Wayne Post
  • Preservation efforts along the Erie Canal honored

  • For the past 25 years, volunteers with the Macedon Trails Committee have been working tirelessly to breathe new life into some of Erie Canal’s historical sites.

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  • For the past 25 years, volunteers with the Macedon Trails Committee have been working tirelessly to breathe new life into some of Erie Canal’s historical sites.
    The Enlarged Erie Lock 60 and Gallup’s Change Bridge No. 39 projects in Macedon were awarded the 2013 Erie Canalway Heritage Award of Excellence from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission during a special ceremony on Wednesday, June 26 at the Palmyra Community Library. The award honors and celebrates significant places of the Erie Canalway and recognizes excellence in advancing the goals of the Erie Canalway Preservation and Management Plan.
    “Once completely overgrown and forgotten by time, these historic sites have been transformed into a park that is accessible to visitors coming by boat, bike, footpath and car,” said Vicky Daly, Erie Canalway commissioner and former mayor of Palmyra, along with Macedon one of the original canal towns.
    Located off Quaker Road, the project was begun in the late 1980s when Bill Ryder first pointed out the hidden piece of history shrouded in brush to Macedon Trails Committee Trail Master Pete Henry.
    “(Bill) grabbed his shovel and went to work,” Henry recalled of Ryder’s efforts to clear away the sumac trees growing thick in the area. “Soon everyone was helping.”
    Their efforts revealed the lock that had been opened in 1841 and later doubled in size to accommodate growing canal traffic. Each stone chamber in the lock is 18 feet wide by 110 feet long, Daly noted. The lock was abandoned in 1914 and replaced by Lock 30 when the current canal replaced the old waterway.
    “Volunteers recalled their early days ... when underbrush on site was so thick that they crawled on hands and knees to find the stone lock,” Daly said.
    But Ryder, who had earned the nickname, “Mr. Lock 60,” wasn’t done yet. Henry said next Ryder pointed out the bridge abutment nearby and off of O’Neil Road, also buried in brush, and they uncovered two abutments to the old change bridge. Volunteers cleared the growth away several times, Henry said, before they finally won the battle over the underbrush. The area, which can be seen near the canal path, is now mowed on a regular basis.
    “The testament I’d like to give is that this was all done by volunteers,” Henry said, adding that the village and town provided plenty of support of their efforts.
    Volunteers worked countless hours with the town and village, community and service organizations as well as businesses to preserve the lock and bridge abutments.
    “I don’t know if you know how lucky I am to have these people,” Macedon Town Supervisor Bill Hammond said, motioning to the volunteers in attendance at the meeting, adding his thanks to all those who made the new park what it is now.
    Page 2 of 2 - Today, the lock has become a tourist destination — a park with a dock for boaters, marked trails and wayfinding and interpretative signs. It offers solitude, beauty, history and relaxation for those who come to walk or jog the trails or stop for an afternoon picnic.
    "With the restored Aldrich Change Bridge and aqueduct at Aqueduct Park, which crosses from Macedon into Palmyra," Daly said, “Lock 60 and Gallup’s Change Bridge present visitors an unparalleled opportunity to envision the Erie Canal of the 1800s while also enjoying today’s canal and trail.”

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