Author Topic: A Search for the Erie Canal of Yesterday... guess what we found?  (Read 111 times)

Doug K

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As many may have seen, there's been a noted lull in posting on our Forum...very busy times at the ECNA these days.

We are still waiting on word when & where the next Erie Canal Embankment clearing will take place, now that the EEIP program has finished the Embankment Manual and State Environmental Review. Long overdue.

Our contact with the Canal Corporation has come to an end, seems we don't see eye to eye on what matters most to Erie Canal Neighbors.

We believe that public "safety related" projects should be a PRIORITY and run without delay... no excuses, which is all the Canal Corporation has these days... excuses.

The NYS Canal Conglomerate, believe that appeasing social media dissent should be first on the list, before fixing unsafe, high hazard, aging earthen dams.

The NYPA, are negligent dam owners, and we have told them it's no longer acceptable to leave Erie Neighbors at risk of flood, because a few misguided individuals on Facebook can't understand the problems with canal dams, the processes to remedy problems & overall NY State Dam Safety guidelines.

As for my own absence, my wife & I have have moved away from the Erie Canal channel, away from living in a neighborhood of Facebook members who deny reality, and away from living below an 18' tall Canal Embankment Dam.

We don't talk about "trees" anymore, unless it's to mention the eagles perched in them.

And we don't worry about the minks, muskrats, and beavers living along the waterway, as there are no unsafe earthen dams being left to collapse from "missed maintenance & inspection".

We now are able to look DOWN at the water, from our new home, situated along a "non-canal" portion of the Seneca River.

The people living around here are NORMAL, they support any work to make the Erie Canal safe, and when they heard I was from Rochester, they asked if I knew any of those "idiots" trying to stop the repair of the Erie Canal, those "social misfits on social media" as they put it. They were glad to hear I was "on the right side" of Erie Canal Integrity

In our NEW neighborhood, the main Erie Canal channel is about 1 mile or so away, part of the Seneca River cut, but even more fascinating, we are now part of several Towns & Villages that were "victims" of the new & wonderful NYS Barge Canal, built in 1905-1926.

Our mail goes to Port Byron, home of the Erie Canal Museum at the Samuel Center for Erie Canal History

And we frequent the Village of Weedsport a bit, for stores, restaurants and banking. Cooks Restaurant is a landmark, along with Arnolds, and the closest larger bank is in Weedsport, along with ACE hardware.

If you didn't know it, BOTH of these original Erie Canal villages were "bypassed" when the last Erie Canal enlargement occurred and the result was the Erie/Barge Canal of today. These are two of many original Erie villages that were suddenly not part of the Barge Canal update, as they were too far away from the rivers that the Canal Corporation wanted to utilize for canal traffic. Sadly that expected Erie Canal traffic, and these forgotten villages would never recover.

Left behind from that Erie Canal "progress" are the remnants of two villages, who have lost population & vital resources, when they became "ports without a canal".

But also left behind was the ORIGINAL Erie Canal, you know the one... mule named Sal, blah blah blah low bridge... THAT canal!

It's all over this area living in obscurity next to roads like East Dock Street, West Dock, Canal & River streets. As you can see by the picture below the original canal is mainly a neglected ditch in many places, overgrown and almost indistinguishable except for the road signs to point it out. This section is right in the Village, behind a grocery store named Ed & Jeans Market at the end of East Dock St.

Looks like a national treasure huh?

Sadly the history of the Erie Canal isn't all charming, especially when you see how removing a village from Erie Canal "Porthood" would be so devastating years later. But I guess we chalk that up to "progress", but not progress for all.

But do not despair, there is a happy story here. In fact there is actually a working section of the original Erie Canal that runs between Port Byron & Weedsport... and it's semi-maintained. It also has a rich history, as evident by the historic plaques & signage.

Note the sign about LEASHING your dogs on the Empire Trail... required in NYS, by the Canal Corporation, and contrary to what some local Facebook groups have stated. Leash you pet please, if you use the Empire Trail system, there is no truth that "dogs on voice command" are ok to roam free with their owners along the canal trailway. Just another FFF - Facebook Fake Fact

Here's a nice view of the old Erie as it moves east to Weedsport, it's about 2-3 miles until the trail hits the Centerpoint Aqueduct, the water feeding this two mile section of original Erie Canal comes from Cold Brook, at the Aqueduct.

As you can see it's the "narrow" version of the Erie, maybe only 40' wide, might be 60 feet. It was frozen over still, and the amazing part, you can walk right to the middle of the channel and take a nice photo like the one below.

But it's also the western end of the Erie, for this old section. A four foot tall embankment has sealed off the end of the waterway, and the water level in the channel is maintained at the Weedsport Aqueduct end with a spillway.

And finally, this may be the ONLY spot on the entire Erie Canal system, that ANYONE can go and have a picnic lunch while sitting on the BOTTOM of the Erie Canal. There is a park in Port Byron, Schasel Park, where the old Erie Canal was turned into a newer, park, playground & picnic area. If you look at the picture below you can see the two sides of the canal prism, only about four to five feet high, on either side of the park. towpath extends along the right side of the park.

This is our new neighborhood, and our new neighbors enjoy both a rich history of the Erie Canal of bygone days along with the new Barge Canal waterway that centers on the many rivers, streams and creeks throughout central NY.

And trees are NOT the number one problem along the NYS Canal System here, though many residents welcome the clearing of trees, especially those that fall into the waterway. The bigger issue here is canal FLOODING, as this area is the confluence of three Finger Lakes, and their outlet streams, along with the Seneca, Cayuga, and Oswego Rivers. It is not uncommon to see the Erie Canal / Seneca River rise by a foot or more overnight, then drop 6-8 inches almost as quickly as it filled.

An that is the lesson for today folks... it's a different Erie Canal, depending on where you live. The issues seen by Erie Neighbors could be unsafe embankments, covered with invasive wood vegetation, or it could be a section of canal that sees millions of gallons of water rising and falling with the slightest precipitation, literally hundreds of miles away.

But one common thread winds through these neighborhoods, the people most affected by Erie Canal Extremes want a SAFE & SUSTAINABLE canal system, and the key word is safe.

By the way: there is no tolerance for anyone, or any group, who would deny obvious safety issues along the Erie waterway, like too much water, and too many trees, both falling into a canal system that is better off without them. Think about it... and if you get a chance, come to Port Byron and see the REAL ERIE CANAL.

Additional Links:


GOOGLE MAP LOCATION: Centerpoint Aqueduct
« Last Edit: March 01, 2023, 08:02:31 am by Doug K »

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Doug K

  • ECNA Co-Founder
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1103
  • Choosing to Live FREE of Social Media Influences
  • Location: Port Byron NY
    • ECNA US Website
I finally had a chance (in between snow storms) to visit the other end of that original Erie Canal channel we left in Port Byron at Schasel Park.

It's another nice Canal park just outside the west limit of Weedsport Village, a place called Aqueduct Park or Centerpointe Aqueduct, depending on what Town website you visit. The park is a look at old time engineering solutions when the Erie Canal travelled "overhead" of many streams & rivers it crossed on it's journey East to West.

It's a very nice place to visit, and the stretch of towpath from Port Byron, to Centerpointe is a leisurely 2.2 mile walk or ride. And it's one of the few remaining places that shows just how far the NYS Erie/Barge Canal System has come in 200 years. It's very narrow and very shallow, but perhaps that's what made the Erie Canal so charming way back when.,-76.5773276,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m6!3m5!1s0x89d753a3860675b1:0x97e45783d0792309!8m2!3d43.0428854!4d-76.5773276!16s%2Fg%2F11gfdyh7m1

Here's a final picture of the Weedsport end of that 1860s version of the erie Canal, well worth the visit out to Weedsport to see this original aqueduct stonework.

« Last Edit: March 07, 2023, 07:05:20 am by Doug K »