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The Buffalo River: A Sense of Scale

This summer I have seen two incredible sights on the Buffalo River that capture the industrial image of the waters as well as the dawn of a new age for athletics. It was Joseph Verrastro who first captured a photograph of rowers of the river. That was back in early July – I had not yet seen any signs of rowers other than the temporary Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association’s Quonset hut erected at Dead Man’s Creek (seen here). Joseph’s photo was the first glimpse of the crewmembers on the water, which dramatically shows the powerful scale between the rowers and the surrounding industrial structures.

It was only a matter of weeks later that I happened upon the Herbert C. Jackson freighter navigating the same waters. The ship was under tow, being led slowly around the winding bends by a small tug. Where I was standing, at the Swannie House dock, I felt that I could almost reach out and touch the freighter… it was that close. As the freighter passed, the Michigan Street bridge began to lower. I’m not sure exactly how long it had been raised, but a few cars must have been backed up as the 660′ Jackson slid underneath. It was back in 2001 when the freighter first navigated the Buffalo River, giving it the distinction as the largest ship (tonnage) to ever pass through the waters (see boatnerd). Upon seeing this image, I immediately thought back to Joseph’s photo of the miniscule rowers (compared to the giant ship). What luck it is to experience these two images – both are equally powerful and humbling in the context of the grain silos.

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