Summer '12

From the President

By David G. Barber

One of the things I think we should do more of is to celebrate the progress that is being made in preserving and using our historic canals. In Newark, OH, The Works, a technology museum, has completed a three year project to excavate and restore Lock 9 North. In the process, the museum removed a building that had been built over the lock and dug down about four courses of stone. They have since refilled it so only the top course of visible for safety reasons. They have also installed gates at the southern gate pockets, built a viewing platform, and landscaped the area. One problem was that the northern end of the lock, in the area of the northern gate pockets and north, had been removed. So, on the wall of a building now at that location, they painted a mural of that end of the lock and the view north. A very interesting site.

Elsewhere in Ohio, the Miami Erie Canal Corridor Association is making great progress in opening the canal towpath as a trail from the Johnson Farm site, north of Piqua, to Defiance and northward.

On the Delaware and Hudson Canal, northeast of Port Jervis, NY, Cliff Robinson has for several years been leading volunteer work days to clean the towpath between Hugernot and Westbrookville. At Hugernot, they have built a twelve car parking lot. Northeast of there, they have cleared the towpath to the Neversink Aqueduct. From the opposite abutment of the aqueduct, the towpath is county maintained through Cuddebackvile to the end of Lakeside Ave. From Lakeside Ave, the group has cleared the towpath to the main street of Westbrookville, except for two bridges at washouts which they hope to bridge this year. Beyond the missing Pine Kill Aqueduct in Westbrookville, the towpath has been cleared by others to Phillipsport, except for the short section where it passes through backyards on the northwest of route US 209. There is also a section of trail on the towpath northeast of Kerhonkson.

In my local area, we have made progress clearing the towpath and parallel trails in the northern end of the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park. We’ve also done some clearance of overgrowth in the actual prism. The big problem is a breach in the towpath where the river floods into the canal and then follows it south for half a mile before spilling out through another breach. It then circles around and washes the outside of the towpath. Because the canal route is more direct than the serpentine river, the water flows rapidly causing bank erosion. It’s now undermining and bringing down large trees causing an excellent floating trash trap. My efforts to get a dike built to stop the flow only produce nervous responses.

So, the fight goes on. Congratulations to all who are campaigning and achieving progress.

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