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Summer reading list: Canal Lit

Searching for the perfect summer read?

This summer, two very different takes on the Erie Canal will be available to readers in search of something showcasing their local landmarks.

Dr. David Beebe, of Camillus, spent the last 20 years conducting original research for his book, "Camillus, Halfway There," named for the town's designation as halfway between Albany and Buffalo.

"It's a different type of book," Beebe said. "There is some history in it, but it's not a history book - it's about how things work."

Beebe pointed out that in the area surrounding Camillus, every type of structure used for the canal can be found.

"It's remarkable what we have here," he said.

His research began more than 30 years ago, as he led the effort to restore the local section of the canal.

"We had to do a lot of research to make the canal functional in Camillus, and along the way I said, 'I'll put this all down so somebody can benefit in the future," recalled Beebe.

The end result is "Camillus," now available at the Sim's Store Museum at the Camillus Erie Canal Park.

His book, Beebe said, is a potpourri of different canal-related themes - from the origins of the canal park, to the machinery used to dig the canal, to humorous experiences Beebe had while researching the book, interjected throughout.

If it is an adventure story you crave, Towpath Tales authors Jack and Judith Woods have the answer: Towpath Mysteries, a historical fiction set mostly in the village of Jordan circa 1840, will be available in August.

The Woods, who currently reside in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, raised their four children in Central New York. Their mutual interest in the Erie Canal led to their writing their first novel, 'Towpath Adventures,' the story of a young boy sent to work as a mule driver with his uncle on the canal.

Their novels are available on their website, towpathales.com. The Woods will make an appearance at Erie Canal Village in Rome, NY, on July 26, and Erie Canal Park in Camillus on August 9.

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