Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prescriptions and more canal stuff

We have had our prescriptions on file with Wal-Mart for the past several years. They are just about everywhere and transferring prescriptions from one store to another is easily done online. We just sign on to Wal-Mart's site and order a refill, specifying that we will pick them up at a nearby store. We have had no problems with this process anywhere we have been, even in Alaska, but New York State is another story. Luckily we found out before we made a big mistake.

When I tried to order refills for our prescriptions yesterday, and have them filled at the Olean Wal-Mart, the computer said we had to call the store. The pharmacist explained that New York State has a really goofy law regarding transferring prescriptions. You can have a prescription transferred from another store and refilled one time at the store you transfer it to, but any remaining refills are automatically canceled and you must get a new prescription from your Dr. It does not make a difference how many refills you have left on your prescription. It does not make a difference whether the original pharmacy is in another state or within New York.

How dumb is that? As far as we can tell, NY is the only state that does this. I posted a question about this on an RV forum I participate in heavily, and learned that others have run into this same problem. No one is aware of any other state with similar laws. One person said they transferred 25 prescriptions (Wow!) to a local pharmacy (in person at the store, not online) when they were traveling in NY, and the pharmacist was happy to oblige. But he did not tell them that they could not be refilled or transferred again. When they tried to have them refilled again a month later in another state they learned the hard way about this stupid state law. Imagine their difficulty in obtaining new prescriptions from all their various Dr.'s.

Since we learned of the ramifications before we ordered them yesterday, we instead ordered the refills at the Wal-Mart in Bradford, PA. It's only about 15 miles south of Olean so it was no big deal to go get them. In fact, it was a nice ride on the scooter.

On the way back we stopped in Hinsdale to look at the remains of Lock 102 on the Genesee Valley Canal. It is next to the American Legion. When we got home I was doing some more research and finally found a better map of where the canal went. It was then that I discovered that I was wrong in my post yesterday about where the sluice line fed the canal. It turns out that the canal was indeed further down in the valley to the east. It turns out that when the railroad was built, they did not follow the canal exactly. They wanted to keep the railroad as straight as possible and it was not difficult for them to build up a railroad bed in many areas. The canal builders on the other hand, had to follow the terrain exactly so they could maintain a ditch that did not change in level. It was not nearly so straight as the railroad which was built after the canal was abandoned in 1878.

If you look at the map I included with the previous post you can follow the canal north for about 1 1/2 miles until you will see where it joins the railroad bed. If you continue to follow it you can see where it often deviates from the old railroad as it continues north past Black Creek. In fact, by looking at the aerial views it is apparent that when we took the hike on Sunday with Dale, there were many times when we were not walking along the old canal tow path. We were walking on the old railroad bed instead. Many times they did run together but sometimes they were as much as a few hundred feet apart. That explains why we sometimes could not see evidence of the canal. We hypothesized that perhaps some of it had been filled in as the railroad bed crossed from one side to the other, or that some farmer had filled it in. Now I know better. I am willing to bet that this is the situation along most of the old canal.

The thing that adds to the confusion about this is the fact that the Genesee Valley Canal Greenway, the trail that has been developed along most of the route, follows the old railroad bed and not the canal. I wonder how many people are even aware of that?

I am going to put up all the photos of canal stuff in the next couple days. Isn't this fun?


  1. Being the first to comment on my own post may not be good form, but I wanted to add that today I checked in town for evidence of the canal. It entered just about at Water Street and followed it for a ways. Do you suppose that is why the street came to be known as Water Street? It continues along the north side of the football field at the high school, then across to the south side of the valley on its way toward Hinsdale. You can also see it clearly on Bull Street which runs from near the old Acme Plant on Water to West Main near the old train depot. I know Mom has mentioned that she saw remains of the canal beside the school when she went there. There were no locks in this area, but there may have been other structures in town. This section was part of the "Summit Level", a 12 mile stretch of the canal that extended from near Black Creek almost to Hinsdale without any locks. Since the water was only 4 feet deep, they had to pay close attention to the terrain to stay on exactly the same level for that distance.

  2. The highest spot in Allegany Co. used to be at the top of Clarksville Hill--2100 feet. I don't know if that was pave road spot, or actual. It seems as though there was a spot above Rushford Lake where you could see the whole lake; I thought that was higher--it sure was a prettier view.

  3. What was the purpose of this canal?

  4. Donna, the canal was planned to connect the East Coast with the Mississippi River system. The Erie Canal from the Hudson River near Albany went to Buffalo and thence to the Great Lakes. But there was no way to get to the Ohio or Mississippi Rivers without going all the way to New Orleans. The Genesee Valley Canal ran from the Erie Canal where it passed through Rochester, to Olean which was on the Allegheny River. The Allegheny flows into the Ohio (it's one of the three rivers that meet in Pittsburgh) and thence to the Mississippi. Sounded like a good idea. Unfortunately they started so late, and took so long to build it, that the railroads had taken over. Trains are just so much faster and easier to build, and they can move freight much more quickly too. The canal was only used for 20 years, from 1858 to 1878, when it was abandoned. It was paid for by the State, and never even generated enough money to pay for the maintenance. It did, however, open up the Genesee Valley to development, generate a lot of construction jobs, and provide communities like Rochester with much cheaper supplies of wood and other goods than they would otherwise have been able to obtain.

  5. So, transportation then, rather than irrigation or flood control? On google maps it looks so tiny and narrow that I couldn't imagine any vessel navigating it. How wide was it in its prime? You mentioned it is only 4 feet deep in one section.

  6. The following is a quote from one of the sources I linked to the the previous post. "These contracts and plans called for a canal twenty-six feet wide on the bottom, forty-two feet wide at water-surface, the banks seven feet high and calculated for four feet of water, the locks to be built of hammer-dressed masonry, laid in hydraulic cement, ninety feet long and fifteen feet wide."

    The canal was not four feet in one section; it was four feet deep along its entire length. Remember that they had limited water to operate it.

    Here is a description of the canal boats from another source. "The boats which plied the Genesee Valley Canal were said to have been well built, clean and attractively painted. They were round at the bow and square at the stern, about 80 feet long and 14 feet wide, with a cabin at the rear for living quarters and one at the other end for the crew and horses. The boats could carry up to 90 tons and often transported 50 to 80 thousand board feet of lumber, or as much as 50 cords of wood."

    The houseboats we rented on Lake Powell were 14 by 50 if I remember correctly, so these canal boats were as wide but 30 feet longer.

    I also read somewhere that Cuba Lake provided enough water to operate the locks for up to 27 boats a day through this area. I don't know how many actually did pass through, but they did raise the dam twice during the first few years to increase the size of the lake.

  7. Donna, one more thing. I just realized that you may not be aware that the canal boats were not powered. They were towed by horses or mules that walked along the side of the canal on what was called the towpath. All the canals worked that way in those days.