Reimaging the Canal’s Next 200 Years

Reimagine the Canals Competition Seeks Ideas for the Canal’s Next 200 Years logo-canals

New York’s Canal System has been the source of many celebrations recently. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Barge Canal, the name by which the Canal System—which includes the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca and Champlain canals–was formerly known by. Last year, marked the bicentennial of the start of the Erie Canal’s construction. And given that the Canal was not completed until 1825, there will be a lot more to celebrate in the years to come.

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But the Erie Canal is not a historic relic. It remains a vital waterway for New York State. But how to make it relevant for current and future generations?  Enter New York Power Authority President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. NYPA assumed operating control of the canals last year. Quiniones, who has a national reputation as a leading innovator in the electric utility industry, conceived of the $2.5 million Reimagine the Canals Competition, which seeks to reward the best ideas to leverage the canals to promote economic development and enable them to become an engine for tourism and recreation throughout the 524-mile canal corridor.img_3647

 

The response was overwhelming. After the competition was unveiled at the World Canals Conference in Syracuse last September, NYPA and the Canal Corporation received 145 entries from nine countries. An international panel of judges narrowed down the list of finalists to seven. All are intriguing in their own right, but two that might be of particular interest to PTNY members include one that would develop overnight accommodations for recreational users of the Canal System. Another envisions a multi-day race that would include a component for bikers and hikers. Entries are due in July. The winners will be announced in the early fall. For more information, go to www.canals.ny.gov/reimaginethecanals.

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Canalway Trail Provides Inspiration for Erie Canal House

The Erie Canal House in Canajoharie is recent addition to bike friendly lodging choices along the Erie Canalway Trail, however the B & B’s foundations lay deep in the heritage of the Canal and the future of the Canalway Trail as a recreational destination.

Located directly on the Canalway Trail in the village of Canajoharie, the Erie Canal House offers cyclists the exclusive use of the entire property for their stay. With 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, plus a furnished kitchen and laundry, it serves as a luxurious base for visitors who want to explore the beauty of the Mohawk Valley and the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor. The location also makes it convenient to visit historic sites along the NY State Path through History bike trail.

Built before 1855 as a barn for mules working on the Erie Canal, it was converted to a private home around 1905, when there was no longer a need for mules, or a barn. In 2015, the current owners began a historic restoration, uncovering and restoring the exterior while installing modern updates such as marble baths and solar panels.

Erie Canal House After Front Entrance FB Brochure Good

The owners, John and Michele McGlone, targeted cyclists traveling the ECT in designing the Erie Canal House and are proud of their Bike Friendly New York Certification from PTNY.  The Erie Canal House has a dedicated bike repair and service area, including wheel truing and professional mechanic stand, as well as a supply of spare parts and tools.

“We are one of three Bike Friendly-certified businesses in Canajoharie,” says John McGlone, “We’ve had cyclists traveling the ECT this year tell us that by being a bike friendly business we provide them with an extra level of assurance on their journey. We are very pleased that PTNY offers this program.”Erie Canal House Bike Room

Besides cyclists, the Erie Canal House will welcome paddlers enjoying the Mohawk River by offering pickup at the village boat launch and transfer of kayaks and equipment for overnight guests.

More information on the Erie Canal House, including availability can be found at www.eriecanalhouse.com.

Erie Canal House Air BNB comment

Check out the Erie Canal House and 79 other Bike Friendly New York businesses at ptny.org/bikefriendly.

 

New Report reveals that Canal Events and Tours Generate $1.5 Billion in Annual Economic Impact

A new study of the economic impact of events and tours in the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor calls attention to the power of tourism along New York State’s iconic canals. An estimated $1.5 billion annually is generated by events, boat tours, bicycle and paddle-sport rentals and historic site/museum tours along the Erie, Champlain, Owsego and Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Events and tours drew 3.3 million visitors in 2017.

“Not only are these events and recreational tours a fun way to experience what the canal system has to offer, they provide a significant return on investment for host communities,” said Bob Radliff, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. “In partnership with the National Park Service and the NYS Canal Corporation, we are proud to consistently support and promote many of these endeavors and are now pleased to see the impressive economic impact revealed in this report.”

Over the last 10 years, the number of events in the Canalway Corridor has increased dramatically to include concerts, arts festivals, cycling and paddling events, celebrations of local foods and beverages, and events that focus on history and heritage. According to the NYS Canal Corporation website, the 2017 calendar held more than 470 events.

The recent opening of the NYS Canal System also marks the 100th anniversary of the Erie Barge Canal in 1918. This year’s event highlights include: the 20th Anniversary of Cycle the Erie Canal bike tour, organized by Parks & Trails New York, and the cross canal journey of the Corning Museum of Glass GlassBarge, traveling with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s canal schooner Lois McClure.

Read the full Canal Event Analysis and Visitor Research Study here.

The overall impact of the NYS Canal System measured in this report is impressive and marks the most recent look at the value this historic waterway provides to the more than 200 communities located along the corridor. In 2014, Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation released an economic impact study of the Erie Canalway Trail that revealed that the 1.6 million annual visits to the trail generate an economic impact of more than $250 million. 

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor spans 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York, encompassing the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain canals and their historic alignments, as well as more than 230 canal communities. Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission and the Erie Canalway Heritage Fund work in partnership to preserve our extraordinary heritage, to promote the Corridor as a world class tourism destination, and to foster vibrant communities connected by the waterway.

Summer Fun on the NYS Canal System

2017 marks the Erie Canal bicentennial! Celebrate one of the United States national treasures and attend one of the many events happening across New York State.

 

 

The World Canals Conference

 

September 24-28, 2017

This five day world class conference in Syracuse, NY will celebrate the bicentennial of the Erie Canal as well as hold discussions about the operation and maintenance of new and historic canals, canals within larger landscapes, environmental issues, economic and community revitalization, navigation, tourism, recreation, historic preservation and interpretation. This conference requires registration.

 

Tour the Towpath

September 23 & 24, 2017

The Tour the Towpath is a two-day, supported bike ride along the world famous Erie Canal! It begins in Rome, NY and follows the Old Erie Canal Towpath trail for 36 miles to DeWitt, NY with an option to bike to the Inner Harbor in

Syracuse (additional 10 miles). There are lots of organized and spontaneous things to discover along the way!

With one and two-day options, Tour the Towpath is a family friendly event and open to cyclists of all abilities. Riders will receive a map and guide to the many attractions, museums, restaurants, shops, and historic sites that they can explore in the communities that the route encounters on the way from Rome to Syracuse. All participants end at the World Canal Conference Kick-off Celebration at the Inner Harbor in Syracuse. For more information go to www.tourthetowpath.com.


Locktoberfest 2017

Saturday, September 30, 2017, 9 AM to 5 PM

Visit Lockport for a family-friendly event that celebrate farms, food, crafts, and the community. There will be live music including Jamie Holka, The Bergholz German Band, Tom Keefer and Celtic Cross, and The Skiffle Minsterels. Locktoberfest is organized by Lockport Main Street. More information at locktoberfest.org or (716) 434-0212.

Hittin’ the Trail

2017 Bicyclists Bring Business Events Head to Utica

Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Canal Corporation hit the trail to Utica for the annual “Bicyclists Bring Business: Canalway Trail Tourism for Your Downtown!” events. The evening program and community bike ride generated healthy discussion and excitement about how Utica, Oneida County, and the Mohawk Valley can further develop as cycling destinations.

This year’s events were sponsored by the City of Utica, Oneida County Tourism, Oneida County Health Department, and Utica Bike Rescue, Homegrown Bicycle Adventures, and Mohawk Valley GIS.

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The venue for Tuesday’s Evening Roundtable was thINCubator (326 Broad Street, Utica), a shared work space that demonstrates that innovation and creativity are alive and well. After light refreshments, the evening’s presentations provided an update Utica’s growing urban cycling network and future connections to the Empire State Trail, and some background on bicycle tourism on the Erie Canalway Trail. The heart of the program, as always, was robust discussion and a bringing together of various public agencies and resident groups around issues related to the bike/ped network.

All Attendees received a copy of the handbook, Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide to Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities.

On Wednesday, as a follow-up to the presentation, staff from Utica Bike Rescue led a Community Bike-a-Round, a relaxed ride on Utica’s stretch of the Erie Canalway Trail and through several of Utica’s vibrant downtown neighborhoods.  Along the way, the group was able to see new recreational loop routes from the perspective of a cycling tourist. We’ll make stops to discuss connection to local points of interest and opportunities for improved infrastructure, programming, and promotion. After the ride, the group talked over what they saw over lunch at Aqua Vino.

Despite a great evening event and a

wonderful ride that reinforced Utica’s beauty, history, and great potential as a cycling destination, much work remains. However, all agreed that the enthusiasm generated and connections made at this week’s events will provide a boost to local efforts.

Media Coverage

Coverage of the evening event is available here, and bike around clips here.

Economic Impact of the Canalway Trail

According to a 2014 study, the Erie Canalway Trail experiences more than 1.58 million visits per year, and spending by ECT visitors generates approximately $253 million in annual economic impact. Oneida County’s 25 miles of existing Canalway Trail feature scenic views of the Mohawk River and connect the cities of Rome and Utica to the statewide trail network. With the County’s remaining gap section scheduled to be closed by 2020 as part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail vision, and the region’s unique combination of big-city amenities and access to the Mohawk Valley and Southern Adirondacks, Utica is well positioned to become a premier destination for cycling tourists and other recreationalists.

Bicyclists Bring Business, or B3, is presented in one Canalway Trail community each year by Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation. Communities interested in hosting B3 should email b3roundtable@ptny.org.

Thanks!

Thanks to all the great event sponsors and partners in Utica that made this year’s event memorable and successful!

Great Flats Brewing: Serving Schenectady’s Bike Scene

Great Flats Brewing makes great beer, and as a meeting point for Schenectady’s growing cycling scene. And it’s all just blocks from the Canalway Trail!

Great Flats Brewing opened in March, 2017. Using ingredients grown in New York State, they serve fresh beer, cider, and wine.

Great Flats organized a clean up event as part of the 2017 Canal Clean Sweep, and they have recently become certified as a Bike Friendly New York business. “We like biking ourselves. Also, beer and biking go well together.”

Every Sunday,  Bike Old Dorp and Great Flats Brewing invite cyclists to go out for a night ride, and to join them for a beer afterwards.

Being close to the trail means lots of business. “It’s a big open space for people to hangout and rest, while drinking a beer or soda. It’s a great place to start a ride or take a break.”

Great Flats occupies a prime, trailside location in Schenectady – just blocks from the Erie Canalway Trail, know locally as the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail. They are also a quarter mile from the Electric City Bike Rescue and three miles from Plaine and Son Bike Shop.

Check out their website for more information on their beer list and new flavor releases.

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