Snubbing Boats

19th-Century Brakes

The story of The Erie Canal becomes more interesting the more it's told.  Enjoy each of our Classroom Collection video clips, and don't forget to scroll down this page for more images and information!

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Before there were engines, snubbing was used to stop moving boats.
Before engines, posts like these were about the only brakes available. Drivers would loop a rope around a post several times and gradually slow the boats to a stop before they coasted into boats ahead of them or worse - a lock gate. The posts shown in this image though, are there for a different purpose. Here the turn is so sharp that the long tow-rope would soon be pulling the boats directly into the bank. The posts keep the rope's pressure pulling in the right direction. Postcard image courtesy
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