A Flight Simulator Odyssey

by Charles Gulick

End of a Story

Chart: Detroit
En Route Coordinates:
   Aircraft: N17872, E19412
   Tower: --
   Aircraft: 1500
   Tower: --
Heading: 280
Time: Daylight
Note: Although this scenario ends with a landing on Goat Island, do not disable Crash Protection even if you're able to.

This little triangular arm of water flowing into the Niagara River at North Tonawanda, New about 15 miles north of Buffalo--may not look like much. But it's just that, much.

This is the quiet conclusion of a story that begins many years ago and about 365 miles east of here, at Albany, New York. I am indebted to a fine businesswoman and dear friend, Shirley Levit of Florida, for suggesting its inclusion in our Odyssey.

This is the end of a historic inland water route, the Erie Canal.

As early as the 1700s, men had envisioned a waterway reaching west from the Atlantic Ocean, one that would link the Hudson River with the Great Lakes and thus the heart-land of the American continent. But to realize such a dream, man would have to construct it with his hands, literally digging a path for it westward along the Mohawk Valley and the Appalachians, attempting to wrest a great, navigable ditch from what was a ruthless wilderness.

Early in the nineteenth century, federal financing for such a project was sought and denied. It was De Witt Clinton, mayor of New York City from 1803 to 1815, and unsuccessful presidential candidate opposing James Madison in 1812, who in 1817 campaigned for governorship of New York with the promise that Clinton's Ditch could and would be dug. He won the election and work began that year. Nine years later the fruits of a labor of epic proportions were realized . . . and not without its toll in lives.

An unbelievable engineering accomplishment for its time, replete with locks and aqueducts, the Erie Canal was all men had dreamed it would be. In 1825, a celebration in New York hailed the arrival of the initial procession of boats on the Erie Canal, and Clinton poured a keg of Lake Erie water into the Atlantic.

The canal turned Buffalo into a great port, and along its shores, towns and cities were born and thrived. It was the chief migration route for settlers of the Middle West. It turned cities like Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago--as well as New York itself--into mighty hubs of trade and finance. Farm products were shipped east along it, and manufactured products were shipped west. Other canals would soon emulate the Erie, but it was the first and greatest of them all.

With the advent of railroads, the canal lessened in importance, and was allowed to deteriorate. But early in this century it was repaired, modernized and incorporated into the New York State Barge Canal system, where today it continues to serve as an indispensable commercial route.

So that little geometric arm of water ahead of you has quite a history, though this is all of it to be found in Scenery Disk 11. Follow its lead to the Niagara, and then turn north-ward with the river and follow it. You'll see Niagara Falls International ahead, but pass by it and point toward the distant Niagara Observation Tower. Shoot a landing--one more time--at your private strip on Goat Island, but this time shoot from the opposite direction. Your heading on final will be about 285. Mind your landing roll doesn't carry you over the edge.

Brakes! Brakes!

Now why do you suppose that happened?

Well, those are the breaks. But it was erie--I mean eerie--wasn't it?

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