Bicentennial Rides

2017 not only marks the 200th anniversary of Erie Canal construction. It’s also the 200th birthday of the bicycle, invented in Germany. Celebrate both by cycling these bicentennial routes on the Erie Canalway Trail:

  • Cycle from Rome to Syracuse in the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park. Start in Rome and you’ll be at ground zero for canal construction. Dignitaries turned the first shovel of soil in Rome on July 4, 1817. Why Rome? To ensure early success, workers started first on the easiest, most level section. Canal surveyors laid out the “Long Level” extending in both directions from Rome. This 66-mile section, from Frankfort in the east to the outskirts of Syracuse to the west, was completed without a single lock. You’ll see a number of aqueducts and bridges as you ride along the old canal—and it will be just as level for cycling as it was for canal construction 200 years ago.
  • Cycle in the Capital Region and visit Cohoes Falls. The steep climb out of the Hudson Valley around Cohoes Falls at the eastern end of the canal was one of the biggest obstacles to canal construction. Engineers designed 18 locks in Cohoes to climb 165 feet of elevation and circumvent this barrier to westward navigation. View the 75-foot cataract from Falls View Park and look for the remains of the stone locks that operated here in the 1800s adjacent to the parking area for the park. Follow the trail west for a scenic ride along the Mohawk River/Erie Canal.
  • Cycle from Lockport along the Erie Canal in Western New York. In June 1825 one of the final sections of the Erie Canal was completed in Lockport. The Lockport Flight of Five was a staircase of five locks that solved the challenge of helping boats climb the 60-foot Niagara Escarpment. Start your trip at the locks and visit the nearby Erie Canal Discovery Center, which showcases the building of the famous Flight of Five. Cycle east from Lockport; the trail is adjacent to the longest section of the canal that still follows its original path and retains its historic relationship to the communities and landscapes along its banks. You’ll discover historic Main Streets, lift bridges, farm fields, and 20th century locks alongside historic lock ruins, canal engineering marvels, and cobblestone and local sandstone buildings.
  • Go End-to-End. Cycle from Buffalo to Albany and, like thousands of canallers before you, connect Lake Erie with the Hudson River. When you do, you’ll get a sense of the Erie Canal’s impact as the longest artificial waterway and the greatest public works project in North America.The canal gave rise to villages, towns, and cities, opened the interior of North America to settlement, and put New York on the map as the Empire State.

There’s a lot to celebrate in 2017! Head to the Canalway Trail and let the fun begin!

Celebrations Begin for Erie Canal Bicentennial

You’re invited! This year marks the 200th anniversary of canal construction and exciting bicentennial events are on tap. You’ll find boat tours, bike rides, festivals, music, and family-friendly activities all year long. Here are a few of the special events taking place; find more at https://eriecanalway.org/explore/events

  • Glass Barge: The Corning Museum of Glass is sponsoring a special GlassBarge, a watercraft that will bringing the story of glassmaking as well as demonstrations to waterfront communities. The barge will visit Fairport Canal Days 6/2-4, Seneca Falls Canal Fest 7/7-9, and the World Canals Conference in Syracuse 9/24 and Baldwinsville 9/26-27.
    www.cmog.org
  • Journey Along the Erie Canal, Jun 28-July 7: A team of riders from Our Ability welcomes cyclists of all abilities to join them for a few hours or several days as they complete their fourth cross-state bike ride along the Erie Canal. Our Ability seeks employment and empowerment for people with disabilities.
    http://www.ourability.com/journey-along-the-erie-canal
  • Water Music, July 2-8: Albany Symphony Orchestra is embarking on a seven-day musical journey on the Erie Canal from Albany to Lockport, presenting seven free waterfront performances of new orchestral works and American favorites to celebrate the Bicentennial of the Erie Canal. Stops include: Albany, Schenectady, Amsterdam, Little Falls, Baldwinsville, Brockport, and Lockport. http://www.albanysymphony.com
  • Lois McClure Legacy Tour, July through October: The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s sailing canal boat Lois McClure will visit ports along the Champlain and Erie Canals. Along the way they will celebrate the vital role of “boatwood” trees such as white oak and white pine that have been essential for centuries in boatbuilding as well as in the forest ecosystem. The schooner will be one of the centerpiece vessels at the 2017 World Canals Conference in Syracuse in September. http://www.lcmm.org/our_fleet/lois_mcclure_schedule.htm
  • Bicentennial Celebration in Rome, July 22: The NYS Canal Corporation is planning an anniversary bash with boats, music, and festivities at Bellamy Harbor Park.
    www.canals.ny.gov
  • World Canals Conference, Syracuse, September 24-28: Events, tours, and presentations will showcase some of the most exciting activities on the world’s waterways. Centering on canals as agents of transformation, WCC2017 brings together hundreds of canal enthusiasts, professionals and scholars from around the world to discuss canals and inland waterways as a means to promote tourism, spur economic and community development, improve environmental quality, and exchange best practices on protection strategies for historic sites.
    www.wcc2017syracuse.com

200 Years on the Erie Canal

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2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of Erie Canal construction. A number of statewide and local celebrations to honor the legacy of the Erie Canal will take place throughout the year. Statewide planning efforts are underway, guided by an Erie Bicentennial Committee directed by the NYS Canal Corporation. Here’s a look at several things being planned:

  • Kickoff celebration in Rome commemorating the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Erie Canal that took place in July 1817;
  • Waterway Tours by the replica canal schooner Lois McClure operated by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, and orchestral tours by the Albany Symphony Orchestra and Syracuse Symphonia;
  • World Canals Conference in Syracuse, September 24-28, including major public events;
  • Erie Canal exhibit opening at the NYS Museum in Albany in the fall of 2017;
  • New York State grants offered by Canal Corporation and the NYS Council on the Arts, through Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council program, are being targeted for bicentennial-related investments and community programs. Awards will be announced in December.
  • Erie Canalway National Heritage Cooridor, in partnership with the NYS Canal Corporation, will target a portion of 2017 festival and event sponsorship funds for community events that celebrate the bicentennial. Watch for applications in January.

For more information, contact William Sweitzer at the NYS Canal Corporation at (518) 436-3055, William.Sweitzer@canals.ny.gov

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Photo courtesy of Dave Valvo

Open for Business: Wayne County Looks at Impact of Trail Tourism

PTNY and the NYS Canal Corporation hit the road in October, bringing Bicyclists Bring Business events to the Wayne County communities of Savannah and Newark.

The Evening Program

For the first time in 2016, the evening portion of Bicyclists Bring Business was offered as part of a larger program, a Nature-based Tourism Summit at the Montezuma Audubon Center in Savannah. Since the Canal Corridor offers such a range of recreational and cultural opportunities, it made sense to compliment the bikes bring business message and tips with presentations on birding, hunting, and fishing and the economic opportunities they present. The Montezuma Audubon Center was a great venue for this collaboration as the Montezuma complex boasts a range of recreational opportunities, including birding, boating, and hunting. A presentation from Montezuma’s Executive Director Chris Lajewski hinted at future cycling routes through the complex.

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Attendees came from across central and western New York, and included a mix of cyclists, birders, business owners, and representatives from local governments, Wayne County and relevant state agencies.

PTNY’s presentation, sprinkled heavily with cycling terminology and jargon, provided some background on cycling tourists, and the economic impact of the Erie Canalway Trail. Then all in attendance were asked to participate in a conceptual group ride to two of North America’s most developed trail systems, the Great Allegheny Passage and L’Petit Train du Nord. A quick spin through best practices for attracting and catering to cycling tourist followed.

Canal Corporation led the warm down phase of the cycling portion of the program, previewing the Canal Bicentennial celebration and the 2017 World Canals Conference.

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Of course, progress in Closing the Gaps in the Canalway Trail was a topic of discussion. Eastern Wayne County is home to one of the largest remaining gap sections. Ora Rothfus from Wayne County Planning & Economic Development walked those assembled through the trail alignment, both existing and proposed, as it moves through the County. Ora’s presentation showed that while there is much work to be done, Wayne County does not lack for stakeholder involvement or opportunities for trail connections.

Jim Eckler from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and Chris Kenyon from Wayne County tourism provided data and anecdotes about the significant impact that hunting and fishing have for local economies in Wayne County.

The Bike-a-Round

Wednesday’s chilly weather failed to put the brakes on the second component of Bicyclists Bring Business, the community Bike-a-Round. This year’s parcours was Newark, the largest city in Wayne County. A group of 10 riders spent about two hours on the trail and in the Village of Newark, looking for ways in which the community could better publicize existing amenities, attractions, and services as well as suggesting additional steps that would better serve trail tourists. Mark Peake from the Village of Newark provided motorized SAG (Support and Guidance), meeting cyclists at many of the pre-determined discussion locations to point out steps Newark has taken and to listen to ideas from the group. After observing, discussing, and enjoying Newark, participants gathered for a lunch discussion and debrief at Parker’s Grille & Tap House.

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Thanks, and let’s keep talking!

Wayne County proved a great venue for this year’s B3 events. With the County recently completing new trail sections, and a working group meeting to close the remaining gaps, it was the right time to get together to discuss opportunities that a completed trail will bring, as well as the connections between the various recreational pursuits that bring visitors to Wayne County. With feedback from participants from both events, PTNY is currently preparing a summary report and recommendations for next steps.

Special thanks is in order for Chris Lajewski of the Montezuma Audubon Center for hosting the event, Ron Palladino from the Wayne County Business Council for organizing a great program, and Glenn Wallis from Trail Works for planning our Newark Bike-a-Round! We’d also like to thank Wayne County Tourism, Wayne County Planning & Economic Development, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Village of Newark, Wayne County Cornell Cooperative Extension, and SOAR (Strengthening Our Area Residents).

As always, the New York State Canal Corporation makes Bicyclists Bring Business possible.

Bicyclists and Birds Mean Business in Wayne County

2016 Bicyclists Bring Business Events Scheduled for Wayne County

Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation will be bringing Bicyclists Bring Business events to Wayne County in October 2016, with an evening presentation in Savannah on October 25, and everyone’s favorite bike-a-round the next day, October 26, in Newark.

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Cyclists gather before beginning a community bike-a-round as part of the 2015 Bicyclists Bring Business in Schenectady.

For the first time, in 2016, the evening presentation portion of Bicyclists Bring Business will be offered as part of a larger program, a Nature-based Tourism Summit at the Montezuma Audubon Center. Since the Canal Corridor offers such a range of recreational and cultural opportunities, this year, we’re happy to discuss how both bicyclists and birds bring business to Canalway Trail communities. Of course, Wayne County is the perfect venue for this year’s event, with the County completing new trail sections in recent years and a working group meeting regularly to close existing trail gaps.

As a follow up to the evening presentation, we invite you to join us for a community Bike-a-Round hosted by a local trail advocacy group, Trailworks, at 10:00 AM, Wednesday, October 26 in the Village of Newark. Bring your bike and meet us in the parking lot of the Newark Garden Hotel (125 N. Main Street, Newark), alongside the Erie Canalway Trail. We’ll ride through Newark and on several miles of the Erie Canalway Trail to experience Wayne County and the connections to nearby communities from the perspective of a cycling tourist. Afterward, we will discuss the results of our Bike-a-Round discovery tour during lunch at a local restaurant.

Cyclists take a break during the Cycle the Erie Canal bike tour at the historic Hotchkiss Building in Lyons, Wayne County.

Cyclists take a break during the Cycle the Erie Canal bike tour at the historic Hotchkiss Building in Lyons, Wayne County.

Join us in October to hear more about what’s happening in Wayne County and across the Canalway Trail and to get involved!

Visit the Bicyclists Bring Business page on PTNY’s website or send an email to B3roundtable@ptny.org to register for the roundtable and/or the bike-a-round.

 

SAVANNAH ROUNDTABLE

Wayne County Nature-based Tourism SummitMontezuma Audubon Center

2295 State Route 89, Savannah

Tuesday, October 25, 5 PM

 

NEWARK BIKE-A-ROUND

Meet at Newark Garden Hotel

125 N. Main St., Newark

Wednesday, October 26, 10 AM

Followed by discussion and lunch

 

Weekly Rides Help Cyclists Get in the Habit

Tuesday is the day to be out on the Erie Canalway Trail in the Albany and Syracuse areas, with organized group rides in both areas providing fun introductions to social cycling.

Across the Canalway Trail System, local cyclists and cycling groups use the trail for outings of varied length and intensity. Some cyclists are just out to enjoy the view, while others are looking to burn calories or train for an event such as a century ride or self-supported bike tour. Whatever your style, there’s plenty of room for whatever type of cycling you’d like to do on the Erie Canalway Trail – with nearly 300 miles of off-road route and a variety of trail surfaces. There’s also great groups and events that can help introduce you to trail riding, including the two groups rides profiled below.

Tuesdays on the Towpath – Madison & Oneida County

Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum (CLCBM) and Syracuse Bicycles Shop teamed up to host a spring/summer ride series in 2012. Since then, their creation, Tuesdays on the Towpath, has grown to include new ride options and new partners.

The Tuesday events are guided rides, generally on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. They use either the Old Erie Canal State Park section of the Erie Canalway Trail (ECT), on roads that follow the route of the Old Erie Canal through downtown Syracuse and the Inner Harbor,  or on trails connected to the ECT including the Oneida Rail Trail. Most rides are between 8 and 10 miles, with stops along the way to talk about Canal features or historic sites. The Tuesday rides attract recreational riders of all ages and abilities, and on all types of bikes. When possible, local museums keep special hours for rides. After the rides, the group heads to local establishments to “test” the local food and craft beverages.IMG_2600

According to CLCBM Executive Director Chris O’Neill, the ride series has been a great success. She points to two main reasons: it serves the recreational rider, an under-served market, and provides a fun link between local cultural heritage, outdoor recreation, and area bike shops. Over the years, Tuesdays on the Towpath has drawn support from Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, Parks & Trails New York, Syracuse Bicycles Shop, and Mello Velo Bike Shop. An ongoing partnership with the Erie Canal Museum provides historical credibility. Beginning in 2014, rides became a partnership with Old Erie Canal Community Working Group (OECCWG), with communities and organizations alternating as hosts and guides for the weekly rides.

Partners for the Tuesday rides have even introduced an overnight tour on the Canalway Trail, Tour the Towpath.

It’s historic. It’s scenic. It’s social. So, if you’re in the Syracuse area on a Tuesday, don’t miss this great weekly ride. More information from Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum.

Towpath Tuesdays –  Capital Region

Aerial view3Another great, trail-focused ride series is hosted by Bike Barn, in Cohoes, north of Albany. Their weekly ride also happens to be on a Tuesday.

“Tow Path Tuesdays” are organized group rides, led by Bike Barn staff and other experienced cyclists, that follow one of three different routes. Bike Barn classifies these rides as “entry level,” meaning that cyclists of all abilities are welcome, as are all types of bicycles – hybrid, mountain, road, etc. Each route contains some street riding, but the focus is on multi-use paths including the Erie Canalway Trail.

Bike Barn’s tried-and-true Watervliet to Albany route is entirely on trail, with cyclists taking in great views of the Hudson River and the Albany skyline. It’s a great option, and a great way to meet other trail enthusiasts in the Capital Region.

The group generally meets at the Van Schaick Pond parking lot in Cohoes, and the ride begins at 6:00 PM sharp. More information is available on Bike Barn’s Meetup page, or by calling (518) 238-BIKE.

Get in the habit this spring and summer by finding an organized ride that suites your style.

 

Tuesdays on the Towpath gets rolling May 12

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Spring means the beginning of peak bicycle riding season along the Erie Canalway Trail. From May through August, one way to enjoy the trail in Central New York is to join other riders after work for Tuesdays on the Towpath.

Held the second and fourth Tuesday from May 12 to August 25 at 6:00 p.m., the free eight-ride series features 10-mile guided bike rides along different sections of trail in Old Erie Canal State Park east of Syracuse, followed by the opportunity for dinner and drinks at a nearby restaurant. Bike rentals are available by calling the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum.

The rides are both a great way to get out and enjoy the trail after work and demonstrate the trail’s economic impact on nearby businesses. Hosted by local canal-related museums and organizations, the series of social rides kicks off on May 12 in Oneida at Oneida Commons. If you can’t make the first ride, don’t worry, additional rides are scheduled.