Erie canal houseboat library needed!
September 30, 2020 6:41 PM   Subscribe

My parents are taking a houseboat up (down?) the Erie Canal. This is a perfect nerdy, cosy, quirky vacation for them. Please help me make it more perfect by suggesting things I can get them to read, watch, or listen to that will enhance the experience. May be related to Erie, canals, houseboats, or any combinations thereof!
posted by Ausamor to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The original Erie Canal song
posted by Violet Hour at 6:55 PM on September 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Three Men in a Boat.
posted by sock_slink_slink at 7:08 PM on September 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

... (to Say Nothing of the Dog).
posted by sock_slink_slink at 7:23 PM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

My friend Dave Ruch does music-based programs (mainly for kids) about a lot of NY State history, including a lot about the canal. He's got a few videos on his channel feature "Low Bridge Everybody Down" (aka "The Erie Canal Song")
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:24 PM on September 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Books about great lakes shipping. Start with Farley Mowatt:

The Grey Seas Under

Stories about a salvage tug working to recover/rescue various ships in trouble in the great lakes and assorted lock/seaways. An additional collection of stories were published in The Serpent's Coil.

There are many other collection of books about disasters on the great lakes... but this is a good starting point.
posted by sol at 8:11 PM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

This American Life did a piece about the canal. It includes another Erie Canal song.
posted by CathyG at 8:53 PM on September 30, 2020

Best answer: River Horse: Across America By Boat. William Least Heat-Moon takes a motorboat from New York Harbor, up the Hudson, along the Erie Canal, and (presumably, I haven't finished it yet) onwards to the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. It's somehow both boring and also captivating, in a good way, if that makes any sense at all.
posted by yeahlikethat at 9:17 PM on September 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Canal Boatman was on our shelves when I was a kid (but we lived near the Delaware & Hudson Canal, or more precisely, where it used to be).
posted by niicholas at 9:40 PM on September 30, 2020

If they have access to Hulu USA, I quite enjoyed the improbable mashup of zombie apocalypse and canal life that is British comedy series Zomboat. You would think that a joke about the famous slowness of canal boats would get old, but each of the thirty minute episodes (six in all) proved to me that joke never wears out. It's funny each time.
posted by seasparrow at 11:22 PM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wedding of the Waters is a pretty good history of the Canal itself.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 12:21 AM on October 1, 2020

(Rather than abuse the edit window, let me expand on that...)

Wedding of the Waters is a pretty good history of the Canal itself.

The Erie Canal not only opened the Old Northwest to settlement (and made NYC the premier port on the seaboard) - but it also resulted in a boom in the settlement of western New York State.

And the sudden uprootedness that followed led to a population searching for new answers; and thus The Burned-Over District - a regional history of the impact of the Canal settlements that has remained more-or-less continually in print for 70 years now.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 12:32 AM on October 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

A little Cary Grant: Houseboat (1958) and Father Goose (1964).

A little Tammy Tyree (who grew up on the mighty Mississippi on a houseboat with her grandpa: Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), Tammy Tell Me True (1961), Tammy and the Doctor (1963).
posted by TrishaU at 4:32 AM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding River Horse. Each chapter kinda stands alone and you can open the book anywhere and be entertained.
posted by mareli at 7:29 AM on October 1, 2020

Best answer: The Captain of Tugg 44 has a pretty great resource-based website here: Tugg44

John Kucko, a local TV-guy is a huge fan of the Canal has a lot of great videos on his twitter: @John_kucko

The Erie Canal Corp. has a pretty good site, and you can sign up for their Notice To Mariners which e-mails you updates on the various canal structures and their status:

I live and work on the Erie Canal, and here's the webcam for my home port: Fairport Dock

I work as dockmaster in Fairport on Tues/Wed, so if they come through here, tell them to look me up. Or you can memail me for any other questions. I'm guessing they're leaving soon, because the Canal closes to navigation on October 14. Hope they have a great trip!
posted by valkane at 8:22 AM on October 1, 2020 [7 favorites]

Is the Erie Canal part of the St. Lawrence Seaway? Mike Ford and David Francey recorded an album about the seaway. THey got a grant to travel aboard on cargo ship on the seaway and write songs about it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:04 AM on October 1, 2020

Oh, and don't forget Stan Rogers' album about the Great Lakes region, From Fresh Water.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:06 AM on October 1, 2020

Rome Haul by Walter Edmonds and published in 1929 is a fascinating story set on the canal. It was made into a play and then the movie The Farmer Takes a Wife.
posted by maurice at 11:07 AM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Narrowboat Tales. Two friends of mine have a narrowboat (UK name for a canal boat) and they can't get enough of this.
posted by essexjan at 11:17 AM on October 1, 2020

Seconding Riverhorse
posted by kbuxton at 11:28 AM on October 1, 2020

There's a whole class of YouTube channels of people who live and travel on the canals in England. They're lovely.
posted by idb at 3:15 PM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Agnes Varda's Uncle Yanco has a lot of houseboats in the San Francisco Bay in the 1960s. Unfortunately this version does not have subtitles. It's less than 20 minutes though an worth a watch anyway. There are drugs and sex if I recall, but honestly all the cool houseboats are in the first 4 minutes, so they could just stop after that.

Also here's a doc about living on a houseboat in the Atchafalaya in Louisiana.
posted by Duffington at 4:19 PM on October 1, 2020

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