100 Must See Miles on the Erie Canal

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TODAY’S ERIE CANAL, A NATIONAL HERITAGE CORRIDOR, is once again a major attraction among the many waterways to be discovered and enjoyed in Western New York. To its north is Lake Ontario, a fresh-water Great Lake known for fabulous fishing, sensational sailing, and beautiful beaches. Parallel to Lake Ontario is the 518 mile scenic driving route – the Seaway Trail – one of the first roads in America to be designated as a National Scenic Byway. South of the Erie Canal are the elongated lakes, glacier-formed hills and valleys and fabulous vineyards of the Finger Lakes Region.


Over 200 years after it first appeared, the Erie Canal encourages a variety of recreational and cultural activities on and along its route. Visitors discover that the Erie Canal is truly a four-season experience, too. Make sure you come equipped with a camera to document the quintessential 100 MUST-SEE MILES ON THE ERIE CANAL! Year-round activities and attractions include: }


Biking, hiking, roller-blading, jogging and cross-country

skiing along the original Erie Canal towpath


Canalside festivals and concerts

Nature, wildlife and an ornithologist’s dream — watch


Narrated cruises on tour boats such as the Sam Patch

for eagles, blue herons, osprey, and bluebirds that settle into trees and canalside birdhouses.


Shopping at clusters of charming shops


Culinary experiences at bakeries, restaurants and over

a dozen craft beverage centers including breweries, wineries, distilleries and a meadery.


Cultural activities such as visiting historic sites, museums,

galleries and participating in creative workshops


As soon as the water flows from mid-April to mid-October, activities include:


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(Pittsford) or Colonial Belle (Fairport) Boating, canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding bring your own or rent from a local outfitter! Hydro-cycling rentals from Pedal & Paddle in Medina Canal boat rentals for extended cruising from Erie Canal Adventures in Macedon Competitive rowing at Genesee Waterways Center Fishing for bass, pickerel, walleye, pike, catfish, carp, yellow perch, and sunfish

Kiosks and interpretive signs provide interesting stopping points as well as plenty of parks for family picnics along the canal’s shoreline. Yet perhaps most captivating of all are the working canal locks, where people gather to watch a procession of boats rise and fall to the rhythm of carefully controlled waters.


Park Avenue Summer Art Festival / Rochester Rochester Summer Soul Festival / Rochester Palmyra’s Pirates Festival / Palmyra The Erie Armada / Macedon Newark’s Canal Concert Series / Newark Wayne County Fair / Palmyra

May Day Out with ThomasTM / Medina Rochester Lilac Festival / Rochester Pittsford Paddle and Pour Art & Music Festival / Pittsford Wildlife Festival / Savannah June Holley June Fest / Holley Fairport Canal Days / Fairport Strawberry Festival / Albion Albion’s Canal Concert Series / Albion (June-August) Rochester International Jazz Festival / Rochester Finger Lakes Live Steamers / Clyde

September Orleans County Heritage Festival / Orleans County Clothesline Arts Festival / Rochester Rochester Fringe Festival / Rochester Macedon Center Lumberjack Festival / Macedon Finger Lakes Live Steamers / Clyde Palmyra Canaltown Days / Palmyra Purple Painted Lady’s Annual Art Festival / Macedon

July PTNY Cycle the Canal / Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany Holley’s Canal Concert Series / Holley (July-August) Corn Hill Arts Festival / Rochester Spencerport Canal Days / Spencerport Rochester Pride Festival / Rochester Taste of Wayne County / Newark Lyons Peppermint Days / Lyons Newark’s Canal Concert Series / Newark (July-August)

Cruise the past and unlock the adventure on 100 MUST-SEE MILES ON THE ERIE CANAL as it winds its way through



ouch the past in abandoned canal locks and historic buildings. Cross “bridges” into the present by floating along calm waters and strolling picturesque village streets. Visit sites that have survived unchanged and savor a slower pace while traveling through magnificent scenery. Taste freshly harvested produce at a local farmer’s market. Enjoy the fun of a lively canalside festival or concert!

October Fairport Oktoberfest / Fairport Pumpkinpalooza / Lyons Wayne County Apple Tasting Tour / Wayne County

Since the early 1900s, school children and adults have been singing these words across America and around the world:

ovember Olde Tyme Christmas Fest & Parade of Lights / Medina N The Polar ExpressTM / Medina (November-December)

August Albion’s Summer Fest & Rock the Park / Albion Brockport Summer Arts Festival / Brockport Fairport Music Festival / Fairport


ecember Candlelight House Tour / Palmyra D ROC Holiday Village / Rochester

Many feats of engineering were needed to conquer major challenges in building the first Erie Canal.


A t the Great Cayuga Swamp near Clyde, workers found their ditch completely filled back in each day with no trace of their previous labors. The problem was resolved with the use of wooden retaining walls held in place by posts driven so deeply into the ground that the sides of the canal’s trench were at last maintained. A t the deep Irondequoit Creek Valley and its glacier-formed hills, an embankment was created to carry the canal 70 feet above the valley floor by carting dirt in wheelbarrows. This Great Embankment, at what is now known as Bushnell’s Basin, was the largest ever accomplished by man.



Perhaps the answers lie in the ageless allure of traveling on waterways and the timeless appeal of legends. Whatever the reasons, the Erie Canal continues to fascinate. So if you have enough time, travel its nearly 350-mile route between Albany and Buffalo. But if you only have a few days, or a few hours, to discover its magic, then spend your time along 100 mustsee miles of the Erie Canal as described for you here!

C onstruction of a stone aqueduct spanning more than 800 feet and supported by 11 stone arches was the solution to crossing the roaring Genesee River in Rochester. When completed, visitors from around the world came to view its great expanse. N ear Medina, the Canal Culvert tunnel was created to allow a road to go under the canal, avoiding a very expensive and time consuming construction of not only a bridge but the building up of roadways on both sides.

A LESSON IN HISTORY Before there was an Erie Canal, there were miles of wilderness, swamps, mountains, waterfalls, great inland lakes, an ocean, tribes of Native Americans, and a few intrepid settlers. There was no easy way to move people, raw materials or manufactured goods from the international highway of the Atlantic Ocean to America’s internal thoroughfare—the Great Lakes. That fact changed forever when a man-made channel called the Erie Canal was born on July 4, 1817 as crews of untrained men, with no professional engineers to lead them, began digging at Rome, New York. Working through incredible obstacles and major construction challenges, “Clinton’s Folly” was completed in 1825.

This is your “ticket” for a wonderful voyage—by land and by water—along 100 must-see miles of the Erie Canal. Read about the many attractions, events and experiences these miles have to offer, then enjoy your journey!

www.orleanscountytourism.com 585-589-3100

www.visitrochester.com 800-677-7282

www.waynecountytourism.com 800-527-6510

www.nyscanals.gov 800-4 CANAL 4

www.100MustSeeMiles.com The Erie Canal Culvert in Medina

David Arilotta Photography

® I LOVE NEW YORK is a registered trademark and service mark of the New York State Department of Economic Development; used with permission. Cover photo by Jack Kidd. Village of Pittsford photo by Scott Ellman


Why has this refrain echoed through decades to a time when people can travel millions of miles through space? Why does “Clinton’s Big Ditch” still intrigue us?


“I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal, Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal. She’s a good old worker and a good old pal, Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.”


First envisioned by Jesse Hawley, a miller in the town of Geneva, the idea of such a pro­ject was deemed “little short of madness” by President Thomas Jefferson. Nonetheless, the concept of a canal stretching across the state of New York became a reality with the support of DeWitt Clinton, mayor of New York City

at that time. Despite ridicule of his canal-building dreams, Clinton became governor of the state in 1817, got funding quickly approved by the state’s Legislature, and construction of the most famous canal in America began. When if officially opened on October 26, 1825, the Erie Canal was acclaimed as the greatest engineering marvel in the world:


363 miles long

40 feet wide


4 feet deep


18 aqueducts to carry its waters across rivers, and 83 locks to raise and lower boats a total of 682 vertical feet from end to end At a cost of just over $7,000,000


BENEFITS The benefits from this new route to the western frontier were both immediate and dramatic. Travel time was cut in half and shipping costs reduced by 94%! The Erie Canal also caused the first great westward movement of American settlers, turned Rochester into a “boom town”, and made New York City the busiest port in the United States.

FURTHER IMPROVEMENTS Between 1836 and 1862, the canal was rebuilt to make it wider (70 feet) and deeper (seven feet) with 72 double locks and minor course changes to increase the speed of traversing it. From 1905 to 1918, an entirely new and enlarged canal system was created to accommodate even larger barges. Major course changes were made and most of the original man-made channel was abandoned as rivers that originally had been avoided were “canalized.” One hundred years after its creation, the Erie Canal evolved in the shape you see today:

125 feet wide


12 feet deep


35 locks

It also became part of a larger New York State Canal System with four connected canals and natural waterways covering 524 miles. Although its path and shape have been altered through the years, the wonder of that very first Erie Canal has never been forgotten. Visitors by the thousands continue to travel a tranquil route as this fascinating ribbon of water threads its way through a 21st century, while still proudly retaining traces of its 19th-century origination.


Medina ≥ Meander a 19th-Century Main Street

Holley was named for canal commissioner Myron Holley, who never visited there!

In the early days, most captains and their families lived on board their boats and spent their entire lives going back and forth on the canal.

Wetlands Walk

Canal boat rentals

35 Enlarged Erie Canal

36 Mud Creek Aqueduct /

37 Alling Coverlet Museum 38 William Phelps

Lock No. 60

Aldrich Change Bridge

General Store Museum

39 Grandin Building 40 Hoffman Clock Museum 41 Newark-Arcadia Historical

42 Museum of Wayne

Society & Museum County History

43 Enlarged Erie Canal Lock 56 44 Canal Corp Drydock 45 Peppermint Museum/

H.G. Hotchkiss Building

46 Mural Mania 47 Trail of Hope 48 Enlarged Erie Canal

Lock No. 54

49 Galen Historical Society Brick Church Museum

50 Montezuma Audubon Center

Locks number 32 and 33 are the only locks on the system that are narrower at the bottom than at the top. No one really knows why.

Holley ≥ Hobnob with History

Settled in 1812, Holley was established on the original Erie Canal. Visitors can enjoy well-preserved reminders of its bustling past including the village square, historic sandstone buildings, and 1914 fountain. The restored railroad depot (circa 1907) is now a museum filled with local lore and canal information, while Holley Falls Park is a scenic, forever-wild area ideal for picnics, nature walks, hiking and fishing. The village has an inviting gazebo and a playground for children as well. Brockport boasts two lift bridges-just 900 feet apart-and operated by one person dashing between them! Traces of an active history include the 1870’s manufacturing site of inventor Cyrus McCormick’s first agricultural reaper, now Harvester Park with picnic tables and grills. Boaters and Cyclists will receive a warm welcome and overview of the Community at the Brockport Welcome Center, which offers several amenities, including free bike rentals. Enjoy the bustling waterfront village today and discover its past through the Emily L. Knapp Museum and Brockport Community Museum Interpretative Panels throughout the community. The village is also home to the campus of The College at Brockport, a State University of New York.

Thirsty? Over a dozen craft beverage centers are located along the 100 Must See Miles including wineries, breweries, distilleries and a meadery

At the turn in Medina, the canal is running in an aqueduct above Oak Orchard River so if you stop and look over the edge, you can see waterfalls and people fishing from boats under your boat!

Spencerport ≥ Shop a Scenic Route

1 Medina Armory YMCA & Company F Memorial

2 Medina Railroad Museum 3 Bent’s Opera House 4 Medina Sandstone

Greece ≥ Greet a Genial Resting Place

Hall of Fame

Greece is a thriving retail, commercial, and residential area, and the largest town in Monroe County in both population and size. At historic Junction Lock, visitors can see where the original Erie Canal met a later enlarged version. A full-service marina near tiny Henpeck Park offers the convenience of overnight docking, fuel and more. The park itself has picnic benches and tie-up cleats. At the larger Greece Canal Park nearby, a dock, restrooms and recreational opportunities

Rochester ≥ Revel in Its Riches

5 Pedal & Paddle 6 Medina Aqueduct & Falls 7 Erie Canal Culvert 8 Cobblestone Schoolhouse 9 Courthouse Square Historic District

Services Along the Canal







10 Cobblestone Museum

11 Holley Falls

19 National Susan B. Anthony

20 The Strong National

23 George Eastman Museum

Museum & House





Internet Access

Post Office


Small Boat Launch

The speed limit on the first canal was 4 miles per hour. It’s 6 to 10 miles per hour today.

& Golf Club

15 Spencerport Depot & Canal Museum

& Science Center

24 Old Erie Canal Lock 62 16 Genesee Waterways Center 25 Lock 32 Erie Canal Park 17 Brooks Landing Boat 18 Corn Hill Landing Lock



Visit our website for detailed Points of Interest information

Susan B. Anthony and her family arrived in Rochester on the Erie Canal and many slaves escaped to freedom by using it.

www.100MustSeeMiles.com MEDINA


Visitors can enjoy traveling along one of very few sections of the original Erie Canal still in use. People also take pleasure in hiking a pathway from the main Canal Trail to historic Lock E-60, built in the 1850s when the canal was enlarged. At Macedon Canal Park, there are picnic areas, hiking trails, boating facilities, and an observation deck to survey the view. Boaters appreciate the full service marina and campgrounds nearby..

Palmyra ≥ Plunge into Past Times & Pageantry

Lyons ≥ Lead a Leisurely Life

12 Lift Bridges can be found between Medina and Fairport


Fairport did not exist before construction of the Erie Canal dried up swamps in the area to leave fertile ground and a “fair port” for travelers. Today, Fairport is the model of a modern canal village where the canal functions as a second main street. Fairport’s many offerings include shopping, dining, craft breweries, a distillery, winery, scenic parks & trails, as well as seasonal festivals and events. Fairport features the only sloped lift bridge along the canal.

Newark was born in 1853 with the merging of a settlement called Miller’s Basin and a hamlet known as Lockville. In its earlier days, this town was famous for having the world’s largest field of roses plus nurseries that sold trees and shrubs along the canal. Newark today offers visitors one of only five clock museums in the United States, the unique Hoffman Clock Museum. The Newark Interpretive Center also provides a handy picnic area and various services for boaters and cyclists.

Fairport ≥ Find a Friendly Stop

A model for the book, Canal Town, Palmyra retains its historic appearance. Internationally famous as the birthplace of the Mormon religion, with historic sites and a visitor center open all year. West of the village is Aqueduct Park, where its stone­arched namesake carried the original Erie Canal over Ganarqua Creek. Also found here is the Aldrich Change Bridge, manufactured in 1858 and used to “change” mules across the canal from one side to the other. Other distinctive features include an 1890s general store “time capsule” and the Alling Coverlet Museum with the largest collection of handwoven coverlets in America.

12 Holley Depot Museum Museum of Play 13 Canalfront Welcome Center 21 Memorial Art Gallery 14 Arrowhead Marina 22 Rochester Museum

Rich in history, this canal-side hamlet of stores, restaurants and inns has prospered for nearly two centuries. Dine at the oldest original Erie Canal Inn, visit a craft brewery, and taste goodness at a nationally renowned ice cream shop. Shop and stay following in the footsteps of travelers of long ago. A full service destination for boaters, hikers and cyclists alike. “The Basin” is a must-see on the Erie.

Newark ≥ Navigate a Neighborly Place







villagemedina.org villageofalbionny.com villageofholley.org brockportny.org vil.spencerport.ny.us greeceny.gov visitrochester.com townofpittsford.org perinton.org Erie Canal Basin Erie Canal Park Holley Canal Park Brockport Arrowhead Marina Spencerport Docks Allen’s Canalside Marine Corn Hill Landing Port of Pittsford Bushnell’s Basin Groceries Restrooms (585) 798-0710 (585) 589-9176 (585) 638-6367 Welcome Center & Golf Club (585) 352-4771 (585) 426-5400 (585) 234-6066 (William A. Public Docks Shopping Showers (585) 637-5300 (585) 352-5500 Carpenter Park) (585) 223-5050 (585) 248-6495 Laundry

Mules are the infertile off-spring of a male donkey and a female horse.

The opening of the Erie Canal was “announced” in just two hours by cannons firing in sequence from Buffalo to New York City. The first boats arrived nine days later.


Points Of Interest

The settlement that began as Spencer’s Basin in 1825 after the Erie Canal was cut through Daniel Spencer’s land, soon became the village of Spencerport, incorporated in 1867 with the canal as its main street. Businesses popped up to service the boats and passengers brought by the canal. Visitors to Spencerport today will discover “someplace special” featuring a charming Main Street of shops and services, along with the Spencerport Depot and Canal Museum.

Bushnell’s Basin ≥ Browse a Beautiful Scene

Macedon ≥ Marvel at Memories Maintained

Inland “ports” such as Fairport, Brockport and Spencerport took their names from being located on the canal.

Brockport ≥ Bridge a Bustling Past

In 1789, Revolutionary War veterans settled in Northfield, which was renamed Pittsford in 1814. Claiming Monroe County’s first school, first library, first lawyer and first physician, it was the Erie Canal that first brought prosperity to Pittsford when tons of heavy gravel from nearby hills found an inexpensive mode of transport. Today a restaurant inhabits the former coal tower and a year-round population of ducks lives near a grain mill. The village today maintains its distinctive small town character, while specialty shops, dining spots and a tour-boat depot line the towpath in Schoen Place. Nearby Lock 32 is an active site, and features the only man-made whitewater rafting park on the Erie Canal.

34 Erie Canal Adventures

The white glow welcoming visitors to Albion is reflected from the dome of its magnificent Greek Revival County Courthouse, an 1858 structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For an interesting walk amid 19th-century treasures, the village’s Historic Courthouse District includes 34 buildings from private homes to seven churches. Canalside Park provides boating facilities, a pavilion, picnic area, and benches for watching lift-bridge operations. More than 100 birdhouses along the canal encourage bluebirds to stay awhile, too!

Pittsford ≥ Pause for Peaceful Pleasures

Albion ≥ Arrive with Artistic Style

The Erie Canal turned Rochesterville into an American “boom town,” and today’s Rochester is the third largest city in New York. The canal first traveled through the center of the city across an 800-foot stone aqueduct over the Genesee River, a major achievement at that time! Visitors can still see the second, sturdier version of that feat, built in 1842 to replace the original aqueduct, it’s the base of the Broad Street Bridge. Now Erie Canal boaters reach Rochester via the Genesee River. While the canal no longer flows directly through the city, Rochester’s downtown is accessible on the water by way of the Genesee River. Docking and services are at Corn Hill Landing in the historic Corn Hill neighborhood. Many museums & cultural institutions are a short bike or car ride from the waterfront.

26 Schoen Place 27 The Sam Patch 28 Great Embankment Park 29 Fairport Lift Bridge 30 Packett’s Landing 31 Erie Canal Boat Company 32 Colonial Belle Boat Tour 33 Thomas Creek

This historic village became famous for its fine sandstone deposits, an ideal building material that was shipped around the world. Today, Medina is experiencing a renaissance, including historic revitalization projects, a thriving business district with additional lodging, an attractive Marine Park at the wide turning Canal Basin as well as train excursions along the canal corridor from the Medina Railroad Museum. Another unique highlight is the Canal Culvert-a tunnel allowing motorists to drive under the Erie Canal-two miles east of Medina and featured in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”.

Points Of Interest







Village.fairport.ny.us macedontown.net palmyrany.com villageofnewark.com lyonstown.com clydeny.com Village of Fairport Docks Erie Macedon Landing Port of Palmyra Village of Newark Docks Town of Lyons Docks Village of Clyde Docks (585) 223-0313 (315) 986-3011 (315) 597-4849 (315) 331-2705 (315) 946-6252 (315) 923-3971 Tourism info: Miller’s Marina finditinfairport.com (315) 946-9363

As the county seat, Lyons proclaims its importance with an impressive silver dome above the Wayne County Court House that is visible for miles. Lyons had the distinction of being an international exporter of peppermint and essential oils during its flourishing canal days. Located in an 1854 former sheriff’s residence and attached stone jail, the Museum of Wayne County History provides visitors with a glimpse of that earlier time, pre-historic and Native American life, and military history of the area. Visit the 1915 Ohmann Theatre. The historic 1929 Dipper Dredge 3 is located at the nearby drydock. Nearby Abbey Park is an Empire Bike Trailhead, has kayak & small boat launch and restrooms.

Clyde ≥ Choose Countryside Charm

Some of the Erie Canal’s most beautiful scenery is Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge nearby. A unique feature of this settlement, first inhabited by Scottish immigrants, is the name of its principal street, which is Glasgow rather than Main. Clyde has also retained its traditional village square and quaint bandstand, which serve as a popular gathering place. A stop at the Galen Historical Museum uncovers yet another unusual facet of this pleasant village. Although primarily a rural community, the major business was once the Clyde Glass Works, started in 1828 and nationally known for its bottles and mason jars. Be sure to visit 1722 replica Blockhouse. Lauraville Landing is a popular kayak/canoe launch and picnic area.