New Seaway Guide: Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and the Maid

As Nik Wallenda prepares to walk over Niagara Falls, the newest book in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Guidebook Series &#8211 Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and The Maid &#8211 tells the stories of the Falls’ first tightrope walkers and other daredevils, the famous, and fascinating everyday people who have lived, worked, played and traveled along the Lake Erie, Niagara River, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines in New York and Pennsylvania.

Readers will discover interesting details about American Presidents, pirates, pioneers, chefs, lighthouse keepers, artists, and adventurers in the collection of vignettes enhanced by historic photographs, art, illustrations and maps.


The Maid in the new book’s title is the Maid of the Mist tour boat, a Niagara Falls tradition since 1846 and co-sponsor of the book project.

The guide’s introduction encourages driving the full 518 miles of the National Scenic Byway and stopping at a series of Great Lakes Seaway Trail “Outdoor Storyteller” signs to learn more facts about local architecture, agriculture, maritime, military and natural history.

The new book is written by Steve Benson and published by the nonprofit tourism promoter Seaway Trail, Inc., Sackets Harbor, NY. Benson is also co-author of Great Lakes Seaway Trail’s French and Indian War guidebook Waterways of Way: The Struggle for Empire 1754-1763.

Learn more about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail series of travel guides voted “Best of the Byways” by the American Recreation Coalition online at www.seawaytrail.com  or call 315-646-1000 x200.

Lake Erie region stories in Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and the Maid include: tales of fish wars and Lake Erie’s fury, the Erie Triangle, Dan Rice and Daniel Dobbins, War of 1812 combatants, grape growers, Celeron’s many legacies, the Dunkirk Lighthouse and notable shipwrecks.

Buffalo/Niagara Falls region stories include: Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpieces, a tale of pistols at 12 paces, shipwrecks and pirates, Underground Railroad heroes, the ghost of the French Castle, and the “Cat-of-the-Mist.”

Rochester/Central Lake Ontario region stories include: War of 1812 heroine Bathshua Sheffield Brown (her ancestors operate Brown’s Berry Patch, Waterport, NY)- Sam Patch, the Yankee Leaper- photography pioneer George Eastman, the Underground Railroad on Sodus Bay.

Eastern Lake Ontario region stories include: Harriet Tubman and other Underground Railroad heroes, “The Big Cheese,” the War of 1812 Battle of Big Sandy, a female Commandant at Sackets Harbor, a tale of two wrecks, and The Whittlesey Woman.

Thousand Islands/St. Lawrence River region stories include: skiffs, steamships, and yachts- pirate Bill Johnston- a Maple Island murder mystery- two castles- artist Frederic Remington, Fort de La Presentation, and the 1760 Battle of the 1000 Islands.

New Erie Canalway Map and Guide Issued

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission has released its 2012 Erie Canalway Map & Guide to introduce residents and visitors to the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. Copies can be obtained at 150 sites, including visitor centers, libraries, cultural heritage sites, and canal locks all along the New York State Canal System, and online.

The eight page newspaper-style guide includes a map of the National Heritage Corridor, as well as a list of canal-related cultural heritage sites, boat rental and tour companies, places to cycle on the Erie Canalway Trail, and more.


The map and guide, along with the website www.eriecanalway.org, are among the efforts by the heritage corridor commission to increase awareness about the waterway, trail, and national significance of the Erie Canal.

Lakes to Locks Passage Summer Travel Suggestions

Over 600 local travel suggestions have been submitted to the Lakes to Locks Passage website, just in time for the summer travel season. The site, which is co-branded with National Geographic, emphasizes travel and tourism opportunities that are submitted by local residents and locally-owned business owners.

A national advertising and marketing campaign is currently underway to promote the Lakes to Locks Passage, which stretches from Albany to Quebec, along the interconnected waterway of the Hudson River, Champlain Canal, Lake George and Lake Champlain and includes Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Washington, Warren, Essex and Clinton Counties. The site is built on the principles of Geotourism, which is defined as tourism that contributes to the economic health of communities by enhancing the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and well-being of its residents.

The site is as appealing to visitors as it is to people that live within the Lakes to Locks Passage according to Executive Director Janet Kennedy, who says “This website shines a spotlight on the region’s hidden gems, those places that provide local character to a destination. It is exciting to see the local commitment to delivering a distinctive travel experience.”

Lakes to Locks Passage is a New York and Federally designated byway, dedicated to stewardship of the natural, cultural, recreational and historic resources along the waterway. The collaboration with National Geographic unifies the region as a single destination, where users can pinpoint places of interest on a map and then learn about what the region offers in terms of nature, history, special events and outdoor experiences.

New York Heritage Weekend, May 19 and 20th

Organizations throughout the state will celebrate New York history during this year’s New York Heritage Weekend on May 19th & 20th. Now in its 3rd year, the weekend will offer special programs, discounted or free admission to sites and events that celebrate national, state or local heritage.

Guided hikes, local history festivals, historic garden events, open historic houses, and events that explore all kinds of New York culture and history are on tap. Last year Heritage Weekend hosted 166 Heritage Weekend events with 143 federal, state, and private organizations. For a full searchable listing of events, and maps see www.heritageweekend.org .

Not only does this Heritage Weekend celebrate New York’s rich history, but it also boosts local economies. According to recent studies, tourism generates 81 billion dollars and sustains over 670,000 jobs in New York. According to a recent study recent commissioned by the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Tourism Marketing Council and the U.S. Department of Commerce, 78% of US domestic travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities.

“Heritage Weekend opens the door to so many of New York’s great historic and cultural treasures,” said Beth Sciumeca, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. “Once that door is open, people will find that there is a lifetime of places to experience throughout the state.”

New York Heritage Weekend 2012 is funded in part by The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and sponsored by I Love NY, National Park Service, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and participating event partners.

Manhattan’s Mount Vernon Hotel Museum Lectures

Manhattan’s Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden is hosting a series of lectures this month. The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum building was constructed in 1799 as a carriage house and converted into a “day hotel” in 1826. Today the museum transports visitors back to that Mount Vernon Hotel, a 19th-century country resort for New Yorkers escaping the crowded city below 14th Street. These lectures are made possible in part by the support of the New York Council for the Humanities. Tickets are $10 for adults per lecture but free for students and seniors.

MARKET AND MEMORY: THE WAR OF 1812 IN COMMODITY AND SONG
On three consecutive Wednesdays participants can discover how the War of 1812 was remembered and celebrated in objects and song.

May 2nd at 6pm
Musicians Frank Hendricks and Linda Pratt examine the War’s long legacy in song.

May 9th at 6pm
Ronald W. Fuchs, Curator, Reeves Collection, Washington & Lee University, discusses the New York market for commemorative ceramics made in the UK after the War.

May 16th at 6pm
David Jaffee, Professor, Bard Graduate Center, looks at commemorations, parades, and newspaper accounts that celebrated heroes and battles.

THEY KEPT THEIR WORD
Thursday, May 10th, at 6pm

Hear about the important contributions of African-American women in literary societies in early 19th-century America. Women learned crucial writing, oration, and reasoning skills at literary societies that prepared them to claim the right of citizenship. Storytellers Debra Johnson and Sharon Holley combine their original research in Buffalo’s African-American Community with material from the Buffalo-Erie Historical Society.

Forum on Creative Tourism Development Slated

Karen Sheckells, the Friends of Herkimer Home and Kyle Jenks welcomed 14 attendees an inaugural cultural tourism event on March 18, and had such a productive session, they have decided to call a follow up meeting. Titled &#8220Maximizing Tourism’s Impact on Total Economic Development&#8221, the event will take place on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 from 5 &#8211 6 pm at Herkimer Home, in Little Falls, NY. They welcome you all to join the growing list of motivated individuals dedicated to fostering, encouraging and facilitating efforts to increase public traffic to historic sites in New York State. Please RSVP to Karen Sheckells at [email protected]

Budget, New Funding Boosts New York History

This week Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $89 million for in New York Works funding for capital improvements at 48 specific state parks and historic sites that account for 37 million of the park system’s 57 million annual visitors. The state budget signed last week also includes $35.6 million in total funding for the New York State Council on the Arts grants, an increase of $4 million. The Environmental Protection Fund is unchanged, at $134 million which includes 9M for the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums Program and additional monies for some historic preservation projects. According to the Museum Association of New York (MANY), there are no cuts in jobs or programs at the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, but &#8220Parks would be down 12 jobs, to 1,736, reflecting attrition and the ongoing hiring freeze.&#8221 Funding to run the parks would dip slightly, about 2.5 percent, to $211.3 million according to MANY.

According to a press statement issued by the Governor’s office, New York Works is designed to reinvent state economic development with innovative new strategy that will put New Yorkers back to work rebuilding the state’s infrastructure. The Task Force is expected to help create tens of thousands of jobs by coordinating comprehensive capital plans, overseeing investment in infrastructure projects, and accelerating hundreds of critical projects across the state.

Parks & Trails New York was among those who reacted enthusiastically to the New York Works plan. Through a series of reports over the last few years, Parks & Trails New York has attempted to document the challenges facing the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), particularly the agency’s enormous capital projects backlog, and the economic benefit the park system generates for the people and economy of the Empire State.

On a statewide basis, Parks & Trails New York reports that direct spending by OPRHP and spending by visitors to state parks supports up to $1.9 billion in output and sales, $440 million in employment income, and 20,000 jobs. The benefit-to-cost ratio is more than 5-to-1—more than $5 in benefits for every $1 in costs.

A detailing of projects in each region of the state can be found by using the Governor’s press releases here.

Handy Guide to Cycling the Erie Canal Updated

The outstanding bicycling and sightseeing waiting for visitors along the legendary Erie Canal is highlighted in the newly revised edition of Cycling the Erie Canal: A guide to 400 miles of adventure and history along the Erie Canalway Trail. The book, which features new sections of trail and up-to-date listings of lodging, bike shops, and other services, is published by Parks & Trails New York (PTNY), the statewide non-profit parks and trails advocacy organization.

Cycling the Erie Canal is a resource for cyclists planning to bike the entire route as well as for riders looking to enjoy an afternoon on the trail. It is also useful for walkers, hikers, in-line skaters, boaters, and auto travelers who want to enjoy the trail and some of the historic and cultural sights along the route.

The 144-page guidebook includes 42 full-color maps and more than 100 color photos that detail the trail route, as well as the things to see and do along the way. In addition to parks, museums, historic sites, and visitor centers, the maps indicate lodging and bike shops. Services such as restaurants, convenience stores, ATMs, pharmacies, post offices, hardware stores, and parking areas are also shown.

Cycling the Erie Canal includes interpretive information about the history of the canal, plus tips on cycling, travel, and trip preparation. A spiral binding, and 5” by 9” size make the guide convenient to carry.

The Erie Canalway Trail route runs east-west between Buffalo and Albany and follows both active and historic sections of the Erie Canal.

The guidebook is the outgrowth of Parks & Trails New York’s many years of involvement with the Canalway Trail. PTNY runs an annual cross-state bicycle ride along the Erie Canal which draws 500 participants from across New York, the U.S. and the world.

“Over the years, more and more requests have come in from cyclists who want to ride the route on their own and are looking for a resource to show them what to see and do along the way, where to find a B&B, and how to locate a bike shop, pharmacy, or ATM. Cycling the Erie Canal provides this critical information,” says Robin Dropkin, Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York and co-author of the guidebook.

Cycling the Erie Canal retails for $23.95. Parks & Trails New York members enjoy a special discount price. It is available from Parks & Trails New York by visiting the Parks & Trails New York website at www.ptny.org or calling 518-434-1583. The guide is also available at bookstores, bike shops and museum and gift shops.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers.

Amtrak and Fort Ticonderoga Partner in 2012

For the first time, Fort Ticonderoga and America’s National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) have partnered to connect people traveling between New York City and Montreal to one of the nation’s oldest and most significant historic sites, Fort Ticonderoga. Amtrak will offer one free companion rail fare with the purchase of one regular adult rail fare, on the state-supported Adirondack line to and from Fort Ticonderoga, New York, beginning April 1, 2012 through October 31, 2012.

“The partnership with Amtrak will enable Fort Ticonderoga to reach a broader destination market from New York City to Montreal,” according to Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga Executive Director. “Fort Ticonderoga is very fortunate to have an Amtrak stop on our property. Our epic story combined with the Fort’s immersive programs and beautiful landscape makes Fort Ticonderoga an exciting destination experience.”

Customers simply need to purchase tickets a minimum of 3 days in advance and enter discount code V430. The Northbound Adirondack operates daily between New York City and Montreal, departing New York Penn Station at 8:15 am arriving in Ticonderoga at 1:17 pm. The Southbound Adirondack departs Montreal at 9:30 am, arriving in Ticonderoga at 2:33 pm.

Fort Ticonderoga opens for the 103rd season on Friday, May 18 and will offer new programs, events, exhibits, gardens and a six-acre corn maze designed in the shape of the Fort. Fort Ticonderoga is open daily from May 18 through October 18, 2012 from 9:30 am until 5 pm.

Peter Feinman: OPRHP and NYS Cultural Heritage

The ongoing look at the history infrastructure in New York State continues here with the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). Within this overall department, Historic Preservation defines itself quite rightly as &#8220an important economic catalyst for New York State,&#8221 although the validity of this assertion often is overlooked by the powers that be. Read more