Canoeing the Distance | News, Sports, Jobs


As he sailed up the Allegheny River in mid-2021 with his 16ft red Old Town Penobscot canoe, Neal Moore might have passed our cabin eight miles north of Tidioute.

If I had been in the place at the time, I might have waved to him as he passed, or even could have exchanged jokes with him if I had met him while I was on the river in my own canoe.

If either had been the case, I would have been mystified by the sight of a weathered 50 year old man heading upstream in a loaded dinghy that probably also looked weathered.

But I’m not sure exactly how Moore got to Lake Erie from the Allegheny and he could have left the river well south of our cabin as he continued his journey to New York.

He didn’t answer a question about how he traveled from the river to the lake, which I asked him on his website.

When he ascended the Allegheny from the Ohio River, Moore, as Corey Kilganon recently revealed in The New York Times, was on the final stages of an epic nearly two-year journey that he began on Columbia River in Oregon on February 9, 2020, during which it traveled 7,500 miles.

An average travel day for him was 20 miles.

Although he is several years younger than me, his trip has always impressed me immensely, as a two mile canoe trip upstream from our cabin (which involves a bit of wading and canoe pulling) and back downstream leaves me rather weary.

Moore completed his journey to the Statue of Liberty in New York City on December 14. In 22 months he had canoeed 7,500 miles and visited 22 states.

He spent a month in Demopolis, Alabama, on the Tombigbee River due to flooding and tornadoes.

He camped along the shores and ate in restaurants in towns where he passed when he could.

After leaving Colombia, he paddled the Snake River for five days. He then traveled through Idaho and Montana to the watershed that he crossed using a set of removable wheels he carried to haul the canoe along the road when the waterways did. were not connecting or were found to be non-navigable.

He then traveled down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers to the Gulf of Mexico, paddled east along the Gulf shore (where his canoe was pushed by a shark), and in early 2021 he returned to the North. He traveled up several rivers to Ohio before entering the Allegheny in Pittsburgh.

His long journey on the Allegheny must have been arduous.

This part of his journey feels like a monumental challenge in itself, and I haven’t heard anyone make this upstream passage since the days of the early explorers.

Once he entered Lake Erie, the choppy waters capsized him once as he headed for the Erie Canal in Buffalo.

He crossed New York State to the Hudson River at Albany on the Canal, but was forced to pull the canoe along the canal during part of his trip through the state when the canal was temporarily closed (canal locks would not have worked.)

My canoe trips over the years have been many and varied, but I never dreamed of attempting anything on the scale of Moore’s trek.

I paddled the Allegheny through various segments of the Kinzua Dam to Tionesta, and enjoy frequent short jaunts up and down (river conditions permitting) from our cabin in Althom.

My wife, Judith, has been my companion on many of these trips, but age now prevents her from canoeing, as it is mine.

I also enjoyed the canoe trips in the Erie area.

One of my favorites was hitting the marina at Presque Isle State Park and then entering the park’s lagoons, following these scenic waterways to Misery Bay. There I enter Presque Isle Bay, then paddle west along the park shore to the marina.

I also paddled along the shore of Lake Erie from the mouth of Walnut Creek to the first beach in the park. (I did this trip on a choppy lake day. I would like to try it again on a very calm day, paddling near the scenic beach with its many cabins.)

I rowed (and rowed) my canoe around the state park once, entering the bay at the park’s eastern tip through the navigation channel.

However, it rained a lot during the last half of this trip, and I often had to stop along the shore to empty the canoe by partially overturning it.

This ordeal turned out to be too hard on my physical system, and I then had a low fever for a few days as my body apparently battled a respiratory infection.

I should have checked the weather before this trip!

Robert Stanger has lived seasonally for over 40 years along the Allegheny River and has stories to tell about it.

The latest news today and more in your inbox


Comments are closed.