Richmond Aqueduct

Richmond Aqueduct
Second Largest Aqueduct Built on the Enlarged Erie Canal (1856-1917)

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Last Tuesday was another cold, blustery night we've  become accustomed to here in Central New York, but the Halls of Montezuma were warmed with brightly colored visions and ideas posted on the walls of the town hall for what might be possible in the Montezuma Heritage Park.  Representative examples originally done by over forty students of Syracuse's 3rd year landscape architectural design studio last fall were presented by four of the student designers: Lauren Christler, Megan Reymore, Sara Russo and Kyle Weissenburger assisted by  faculty members, Cheryl Doble and Maren King.

Lauren Christler's focus points to an area off of Chapman Avenue
with linkage from past to present.

Most of the designs were focused ideas that linked our community's past Erie Canal history to the present.  Using natural elements of water, plantings and organic contoured paths throughout the park, their designs showcased our history using the remains of historic sites such as the aqueduct and paper mill.  This could be created through time lines flowing from the center of our town along the canal towpath to the park along the Seneca River. Monuments, statues, and an aqueduct sculpture featured throughout the site could tell the story of how the canal was built.  Several recreational activities would provide for fishing, cross country skiing, walking, hiking, picnicking, primitive camping sites,  boat dockage, bird and wildlife observation. Opportunities were seen for Erie Canal and natural resource education using open buildings that could later be enclosed.

The remains of the Montezuma Fibre Company on the south side of
the Enlarged Erie Canal could be made into a landscaped garden or a play area for children.  The site still contains the arched doors shown in the drawing here could be incorporated into the design. 

The 60' by 80' building was  on an eleven feet high foundation. The foundation walls are still on the site. The main building  was brick, two stories high with an attached boiler house 26' by 36', costing $22,000 when it was built in 1906. 

The mill produced a heavy-weight paper product from flag (cattails), known as "Montezuma Wheat" that grew in the 20,000 acre swamp that surrounded the area. The finished product was loaded unto the canal boats for shipment.

It was noted that popular tours that have been offered including the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, Audubon Center and Howland's Island could include this site. Much thought and consideration was given to the landscape of the parkland with boardwalks to protect the land along the flood plain areas and enhance the walking experience.  While much of the park would maintain its natural setting needing little maintenance, it was suggested the park could provide wonderful opportunities for the youth in the community to work in the park.

The students had a variety of practical, creative and innovative ideas to share while keeping with the natural elements and incorporating the Erie Canal historic resources. The design committee will consider the ideas, and begin to create a phased plan for development of the park. Anyone interested is invited to attend the planning meetings to be held on the fourth Thursday of the month at 7:00 PM at the town hall. 

The Town of Montezuma was selected to receive community technical assistance from the 2011 Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program, and will work with Karl Beard from the National Park Service.  RTCA helps communities plan, organize partnerships and achieve on-the-ground success for projects they initiate. We are very grateful to the park service and SUNY ESF for support of our project.

Kyle Weissenburger focused on a Route 31 entrance with a nearby boat launch
marketing to New York State Fishing Clubs.
Maren King of SUNY ESF faculty member discusses student ideas with
Town Supervisor John Malenick;  Stan Longyear and Paul Baker, Design
 Committee members; Bill Hecht; and Karl Beard from the RTCA program at
the National Park Service.

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