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Buffalo River becoming more popular among rowers

WBFO News File Photo

For decades, the focus of rowing activity has been on the Black Rock Channel along the Niagara River. That has changed with the arrival of the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association on the relatively sheltered Buffalo River.

WBFO's Mike Desmond reports that's becoming an increasingly busy river for floating objects of all sizes.

The river was the heart of the city's Waterfront, still lined with concrete signs of the past and there are still giant lake freighters which make occasional trips to a couple of grain elevators and a cement plant. Most traffic though is much smaller, like kayaks and canoes. There are also rowing shells, sharing space with other boats.

Timon crew coach Mark Cassidy says the river is more sheltered than the Black Rock Channel but not completely.

"You get enough of an upsurge in the water that it creates problems for the oars getting in and out of the water so it ends being a little bit tougher when the winds kick up around 15 miles an hour," says Cassidy. "It's even worse of course out in the lake in the Black Rock Channel, but in the Buffalo River we're very fortunate that it's protected waterway so for the most part we'll get on the water sooner than almost anybody out there."

There are also rivalries since some Scholastic crews formerly rowed out of the historic West Side Rowing Club. The new club means there is more room for new crews and Cassidy hopes that will happen. It's already happening for some, with Saint Mary's of Lancaster's woman's team into its first weeks moving up and down the Buffalo River.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.