Camillus Erie Canal Park
Canal Society members Dave & Liz Bebee and Fenton & Joan Hanchett have been very involved in the development and maintenance of the Camillus Erie Canal Park. Not only have they helped to create a wonderful interpretive site of early canal life, but they have been instrumental in seeing the fruition of the aqueduct restoration project in 2009.
Nestled between Nine Mile Creek and a wooded hillside near Camillus, New York, the Camillus Erie Canal Park was established in 1972 and is part of the Town of Camillus Park system as well as the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Upstate New York.The park includes over 10 miles of scenic wooded paths and walkways and boat rides along the historic Erie Canal. The main museum, Sims Store Museum, combines the old-fashioned charm of a canal store complete with exhibits, early photos, maps of the canal with models of locks, aqueducts and canal boats. The Steam Engine Exhibit is a unique opportunity to see a fully restored, turn-of-the-century steam powered power plant and learn about the technology that was “hot” during the industrial revolution of America.
From the beginning, the group dreamt of re-storing the 1844 Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct on the grounds. Through the years, work was done to stabilize the structure. Dave even donned scuba gear to dive into the creek and recover some of the capstones from the stone structure and had them put back in place.
The aqueduct provided a way for the first enlargement of the Erie Canal to be carried over Nine Mile Creek. This 144 foot waterway is listed as the smallest of the larger aqueducts. Four stone arches made of fine Onondaga limestone quarried form Split Rock supported the towpath.
Water was let into the aqueduct in 2009, thus establishing this as the only restored navigable aqueduct in New York State. Of the 32 original aqueducts on the First Enlargement, only about seven remain intact.
Downstream from the aqueduct are the remains of the 1820 Clinton's Ditch Aqueduct with an adjacent lock. Two stone arches supported the 120 foot water bridge. This area has been cleared and kiosks interpret the site.
To find out more about the Camillus Erie Canal Park, go to www.eriecanalcamillus.com.