Richmond Aqueduct

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

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I would like to give attention here to another worthy Erie Canal project. Joe Deverell, a Weedsport native,  has begun a 150 mile trip traveling the Erie Canal on a Venetian Gondola from Buffalo to Baldwinsville. I've never met Joe, but I knew his mother, Val who worked at the Weedsport Library. Val died in 2004 of Lou Gehrig's disease, and the trip is a tribute to her memory, and to help raise money for a treatment and cure of this devastating disease. Learn more about his trip and follow Joe on his journey at his website: Gondola Joe.  

Saturday, September 26, 2009


It's done! We completed the dig today. It was a beautiful day on the site -- perfect weather to close out the three units. The highlight of the day was successfully excavating the wheel uncovered in Test Unit #3. We had another great turnout of volunteers to complete this part of the project. In a couple of months we will schedule a time to clean and archive the artifact collection for later exhibit. A report will be done and a surveyed map will be overlaid on a historic map of the site.  I'll update the blog with more pictues from today soon. In the meantime, here's an article by Sara Gantz who was on site today from our local newspaper, The Citizen.

There are so many people to thank who made this project successful. This whole idea started as the result of a grant the Montezuma Historical Society received through the Upstate History Alliance to hire a consultant to help with an Interpretative Plan. We met with Linda Norris, an interpretative consultant who suggested we consider doing an archaeology dig. Linda recently highlighted the Montezuma dig along with two other groups to demonstrate what made volunteerism work with these projects. Check out Linda's September 22 entry on her blog at the 


Attention Volunteers: 

If you are checking in here this morning , the sun is shining and we're ready to go. See you at the sight at 10 AM!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Due to weather conditions not looking favorable today and some volunteers unable to be available, we've decided to reschedule the dig for SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH AT 10 AM.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Plans are to resume our work tomorrow morning, September 12th, 10 AM at the Historic Four Canals' site. 

Weather conditions may not be favorable again this weekend. Mr. Babson and I will make a decision by 8:30 AM if we feel it's best to cancel.  I will post another update here tomorrow by 9:00 AM, and also do my best to contact by phone those who I know might be coming should we decide to cancel.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Artifacts Found

Some lively competition began to develop early on between the test unit sites. Everyone wanted their site to find something exciting and unexpected. Site #3 quickly came to a halt as they began to uncover a small spoke wheel. Detailed drawings and measurements were made and recorded. Click on the top two photos for a larger, more detailed view of the wheel.                  

Taking Cover From the Rain

Never fear…if you wait long enough in CNY, the rain will come, and come it did. We quickly covered up the sites with black plastic and headed over the bridge and back to a tent on the other side of the ditch to wait out the storm. We did this on Saturday and repeated it again on Sunday.  

Mike Riley, Stan Longyear and Bob Melvin listen to David Babson tell intriguing stories of his 35 years of experience as an archaeologist while we snacked and waited for the rain to end.                                                                                                                                                                    

Terry Warner and Andy Varga assist Anita Messina in covering Unit #3 

Sifting for Artifacts - 8/29-30, 2009

 Bob Melvin, Port Byron, Dru Lis, N. Tonawanda and Chris Gradzien, Weedsport worked together on test unit #1. From the screens we were able to find the smaller artifacts such as china, glass, brick, and nails.

The soil from the units were sifted with screen units built by Dan Randolph of Montezuma. Here he gets to try one out to put it to the ultimate test on Unit #3.

Documenting the Test Units

M. Holmes, Auburn makes notes on Test Unit #1 with her 

granddaughter, Gabrielle Babilot, Weedsport 

My Man, Stan, Loves to Play in the Dirt

Although he'd much rather be playing in the dirt on a JD,
he is really enjoying himself here.

The Digging Begins

Here’s where everyone digs in and the real work begins.

Test Unit #2 - Stan Longyear, Montezuma and Margaret Sullivan, Auburn

Test Unit #1 - Gabrielle Babilot of Weedsport

Test Unit #3 - Anita Messina, Terry Warner, Port Byron and 
Andy Varga, Niagara Falls

Test Unit #1 - Matt Gradzien, Weedsport

Finding Soil Color and Type for each level

Staking out the test units on 8/29/09

Receiving Instructions Before We Begin on 8/29/09

Our special thanks for the success of this project goes to Mr. David Babson, Archaeologist from Syracuse. He designed and conducted the project very precisely with over 35 years of expertise.  His professional direction will add to a better understanding of this site during the Erie Canal era in New York State while assuring there was minimal disturbance to the archaeological resource base.

Mr. David Babson, Archaeologist

Surveying the Site - 8/29/09

Before we could begin the area was surveyed.  Services were donated by Watkins Land Surveying of Auburn. Here Joni Lincoln and Terry Warner assist surveyor, Steve Defendorf, to get started.  Archaeologist, David Babson prepares to start the day with plenty of repellent to ward of those pesky mosquitoes. We all were starting to get a taste of what it must have been like to work in these elements in the canal era.

Joni Lincoln, Town of Conquest Historian

Steve Defendorf,  Surveyer from Watkins Land Surveying, Auburn, NY

David Babson, Archaeologist, Syracuse, NY

 Terry Warner, Port Byron and David Babson, Syracuse

Preparing to Start the Dig on 8/29/09

We were off to a late start on Saturday, August 29th. Threatening skies and weather forecasts for thunder showers couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of those who showed up for the dig.  The site had been prepared prior to the dig by the Cayuga County Sheriff's Inmate Work program  with the supervision of my husband, Stan Longyear and Deputies Bruce Watkins, Todd Fisher, and Larry Westover.  

Tools for the project had to be transported by lawn tractor and then carried across the Clinton's Ditch via a bridge that Stan and Bob Melvin built with pallets and lumber donated from Secor Lumber Company, Savannah.  Bob Alnutt lent his newly painted golf cart (Case Orange, of course) for transportation to and from the site.

Mike Riley, Canal Historian came with maps and photos that showed how the site would have looked when the first Erie Canal opened in 1820. Bill Breen, our own resident amateur archaeologist gave us a hand to help transport the tools to the site. Bill has unearthed Indian artifacts and has an extensive collection of arrow heads from the Montezuma area.

Joni Lincoln and Mike Riley

Terry Warner ascends the site crossing the bridge over 
Clinton's Ditch near Lock 62

Early Map of the Four Canals Site

L to R: Seated: Sharon Alnutt; Mike Riley, Stan Longyear, Bob Alnutt

 Left to Right: Ken Vanwie, Stan Longyear, Bill Breen, Mike Riley

Left to Right: Dan Randolph, David Babson, Stan Longyear