A man came rushing from a house,
Saying, "Snub up your boat I pray,
Snub up your boat, snub up, alas,
Snub up while yet you may."
Mark Twain's satirical poem "The
Aged Pilot Man" highlights
characteristic of canal life as true
now as it was in the 19th-century
(though hopefully with much less
drama!). Snubbing posts of the old
Erie Canal are now the bollards of
the Erie Barge Canal. Barges of
today like the canal boats of the
past lack their own motive power.
To stop them requires great care. Rope lines attached
to the barge are looped around the hour-glass shaped
bollards. By gradually tightening the looped rope as the
barge moves along, the barge hand can slowly bring the
massive vessel to a controlled stop. Doing so too quickly
breaks the rope with needed control being then lost over
the barge's direction and speed. And, yes, once stopped
the barge can also be secured to the canal wall with
several rope lines reaching to several of the bollards.
Their modest shape and size belie the critical role that
bollards have in canal life.