Winter '09

From the President

By David G. Barber

In one week in late October, I had the opportunity to visit two underway and widely separated canal restoration projects.

The first was early in the week, where while on a business trip to Wisconsin, I visited the lock at Menasha, WI and two of the four locks in Appleton, WI. On the lower Fox River, the Menasha Lock has remained in service despite closure of most of the Lower Fox River locks by the Corps of Engineers and subsequent transfer to the State of Wisconsin. Next to the lock is a museum and offices of the Friends of the Fox in the former lock tenders house. Unfortunately, the museum was closed during my visit late on a fall weekday afternoon.

Downstream of Menasha, the four Appleton locks were restored in 2007 by the state. Also restored more recently were the two moveable highway bridges over the navigation. I could also see Appleton Lock 1, but the sun angle was wrong. Locks 2 and 3 were easy to photograph. Lock 4 was inaccessible due to the on going replacement of the elevated College Avenue Bridge. All of these locks are surrounded by chain link fences, probably a legacy of their Corps of Engineer’s history. The Corps knows how to fortify a site. Rebuilding continues on the downstream locks.

At the end of the same week, I was able to visit the Erie Canal Park in Camillus, NY. There, a 37 year effort by volunteers with town support has produced a spectacular park along a several mile portion of the Enlarged Erie Canal. There are also pieces with interpretation of the original “Clinton’s Ditch” Erie Canal. The watered canal is divided into three sections. The west section is used for dinner cruises and is separated from the middle portion by Devoe Road. The middle section is used by park tour boats on Sundays and is separated from the east section by the missing, four span, Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct. You may walk or, in winter, ski along the entire length.

The great news is that after 37 years of effort, in October, contractors dredged the canal on both sides of the aqueduct and also dredged the silt out of the creek at the four spans of the aqueduct. So, on my visit, water now flows evenly under all of the towpath arches. The best news is that come spring, aqueduct timbers will again be set across the piers and by fall of 2009, we will be able to cross the aqueduct by boat and continue east one mile further to the next road. That reopening should be quite an occasion. I congratulate all involved in both of these projects,

A few photos of each project are included. More are on our web site, plus a link to more Fox River photos.

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