The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor spans 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York, encompassing the Erie, Cayuga Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain canals and their historic alignments, as well as more than 230 canal communities.
Last week, reader Katie Argus messaged us on Facebook to ask why the New York State Canal System was closing for the season Oct. 11, seemingly with no notice.
“My neighbors and I didn’t even know it was closing a month early,” Argus wrote.
Argus said she’d seen the announcement that the canal would close at 5 p.m. Oct. 11 on the NYS Canal Corporation’s Facebook page. She commented on the post that the state “did not do enough to inform the public.”
Argus wasn’t the only one confused by the Oct. 11 closing date. Five other Facebook users said the canal system was closing too soon. “The closing date is much too early — about 40 days earlier than the recent past,” Nate Leonard wrote.
Apparently, we all missed the memo, according to Steve Gosset, manager of media relations for the New York Power Authority, which assumed ownership of the Canal Corporation earlier this year. Gosset told the Messenger the canal system’s opening and closing dates were posted on canals.ny.gov March 21.
“The normal length of the season changed this year,” he said.
In a statement, Gosset added that the Canal Corporation saw a “steep decline in traffic” on the canals after Labor Day, with “minimal recreational boat traffic in October and November.”
The shortened season also allows for maintenance to take place before winter.
“Performing maintenance and construction work in the fall, before the cold weather, better ensures worker safety by lessening the exposure of canal employees and contract workers to snow and icy conditions,” Gosset said. “The early start also allows more effective use of heavy machinery and other tools that are hindered by operation in the winter. It will also make it easier to spot water seepage and other potential infrastructure problems that are more difficult to determine when snow and ice are on the ground.”
Gosset told the Messenger that the closing date of the canal system was “well publicized.”
– Ashley M. Casey
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.