Not Your Average Bike Path

News from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

As frequent riders and End-to-Enders know, the Erie Canalway Trail is not your average bike path. Extending from Buffalo to Albany, the trail’s course alongside the historic Erie Canal makes cycling here truly unique. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this living waterway adds distinctive flavor in the form of canal structures like locks and lift bridges, working tugs and other vessels, friendly vacationers in boats of all stripes, and canal communities that are intriguing and fun cycling destinations.

While you’re here—or before you come—visit the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor’s new website. Several special galleries will help you to learn about canal structures and vessels that you’ll see when cycling. You can view the website easily on your phone, tablet or computer, so you’ll find the answers to your canal questions in your pocket or bike bag when riding.

Here are a few of our favorite things to see while cycling the Erie Canalway Trail. Find more at

Watch for the powerful tugs Gov. Roosevelt and Gov. Cleveland. Both were built in 1928 as icebreaking tugs. You may also see tugs Syracuse, Pittsford, Seneca, and Lockport, or one of the smaller, but still mighty Tender Tugs at work.

04_LiftBridge_Brockport_JM09Lift Bridges

Built between 1905 and 1918, sixteen lift bridges still carry traffic over the Erie Canal in western New York. Approaching canal boats alert bridge operators with three horn blasts. The operator stops traffic on the roadway and raises the deck of the bridge 15 feet into the air to give clearance for passing boats and barges.

07_HistoricLockE56_Lyons_MarkDeCracker1800s Lock

Many of the 83 locks built on the Erie Canal in the 1800s can still be seen today. Some lie alongside today’s locks, while others are visible from the Erie Canalway Trail. These stone-walled locks were replaced by much larger and fewer concrete structures between 1905 and 1918.

Canal Operator12_Lock3_LockTender

Not a structure, but key to making the canal system work, lock and lift bridge operators carry on a long and proud tradition of ensuring that canal structures look and run well. They operate the locks for boaters, maintain equipment, keep records of the number and types of boats passing through the system, and ensure safe passage for thousands of boaters each year. Most will be happy to answer your questions about how things work.


Register now for New York State Canal Conference

Sunday, September 21 – Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Don’t miss three days of all things canal and Canalway Trail-related – presentations, seminars, field visits , social activities, and networking events. Register now for the 2014 New York Canal Conference to be held in Geneva September 21 – 23 at the head of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal and trail on the northern shore of Seneca Lake.

The conference, which is hosted by the Canal Society of New York State, brings together national, state and local government officials, community leaders, developers, project coordinators, canal enthusiasts and providers of goods and services needed by those who use and enjoy the canal. This year’s conference, “In Harmony With Nature, People & Products: The Finger Lakes Canal System,” has a full program of interest to community leaders and canal enthusiasts.  Presentations will cover topics of interest to trail advocates such as funding, water trails, new Canalway Trail developments, heritage and eco-tourism, and economic development.  The Canalway Trail Tender Award will also be presented at a luncheon on September 23.

The New York State Conference is held every other year to develop a statewide network of volunteers and professionals who are dedicated to the revitalization of canal communities located within the Canal Corridor, promote the success stories and share organizational strategies of communities that have or are attempting to implement canal-related planning initiatives, and recognize the outstanding individuals who have contributed significantly to the promotion and enhancement of the New York State Canal System.

The  first Canal Conference was organized by a group of volunteers in Lockport in 1996. Subsequently, the organizing committee was expanded to include representatives from throughout the canal system. After successful collaboration in 2000 for the World Canal Conference, the Canal Conference Planning Committee became a formal part of the Canal Society of New York State.

New directory points the way to canal corridor sites


There’s a lot to be said for online guides and apps, but sometimes it’s nice to have an old fashioned hard copy brochure in hand – or in your bike bag or glove compartment– to help you find your way to interesting places. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor has produced a new directory of canal sites and museums to introduce you to more than 45 sites all along the canal system.

Each site showcases a different part of the canal’s legacy—from its famous locks and low bridges, to its transformation of New York State, to the prominent role it continues to play in shaping communities along its shores. The directory also includes a large map to show the location of each site and information about things to see and do along the canal.

Pick up a copy at numerous canal sites and visitor centers along the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca, and Champlain Canals or by contacting Erie Canalway at or (518) 237-7000.

For those who prefer an electronic option, Erie Canalway also has a trip planning section on its website: www.eriecanalway/explore.

Schenectady County linking the Canalway Trail to neighborhoods

1450078_10201303724729111_1326189354_nMore people than ever will soon have safe, easy access to the Erie Canalway Trail (ECT) in Schenectady County thanks to federal funding from the Capital District Transportation Committee. In the town of Niskayuna, two new multi-use spur trails will be constructed to safely connect the ECT with hundreds of households and a popular soccer complex.

Especially welcome will be the additional installation of safer access control devices at trailheads in the town of Rotterdam, replacing  the outdated bollards and gates originally used to stop vehicles from entering the trail. The Friends of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Hike Trail have long advocated for this change.

The trail enhancements represent about $500,000 of the $4.6 million in grant funding that Schenectady County was awarded from the Capital District Transportation Committee to improve its road, trail, and sidewalk network.