This is a record of our plans and development of a public park on 140 acres of historically and ecologically significant open space land along the Seneca River/Barge Canal in Montezuma, NY. Along with plans for the park, local history and events are shared as it relates to our Erie Canal heritage.
Second Largest Aqueduct Built on the Enlarged Erie Canal (1856-1917)
Today's warm sunshine was quite a contrast to last weekend when twenty-four Cayuga Community College students, professors and Montezuma volunteers walked on several trails in the rain to GPS trail locations and sites in the park. It didn't dampen any one's enthusiasm, and we appreciate everyone hanging in there to get the job done! We divided students and volunteers into three groups. I went with the group on the Reservoir and Paper Mill Trail. We started at Chapman Road and walked south entering the trail in the woods that borders National Wildlife Refuge property. Climbing to the top of the drumlin students equipped with high powered GPS units to record the coordinates through the dense woods marked the site of the reservoir that fed water to what was once a papermill plant.
We came back down the hill and proceeded down the berm side of the Enlarged Erie to to the ruins of the Montezuma Fibre Company (1906-1916).The 20,000 acres of Montezuma Swamp produced a natural resource that was harvested to make a heavy-weight paper. Flag, better known as cattails was a raw material harvested and being shipped on the Canal to distance cities for making chair seats and caulking barrels. The "Montezuma Wheat" as it was called provided raw pulp to make the paper. The price of an acre of swamp land went from seven to sixty dollars. The business failed in 1916 and what remains today are the concrete basement walls and floors.
After leaving the papermill site we returned to the berm side of the canal and walked west toward the Seneca River. Here we came out on the South side of the Richmond Aqueduct, which is a view visitors don't usually get to see. Climbing the banks near the aqueduct, students got a a view of this magnificent structure from the top of it. From here we walked back to the parking lot to join the others waiting to board the bus back to Auburn.
Today a group of eleven local volunteers came out to work on the trails. Armed with chain saws and loppers we headed into the park again to do some clearing of trees and shrubs that were obstructing views and walking trails. Again, we divided up into three groups to accomplish the goals we decided to first work on. John Malenick, Dan Randolph and John Potter tackled the twisted brush and trees that was hiding the full view of the crossover abutment at the High Street Byron Lapp Memorial Trailhead.
Tom Fitzsimmons and Stan Longyear headed down to the aqueduct to where a tree had fallen against the wall of the aqueduct obstructing the view from the Seneca River bank. From there they went on a trail entering near Lock 62 and cut up several large branches blocking the trail.
Mike and Mary Riley, Paul and Bunny Baker, Mellony Carner and myself headed back to the Reservoir trail were we spotted a few tree and branches needing removal. Paul and Mike tackled the bigger jobs, while us girls cut smaller brush along the way. Having finished what we set out to do, we headed to the Town Hall where we had homemade chili and johnny cake made by Bunny Baker.
THANKS EVERYONE! AND OF COURSE WE CAN'T FORGET THE CLERK OF THE WORKS! LIZZIE