The scenic Erie Canal-once labeled
the 8th Wonder of the World-is a great ribbon of water that cuts clear across
the Empire State. In the Genesee Country, this spectacular recreational resource
offers a score of canalside ports that are close,
fun and relaxing. In fact, the old Erie Canal has turned into a linear park, on
the verge of developing into one of the country's great tourist attractions.
The Erie is a boaters' paradise. You can glide serenely along in a canoe,
skip from spot to spot in a fishing skiff, or take an excursion on one of several
charter vessels that ply Erie's waters.
To experience the canal first
hand, drive to one of several home ports for a boat tour lasting from an hour
to all day and in some cases, all week. One boat is even powered by a pair of
On board, you'll find canal balladeers, storytellers and sprightly
explanations of local and canal history. Snacks and beverages are available, with
reservations needed for lunch or a romantic dinner cruise. As you relax learn
about the unique language of the "canawlers."
Modern canal travelers often find picturesque picnic areas with shady grounds
under swaying willows. Today the old towpath serves hikers, joggers and backpackers.
In some places, lights have been installed and long stretches black-topped to
accommodate cyclists and casual strollers.
Ashore, there's great food
to be found and some extraordinary out-of-the-way antique and fancy goods shops.
All this, while recapturing 19th century romance in neighborly towns
like Palmyra, Medina, Lyons and Lockport. And don't overlook Spencerport, Brockport,
Pittsford, Fairport or Bushnell's Basin. They're filled with local color, offering
lodging and legions of restaurants.
This summer, pick an afternoon to
"unlock the legends" as you cruise through 171 years of the Erie Canal's
If you go:
Canal Hotline: For Erie Canal services call the New York State Canal System in
Albany at 800-4-CANAL-4
the Erie Canal
Donovan Shilling lives in