Summer '10

From the President

By David G. Barber

Recently, I was able to attend the spring field trips of both the Pennsylvania Canal Society and the Canal Society of Ohio. Both of these trips were interesting in that they involved sections of canal that are not easily accessible, especially for groups. On the PCS tour, we visited the Upper Lehigh Canal, which runs through the Lehigh Gorge. As in a prior tour of this area many years ago, vans were used to follow the former Lehigh & Susquehanna Railroad grade, now a state park bike trail, through the deep gorge. The few access points make this the only way to show a group the canal remains. It was most interesting to see the many bicyclists using the trail and the many signboards that have been added since my last visit.

The CSO tour involved the Ohio & Erie Canal in Tuscarawas County and included the use of a fleet of gasoline powered golf carts. This new innovation to canal touring solved the problem of showing multiple sites along a three mile section of canal with a good, but narrow towpath that is away from roads. While each cart only carried four people and required recruiting drivers from among the participants, they were very quick to load and unload and very suitable to the towpath. They might have been less fun if it rained, but we only got a couple of drops. The tour committee is to be congratulated for thinking outside the usual box. I was also impressed with the improvements to the trail, locks, and other structures along the way and especially with the bridge across Interstate 77 at Fort Laurens that was opened in 2009, improving public access to the towpath.

May 22nd, I and several other ACS directors are joining the festivities in Camillus, NY, where in the town’s Canal Park they will be holding a day long dedication of the restored and rewatered Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct. This wood trunk on masonry pier aqueduct is now the only complete example of the several that once existed in New York State as part of the enlarged Erie Canal. It is also a great example of what a volunteer run and community supported park can accomplish.

This September, the World Canals Conference will be in Rochester, NY. I am very confident that this year’s conference will be as worthwhile as that held in Rochester in 2000.

Looking further forward, it will be at least three years before the WCC returns to North America. Your directors feel that there is a continuing need for meetings of canal volunteers, professionals and others interested in canals here, but on a smaller scale. So, we are planning an ACS meeting for September 11 – 13, 2011 in Delphi and West Lafayette, IN. Delphi is also a leading, volunteer run community supported park. Further information and a request for feedback are included with this issue of American Canals. Please fill out and return the form and the annual ballot for directors to help us plan and please plan on attending. If you would like to present a talk at this meeting, we would be interested in hearing from you. We will provide further information in future issues as we develop the plan.

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