close, when the usual boulders and hunks of wood can be found.

The construction of the ferry dock is quite different from the wharf. Whole logs have been stacked without squaring them off. There are chunks of iron presumably used for anchoring the columns.

The ferry travelled between Morrisburg and Waddington, NY in the early 1900s.

Now you want to find the ferry road and follow it towards shore. It heads from the footings of the dock in a slight N-NW direction, ever so slightly into the current. It has posts regularly placed on its western edge and we’ve put a line along these posts. In its day the road was gravel and remains so, looking not much different from the land around it except that it is smooth and raised on a boulder base about 15 feet wide. The best landmarks are the posts. Follow them to the end where the line is attached to a larger base. The depth is about 15 feet.

As you near the end of the road, the weeds begin. Head directly north through them and you’ll find your way to the beach, crossing over the old Highway 2 (see photo at the top) along the way.  You’ve still got about a 5 minute swim and it’s pretty shallow – about 8 feet – so deploy a surface marker buoy to alert boat traffic!25-weeds-in-to-beach-web


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