Posted by: bkivey | 24 September 2016

2016 Vacation Pt. 2.5

One of the reasons I chose a downtown hotel was easy access to the waterfront. Like many waterfront cities, Buffalo has redeveloped the area into a park. Anchored on one end by a yacht basin, the park is an inviting place to stroll and is popular with residents. Buffalo calls its park Canalside because the Erie canal terminates here:

buffalo-erie-canal

buffalo-erie-canal-plaque

Directly behind me the canal empties into the Buffalo river, which in turn runs for a short distance from here to Lake Erie. The Buffalo river is a working river, and there are still a few grain elevators in the area. Apparently the modern grain elevator was invented in Buffalo.

buffalo-graiin-elevator-plaque

buffalo-grain-plaque

Buffalo has a bike share program:

buffalo-bike-share-bikes

Immediately adjacent is the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. I had no idea this existed, although it’s hard to miss.

buffalo-naval-museum-panorama-1

Portland has a submarine. Buffalo has a submarine, too. And a cruiser, a destroyer, and a variety of other military hardware. Canada better think twice before invading Buffalo. Adult admission to the museum is $12. The first display floor is above the gift shop and includes Coast Guard, WWI and WW II artifacts, as well as a section on the War of 1812. Much of that war was fought in Lake Ontario/ Lake Erie area. Displays on that war are as ubiquitous in the region as Lewis & Clark displays in the Northwest.

The WW II gallery:

buffalo-naval-museum-ww-ii-1

K-rations, in case you’ve never seen them. I hadn’t. Back in the day each ration came with five cigarettes. I can see where possibly dying of cancer in the next 30 years would pale in comparison to the more concrete possibility of dying in the next 30 minutes.

buffalo-naval-museum-k-rations

A model of a paddle-wheel training carrier used on the Lakes during the war. I’d never heard of this. The paddle wheel is directly above the sign.

buffalo-naval-museum-side-wheel-carrier-model

There’s a WW II map of the Pacific captured from a Japanese soldier:

buffalo-naval-museum-japanese-map

A couple of Asian gentleman were examining the map, and I asked them if they could read it. They said not really: they were Chinese.

Next to the museum building is another building housing a variety of military artifacts:

buffalo-naval-museum-bulding-two

There’s a display yard next to the building with full-sized equipment:

buffalo-naval-museum-outdoor-display-1

The craft on the right was known as a ‘Weasel’, which I found amusing.

“What’d you do in the war, grandpa?”

“I ran a weasel.”

So that’s a pretty fair amount of stuff to see for $12, but there’s still three ships to tour. The ship tours are arranged so that you start at the stern of the destroyer, follow the yellow line all over the ship, come out at the stern of the cruiser, follow the tour, exit at the stern of the submarine, follow that tour, then exit to the quay. The ship tours are as complete as any I’ve seen, and the tour route takes you to all parts of the ships. It’s really well done. On the day there were former crew from the cruiser working on the ship, and it was interesting to talk to them. The ships are maintained entirely through volunteer labor, and as anyone who’s owned a boat can tell you, even basic maintenance is a job of work, much less expanding the public spaces. These aren’t 40′ pleasure boats.

Some recent deck work:

uss-little-rock-new-deck

And some areas awaiting restoration:

uss-little-rock-work-to-be-done

There was a space that some folks have used as a wishing well:

uss-little-rock-coins

I wondered about corrosion. The USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu specifically discourages tossing coins in the water for that reason.

The destroyer is pretty much preserved as it was on active duty, but the cruiser is much larger. Consequently several of spaces have been turned into mini-museums. There are spaces dedicated to the Marines, the Polish military, female soldiers, and more. Each of the museums on board is the work of a few volunteers with an interest in that area. The result is that for the price of admission, you’re getting a number of museums for the price of one. If there’s a better museum value extant, I don’t know it. Depending on whether you talk to former crew, it’s reasonable to expect to spend 4 – 6 hours. There’s a restaurant on the grounds, so you can tour for a bit, take a break, and resume. The museum closes at 5, but if you’re on a ship at closing, you can complete the tour of that ship.

There’s a lighthouse at the harbor entrance and  I wanted to get a shot at sunset. The lighthouse is located adjacent the Coast Guard station, and the freeway cutting across the waterfront makes getting to the spot neither obvious nor particularly easy. The sun went down a bit faster than anticipated, so I missed the sunset, but got the lighthouse:

buffalo-lighthouse-2

Downtown Buffalo at dusk:

buffalo-downtown

And the best-lighted grain elevator I’ve seen. The lights change color.

buffalo-lighted-grain-elevator

And that was it for my time in Buffalo.

I like Buffalo. In many ways Portland and Buffalo are alike. They have more lakes and snow; we have more volcanoes and rivers, but the development of the cities, the industrial base, and the city layouts are similar. One difference is that Buffalo embraces its industrial heritage, whereas Portland wants the money industry brings without, you know, the industry. I like Buffalo, but Portland has better weather. Advantage: Portland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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