I have a confession to make: I was nervous about going on this tour. It takes place on a BOAT. I haven’t been on a boat in YEARS.
The last time I was on a boat was five years ago when I went on a dinner cruise in San Francisco. I didn’t get sick…but I couldn’t eat any of my dinner, and after I popped a Dramamine I was so tired that I curled up on a bench and went to sleep until the boat returned to the harbor. In other words, boats and I don’t get along very well.
Flashback: Here I am hanging off a trolley bus in San Francisco, July 2008. We were on our way to the dinner cruise! I was in town for the BlogHer conference (I was a paid contributor for BlogHer.com for three years).
When I heard about the Buffalo River History Tour I knew I wanted to make an exception to my “No Boats!” rule. I was told the Buffalo River is calm and I figured the boat would be on the move most of the time, which would minimize the sickness-inducing rolling back and forth.
For those who suffer from motion sickness like myself, I’d like to assure you that this tour shouldn’t bother you. I was fine. I took one Dramamine an hour before the tour (the “less drowsy” kind), and I made sure I was the last person to board and one of the first people to disembark. There was a period of about 10 minutes — when our boat ventured out of the Buffalo River and closer to Lake Erie — where we were in choppier water, but it didn’t last long. I was extremely relieved to make it through without any issues.
Paul and I took the tour on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Unbeknownst to us, our boat tour included a walking tour of Silo City! Paul and I had just been there the day before for City of Night, but I enjoyed the opportunity to take photos in daylight without a bunch of people around. I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in grain elevators but has never seen them up close.
Here is a description of the boat tour directly from their website:
Take a cruise through history and join us for a 90-minute narrated Buffalo River History Tour! Hear the story of the Erie Canal, Buffalo’s history as the largest grain port in the world, and experience the nation’s largest collection of standing grain elevators from just a few feet away.
Come travel along the waterway that made Buffalo one of the biggest and richest cities in the world while you gaze up at the magnificent structures that drove its growth. Hear the stories of Buffalo’s scoopers – residents and immigrants alike – who worked the docks and mills, feeding the nation and the city’s “Guilded” economy.
We boarded our boat at Canalside:
Our captain and tour guide:
General Mills, one of the last working grain elevators in Buffalo, still makes cereal (Cheerios) and flour (Gold Medal brand). The smell of cereal was quite strong as we passed by on the river that day.
Here are some grain elevators we passed on our trip:
At one point, we passed underneath the Skyway (which was shut down for a day in July to film an episode of “Top Gear”).
This boat is the main attraction at the Buffalo Naval Park.
A view with downtown in the distance:
This is the Buffalo Main Light:
The following photos were taken inside Silo City. (More photos of the area can be seen in my post about City of Night.)
This was our group inside a grain elevator, which is a good example of the sheer size of the place.
You can see some art on the columns left over from City of Night:
Just as we came across this art on the wall, the artist — Chris M. Kameck — happened to walk by (he was there cleaning up from the night before). He stopped and talked to our group for a few minutes, which was pretty neat.
Two more random views from Silo City:
Would I recommend this tour? Yes, to locals and visitors alike.
(Disclosure: I received complimentary tour passes for myself and a guest. I was not required to write a blog post; opinions are my own.)