Erie Canal

Scott Willis / WAER News

More than 700 cyclists stopped in Syracuse Wednesday night on their trek across the state on the 20th annual Cycling the Erie Canal tour.  The ride also marks two other milestones:  The bicentennnial of the original canal, and the centennial of the barge canal.  WAER’S Scott Willis caught up with some of them earlier in the day at a rest stop at Sims store in Camillus, the halfway point between Buffalo and Albany on the 400 mile journey.  

John Smith / WAER News


The 100th year of the New York State Canal System was celebrated over the weekend with at least 100 Earth Day Events.  The “Canal Clean Sweep” had volunteers at sites along the 524 mile canal putting some gloves on and getting to work just ahead of the canal season.  Parks and Trails New York Spokesperson James Meerdink said he appreciates their hard work.  One community in the capital region lead a community effort that went beyond the canal system. 

Scott Willis/WAER News

An agriculture irrigation system for farmers. Creating canal-side pocket neighborhoods. Maybe a great Erie Canal race. Those are three of seven finalists announced today for the Reimagine the Canals Competition launched as part of this year’s bicentennial celebration. Kimberly Harriman is the Senior Vice President of the New York Power Authority, and presented the finalists at SUNY ESF.

John Smith / WAER News

Visionaries are credited with discovering in 1985 what would become the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum.  The roughly six acre site was overgrown with brush and trash.  Three-bay dry docks were restored.  The rebuilt versions are the only ones that exist on the Erie Canal.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse and the Erie Canal will be in the international spotlight starting Sunday when the World Canals Conference gets underway.  This year marks the bicentennial of the start of construction of  the canal, and WAER News is kicking off a series this week exploring three key locations along the canal route.  We start with the Erie Canal Museum downtown.

"Erie: The Canal that Made America" Official Trailer /

The Erie Canal is credited with the development of much of Upstate New York when construction began 200 years ago. But a locally produced documentary sets out to prove that the impact was felt far beyond New York State.  PBS’s “Erie: the Canal that Made America” will be broadcast nationally next week.

Senior Director of Special Productions at WCNY Television Jim Aroune says the canal can be linked to endless political, cultural, and economic opportunities outside of New York.         

Bridget McAllister/WAER News

A New York State landmark hit an important milestone this Independence Day. July 4th was the Bi-Centennial of the beginning of the construction on the Erie Canal.  Erie Canal Museum Executive Director Natalie Stetson is an obvious advocate for educating people on the Canal’s history and significance.

The New York State Canal System, which includes the Erie Canalway, received the honorary designation Wednesday as a National Historic Landmark.  The distinction is expected to build upon its successes for the tourism industry in Upstate New York.   At the announcement in Syracuse, State Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton explains how the more prominent status could also lead to new investments. 

Chris Bolt

Visitors to the Erie Canal Museum starting this week can enjoy an elaborate new exhibit that turns the main-floor visitors’ center into a fun and interactive journey through history.


The museum celebrated the completion of the museum’s new permanent first-floor exhibit, “The Erie Canal Made New York” after more than ten years of preparation, design and construction.


Scott Willis / WAER News

A coalition of local and state advocacy groups gathered at the Camillus Erie Canal Park Thursday to push for closing the remaining gaps in the 360-mile canalway trail in time for its bicentennial next year.  Progress has been made, but the most challenging gap appears to be right here in Syracuse.