Richmond Aqueduct

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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Good News for our Neighbors to the East

The Canal Society of New York has received some really exciting news.  This is a project some had long ago given up on, but the Society didn't throw in the towel and fifteen years later it looks like it's going to pay off. The New York State Thruway Authority has announced it will partner with the Society to become a major sponsor of the Port Byron Erie Canal Heritage Park Project which now raises the hope the dream will become a reality.

Founded in Buffalo on October13, 1956, the Canal Society is a not-for-profit educational organization that enables people to visit canal sites in New York State and beyond through regular, organized field trips, to share information and ideas about preserving canal history and traditions, and to advocate for canal renewal and development.
Erie House
Peter Van Detto built the Erie House in the early 1890's. After the Erie Canal closed in Port Byron in 1917, the Erie House was abandoned as a tavern and hotel and became a family residence for the Van Detto's. It remained in the family for more than 70 years. His daughters Theresa and Marie served as teachers at the local schools for many years. Peter also ran a similar tavern near the trolley at Stop 69 in Montezuma. 
The Society's vision is to create  a canal history destination alongside the New York State Thruway in Port Byron.  Within the former canal-side village in Central New York is the well-preserved and very visible Lock 52, a nearby canal prism and dry dock, the Erie House -- which served as a canal-era tavern and boarding house -- a mule barn and a blacksmith shop.

When completed, the site will provide a new and important cultural visitor facility interpreting New York State canal heritage with particular emphasis on America’s most famous canal, the Erie Canal. Because the site will be accessible from the Thruway, the Heritage Park will educate many people who might not normally come alongside a canal. In addition, the project will serve as a point of orientation and introduction to travelers on the New York State Thruway to canal destinations and attractions in other communities across New York State including it's neighbor to the west.

Congratulations Canal Society!  And, kuddos to the New York State Thruway Authority for recognizing the potential this project offers for all of us in New York State. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Does Apple Pie, Church and the Erie Canal Have in Common????

Historic Mentz Church, Montezuma, NY (Circa 1825)
I came across an interesting article about a 1968 Canal Society of New York group tour of the historic canal sites in Port Byron and Montezuma. This organization is dedicated to keeping canal heritage alive, and plans are that Port Byron will house its large collection of canal history at the Port Byron Erie House complex once completed. According to the article written by Betty Auten for the Geneva Times," this  is no small job because progress demands that the old must give way to the new."  I guess that's true, but sometimes those  "old ways" are worth carrying on.  The following legend was shared in the Geneva Times  article:
At 11 a.m., the sightseers left by way of Route 31 for Montezuma. About a quarter of a mile east of the village, the motorcade of 39 cars stopped to see the remnants of the Crane Brook Aqueduct. The prism of Clinton's Ditch curves as it crosses the Thruway and approaches this area; legend has it that this area was called Apple Pie Bend. Whenever the gate-keeper's wife heard a boat approaching in the distance, she would pop an apple pie into the oven so by the time the boat arrived, the men could have a tasty treat.

 This reminds me of a story I heard today about three riders on the "Cycling the Erie Canalway bike ride. These gentlemen seen the sign on Route 31 for the Historic Mentz Church, and decided to take a side trip to check it out.  They stopped and asked Paul Baker how much farther to the church. Paul showed them it was "just up the road a-piece" and asked if they would like to see the inside. So Paul dropped what he was doing in this garden, and gave them the grand tour.  I can only imagine that Paul's wife, Bunny could have been the gate-keeper's wife.  I can see her making apple pie and greeting the travelers along the Canal.  

Paul & Bunny Baker -- Good Ambassadors for our Community
So this was the impression our visitors had as they passed through our town, whether by boat or bike, we can still appreciate those that share their time for others passing through town. Would you want to come back -- I sure would!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heritage Park Design Committee (HPDC) Meeting

The monthly HPDC meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 28th, 7pm at the Montezuma Town Hall. Items up for discussion this month are logging proposal update, networking opportunities, signage, kiosks, trail designation, Canal Splash Canal Site Tours and community picnic, RTCA technical assistance, and funding.  Anyone is welcome to join the group or just attend the meeting.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cycling Through Montezuma

It was a great morning meeting bikers from all over the US and Canada.  Lots stopped by and were very interested in learning more about the great Erie Canal history and our plans for the park in Montezuma.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cycling Along the Erie Canal -- Welcome to Montezuma

The Montezuma Historical Society will be set up near the post office Wednesday, July 13th to welcome and cheer the bikers traveling through Montezuma on their way across the state for the 13th Cycling the Erie Canal tour. About 500 will be passing through on their trip that started in Buffalo on Sunday traveling across the state reaching Albany on Sunday.  The bikers were scheduled to be in Seneca Falls today and will be riding through Montezuma tomorrow with a scheduled rest stop in Port Byron at the Middle School.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Plans are in the works for the Canal Splash Celebration this year on Saturday, August 13th.  Following the tour of sites in Montezuma, there will be a picnic in Memorial Park, and a rare showing of a classic film in the town hall that depicts life as it was on the Erie Canal in upstate New York set in the mid-19th century.

"The Farmer Takes a Wife" opened as a 1934 Broadway play based on a novel, "Rome Haul"  by Walter D. Edmonds.  This film is the 1953 movie version of “A Farmer Takes a Wife,” starring Betty Grable and Dale Robertson. The movie was based on Walter Edmond’s novel "Rome Haul," and is a tale of love and conflict along the Erie Canal.