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Canalway starts a big year by becoming National Historic Landmark


The year 2017 could be a good year for the New York State Canal System. The federal government has designated it a National Historic Landmark, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning on integrating it into a proposed statewide hiking and biking route.

The historic landmark designation means the federal government recognizes the role of the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca Canals in the economic development of the United States. 

Brian Stratton, director of the New York Canal Corporation, says it’s a big move because it identifies the canal system as one of the the premier historic sites in the country.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
Brian Stratton, director of the New York Canal Corporation.

"It also opens up the opportunities for grants and other funding. It also creates an opportunity that people from all over the world will want to come here and see this great canal,” said Stratton.

Town of Dewitt planner Samuel Gordon says it is a great companion to Cuomo’s proposal to spend $20 million to create the Empire State Trail, a 750-mile hiking and biking trail that would geographically connect New York state. The Erie Canal Trail would be incorporated into that.

Gordon says the city of Syracuse and yown of Dewitt continue working towards ways to eliminate one of the biggest gaps in the Erie Canalway trail, through central New York. And this can only help.

Credit eriecanalway.org
The Erie Canal System.

"All these things work together. This is what we’ve been hoping to do, close the gaps in the Canalway Trail. This kind of designation helps us bring attention to how much this resource helps us in New York state,” said Gordon.

State officials says the canals are big business -- from boosting tourism, to offering water for drinking water, irrigation, mining, and commercial navigation. That all totals up to an economic impact of $6.3 billion a year.

“The fact that it’s still working, going, hasn’t stopped for 100 years, really tells the nation that this is a really historic place,” said Stratton

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.