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Posts Tagged ‘Erie Canal’

Click here to view the 2008 Erie Canal Photo Contest winners.

Then click on More – after 2008 Photo Contest Winners

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fall foliageHere, according to Parks and Trails New York, are 10 terrific trails for enjoying Fall foliage:

http://www.ptny.org/pdfs/greenways/trails/ten_fall_foliage_trails.pdf

Maps and details can be found in:

Erie Canalway Trail: Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Rochester Area and Take Your Bike – Family Rides in New York’s Finger Lakes Region

Genesee Valley Greenway: Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Rochester Area and Take Your Bike in the Finger Lakes and Genesee Valley Region.

Outlet Trail: Take Your Bike – Family Rides in New York’s Finger Lakes Region

Cato-Fair Haven Trail: Take Your Bike – Family Rides in New York’s Finger Lakes Region

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From a new park in Cohoes, visitors have an unobstructed view of the beautiful Cohoes Falls. According to John T. McDonald III, Mayor of the City of Cohoes, it’s the second largest falls in New York State. I wonder if that’s true?? Regardless, it looks like it would be a fun place to visit.

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Unless you’re really famous, it’s tough to make a living as a musician. It takes nearly constant touring just to keep up with the bills, playing night after night at bars, clubs, and coffeehouses all over the country. And now that it costs a small fortune to fill up a car with gas, some musicians are deciding that it’s just not worth the trouble and expense any more.

Christopher Bell didn’t want to stop touring just because he couldn’t afford to fuel up his Corolla, so he got creative. Bell traded his car for a canoe and embarked on an ambitious quest to paddle the length of the Erie Canal, starting in Buffalo and playing gigs at venues along the way until he arrives in New York City on September 4.

Bell’s journey serves as a reminder of the many great opportunities for recreation on the historic canal. Completed in 1825, the canal connected the Hudson River to the Great Lakes for the first time, opening up the interior of the country to barges and small ships and kicking off a mass migration into western New York State. Today, the 580-kilometer waterway is primarily used by recreational watercraft, so whether you’re into kayaks, canoes, or houseboats, you’ll have plenty of room to enjoy a unique perspective on the Empire State while floating on the canal’s gentle currents.

For those who want to hit the water, outfits like the Erie Canal Boat Company, with locations in Fairport and Pittsford, can get you set up with a kayak, canoe, or paddle boat in no time. And while there are a host of charming towns to visit along the canal, the journey itself is truly the destination.

Related Stories:
· Gig By Gig on the Erie Canal [New York Times]
· Erie Canal [Official Site]
· Erie Canal Boat Company [Official Site]

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Parks & Trails New York has announced the launch of a new easy-to-use interactive web site for those looking to bicycle the Erie Canalway Trail at: http://www.ptny.org/bikecanal.

Get all the information you’ll need to plan a trip bicycling, boating, or hiking along the canal. Interactive maps feature the Canalway Trail maps as well as things to see and do along the way.

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Pete Peterson biked the new section of Erie Canalway Trail from Palmyra to Newark and wrote this wonderful article on it (complete with pictures) for the Ontario Pathways newsletter. He has graciously agreed to let us share it with you. You may have to click twice (waiting between each click) to load this pdf file:
Erie Canalway Trail – Palmyra to Newark

Of course, maps and descriptions for the Erie Canalway Trail from Lockport to Palmyra can be found in Take You Bike – Family Rides in the Rochester Area. And, Take Your Bike – Family Rides in New York’s Finger Lakes Region covers the Erie Canalway Trail segments in Palmyra and Newark (but not the new connection), as well as the Port Byron to Camillus segment. Both guidebooks cover the Ontario Pathways Trail.

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As summer wanes and fall colors begin to appear, road bikers should be in prime biking condition. You’ve probably biked manFishers Cobblestone Pumphousey of the same familiar routes this year. Maybe you need a new goal – a new reason to head out for a spin. I recommend going on a cobblestone quest.

In your travels you’ve probably passed cobblestone houses, but not given them much thought. Most peopel don’t realize that they’re unique to Central and Western New York State. In fact, over 90% of the cobblestone buildings ever built in the world are within a 65-mile radius of Rochester, NY. The 700+ buildings were constructed between 1825 and 1860, before the Civil War. Each is a creative work of folk art.

Imagine moving slowly by wagon, over roads that were mere ruts of mud, to build a log cabin in a remote wilderness. This is precisely how the early pioneers to upstate New York arrived. They purchased plots of land from the Phelps & Gorham Land Tract or Holland Land Company and had to clear the trees from the dense forest to create fields for farming.

In the process, they discovered the fields were full of fist-sized stones (or cobblestones), evidence that glaciers scoured this land before the forests grew. Those pesky stones had to be moved out of the way, and as they plowed, the cobblestones seemed to multiply. It was hard work, but the land was productive and the pioneers were able to grow enough produce to feed their large families.

When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, it created a way to get their produce to larger markets. The farming business flourished, enough so that the farmers began to think about building better homes for their hardworking wives and 10+ children. Why not put those pesky cobblestones to use and build a dandy home – they were, by golly, lying about free in the fields, just waiting to be gathered. And, the pioneers were not strangers to hard labor.

The original cobblestone homes were simple farmhouses. Over the 35-year span during which all the cobblestone buildings were built, they became progressively more elaborate and refined. Construction methods evolved and masons began to select stones, sorting them by size and color. They build homes with stripes, herringbone patterns and artistic patterns created with the cobblestones.

Today, many of the cobblestone buildings are still standing and in use, a testament to fine craftsmanship. A few of the masons who built houses in upstate New York migrated farther west and built a spattering of cobblestone buildings in the mid-west. But, by far, the bulk that were ever built, are in upstate New York, south of Lake Ontario.Cobblestone Quest

The cobblestone buildings clustered in this region make great biking tours. 17 different tours are detailed in the guidebook Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings. The shortest tour is 22 miles, the longest 83 miles, with most in the 45 to 55-mile range. They wind through backcountry roads, passing cobblestone houses, barns, smokehouses, stores, factories, and even cemetery markers. The guidebook describes the technique of cobblestone building and the history of the buildings, so you will understand what you’re passing. As you ride along, marvel at the skill of the masons and admire the dedication of the homeowners who have lovingly maintained these buildings over the centuries. Hop on your bike and take a fall tour through the unique history of our region.

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