Author Topic: The Original Erie Canal - National Treasure or New York State Disgrace?  (Read 40 times)

Doug K

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It's a very good question, and one that most people would say should be a "national treasure". Of course those same people don't lift a finger to prove it... albeit with plenty of opportunity with these regular Canal Clean Sweep events.

After moving from the tranquility of a nicely groomed NYS Empire Trail in my old backyard, and having easy access to the Erie Canal, that's only filled the half year in the "60 mile pool" from Lockport to Rochester, I have changed my mind... it's really a New York State disgrace, especially the original version that's seen in many places.


Why? Because many people in central New York have to see this Erie Canal each day... this in a US Parks National Heritage site

Here's the view of the ORIGINAL Erie Canal in Montezuma...between Cayuga & Port Byron. It was abandoned in the name of "progress" for the NYS Canal System.

And here's another view of the historic Erie Canal, and the actual towpath where mules named Sal worked pulling barges. This one in Centerport, locate between Port Byron & Weedsport. This section was also abandoned, along with the communities around here, by a NYS Canal enlargement that was never needed, never fully utilized and has only created long-lasting, annual FLOOD issues in the Seneca River Basin.

Note the stone wall on the south side of the almost empty prism. Just a small stream of water remains inside.

And a view of the nice signage along this towpath... too bad the Erie Canal itself is overgrown, and littered with trash.

I have covered a few other abandoned sections of the Old Erie Canal, sections that are along more "major" routes seem to get way more attention than those on the backroads that locals travel here. It's a series of posts titled " In Search of the Real Erie Canal

Where's the NYS Canal Corporation when it comes to taking care of their "past" Erie Canal sins?

Why haven't they helped these communities by sprucing up these original sections of the canal and showing how vastly different the old version was to the new?

Why isn't the Canal Clean Sweep program addressing these sections that are almost being lost to time?

And where are all those concerned "environmentalist" on social media, those who are out protesting the damage being caused by normal earthen embankment maintenance? They sit by idly, saying how they long for days of mules named Sal pulling barges. Why aren't they out here adopting these HISTORICAL sections of the original canal system?

Finally, where is the US Government in all of this?

Shouldn't the folks who are watching over the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor (ECNHC) find a way to FUND local municipalities efforts in Montezuma, Port Byron and Centerport to clean up these original canal prism sections? The ECNHC is a close to a national park as we have in this area, what would they say if Yosemite was as poorly managed as the Erie Canal Park is?

It's a DISGRACE to New York, and shows a total lack of ownership on their part to leave this history to eventual decay.

The original Erie Canal was built with the blood, seat & tears of local residents, who were PAID by CONTRACT to work digging a ditch... for the benefit of NY and the entire country.

Yes, workers who built the Original Canal were PAID for each section they built, some sections only as long as a few thousand feet. Just needed to prove you could do the work

You would think that NY State or the Federal Government would recognize that IF that idea worked 200 years ago to build the Erie, just maybe it will work to restore it to the same way it was when they closed these sections.

Maybe it's time for fresh ideas in the NYS Canal Corporation... and it starts with those closest to the issues at hand.

Maybe it's time for NY Residents to demand MORE from the New York State Canal Corporation and it's parent NY Power?

« Last Edit: May 02, 2023, 11:23:22 am by Doug K »

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Michael Caswell

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The same argument could be applied to The Oxbow in Fairport.

The original canal is STILL there. As you walk from Erie Crescent towards Old Post Road, if you look carefully to your left, you can see the depression of the old canal, nestled along the side of Minerva Deland School playing field.

The original pub is still there, being renovated by its new owners. You can read more about this here

It wouldn't take much to clean out the brush and trees and open up the canal to the main channel. While they were at it, the silt that has built up between the island and Erie Crescent houses could be removed and they could once more enjoy their 'waterfront' properties once more.

« Last Edit: May 11, 2023, 07:51:11 am by Doug K »