Aug 31, 2010

Enjoy a Boat Ride on the Oneida River

John and I often joke that, “If we didn’t live in Central New York we would have to visit.” We recently had the perfect CNY day. On a sunny Saturday we went to Brewerton and boarded the Mystere riverboat for a sightseeing cruise on the Oneida River.

The 90-minute cruise started out with a long, loud horn blast to alert other boaters that we were getting underway. With Captain Jeff Pyle at the helm, the Mystere cruised up the canalized Oneida River pass a lighthouse. Strangely it never occurred to me that there would be lighthouses on the canal. It is amazing how different Central New York looks from a waterway. Along the river there are a variety of buildings from camps to McCamps to year-round homes. There were also a variety of watercrafts from a cabin cruiser out of Portland, Oregon to pontoon boats to jet skis. The speed limit is 10 miles per hour so it was a relaxing ride. We locked through Lock 24 where on some of the Mystere cruises passengers can debark for a tour of the lockmaster’s house.

Captain Jeff shares his knowledge of the area including the fact that the current lockmaster is the third generation of his family to man the locks. The lockmasters have a yearly competition to see who has the best looking lock area. It is easy to see why Lock 23 usually wins. We have locked through in many places in many parts of the world but it is always interesting and fun.

The Mystere was built in Baldwinsville and plied the waters of the Fulton Chain out of Old Forge for many years. An interesting fact shared by Jeff was that the Mystere is not able to return to its birthplace in Baldwinsville because of the low bridges between Brewerton and Baldwinsville. There were several reasons for low bridges on the canal. One was because farmers who had fields on both sides of the canal had to build their own bridges so they built them as low as possible. A reason I had never had never heard before had to do with the tussle between land haulers and river haulers of goods. Water transportation is the cheapest but those who transported goods by land were able to get some of the bridges built at a height that kept some of the river transports from continuing on.

After we returned to Brewerton we crossed the bridge in the hope of visiting the Block House but it wasn’t open. We had a late lunch on deck of the Calypso Cay Restaurant and continued to enjoy the beautiful day. It was from that deck that we first saw the Mystere on the opposite side of the river and vowed to take the trip. It was a wonderful relaxing CNY day. Once again I am amazed at how many local people never heard about the cruise; however, there were people from Maine and Connecticut on our cruise.

The Mystere runs several cruises from Thursday to Sunday from May to October. Some are dinner or lunch cruises others have a theme such as Ladies Only Casino Night. The sightseeing cruise is only $15 and they have a family rate. For more information call 315-934-4157 or log on to Some times nothing beats a day in Central New York!