"The boatmen (usually with their families) were a rough independent lot, forming a class within themselves, and intermarrying within their own group. They frequently fought amongst each other for any reason, be it racial slurs (real or perceived), precedence at a lock, or for exercise. They fought with lockkeepers over company rules, or even with the company for changes in toll rates. During winter when the boats were tied up, they often lived in their own communities away from others. One boat captain observed that on the canal, women and children were as good as the men, and if weren't for the children, the canal wouldn't run one day.
In April 2, 1831, Daniel Van Slyke reported: it is with great difficulty we have been able to preserve order among the boatmen, who in striving to push forward for a preference in passing the several locks are sometimes dis-posed to injure each other’s boats as a means of carrying their point. An unfortunate in-stance of this kind happened on Wednesday last at the locks on the 9th section. A strongly constructed boat ran her bow against a gondola loaded with flour, and so much injured her as to render it necessary to transship the load. But no damage was done to the cargo." ~ Wikipedia