New York State Canal
On Friday, October 16, the sun shone brightly but the temperature was un-seasonally cool as 39 people came to the Hanson Quarry in Jamesville, NY for the early bird session of the Society’s fall tour. Gary Eno, superintendent of the quarry operations, guided the group through the immense quarry explaining facts such as how much material was removed.
The quarry had been used since the 1850s and was once owned by the Solvay Process Company for the mining of process rock. Only certain rock has the chemical composition needed for use in making soda ash and the rest was discarded into piles. When the Solvay Process Company moved its operations west, the quarry was used for aggregate. The piles of discarded material were being used as well as newly blasted rock. At 11am, we gathered outside the bus and at a very safe distance to watch a blasting of a rock face with 11,000 pounds of explosives. Gary then pulled out a box full of dummy explosives and explained how the blasting process worked. The group re-boarded the bus to finish the tour and see the large rock crusher and other plant operations.
The group then made a quick stop to see the Butternut Creek Aqueduct in Dewitt.
On Friday night, the group was given a pre-view of the trip by the organizers and a quick presentation of the Camillus Aqueduct history and reconstruction by Fenton Hanchett and David Beebe.
The forecast for Saturday was not promising, but the weather held. The 61 attendees started the tour with a quick bus ride to the Centerport Aqueduct in Weedsport. The Aqueduct is a fine example of small aqueduct construction, using piers instead of archwork to carry the towpath. The second stop was at the Old Brutus Historic Society on Rt 31 in Weedsport. The group was pleased to meet mural artist Dawn Jordan and tour the small but well stocked museum. Stop three was a tour of Lock 51, west of Jordan and then it was onto Stop 4, the Jordan Aqueduct, mural and park. Society President Tom Grasso gave a rendition of history, acting out the parts of the 1826 field trip where the students and Professors debated the question of, Is it limestone or sandstone?” The last stop of the morning was at the Carpenter’s Brook feeder and wasteweir, where the group learned about the use and disposal of feeder water.
After a hearty lunch at the Camillus Elks Club, the group moved onto a re-dedication of the Camillus Aqueduct historical marker the Society had purchased in 1999. Then it was onto the boats!
The group was broken up into three smaller groups who were then lead about the Park by volunteers. The highlight was a ride and walk over the Camillus / Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct. The Park also had the restored steam engine running, along with a Case steam traction engine. All the other displays were nicely displayed and interpreted by park docents. Then it was back to the hotel.
The evening started with the usual gathering and dinner. Then President Grasso had all the members of the Camillus Canal Park come forward. He surprised the group with a presentation of the Canal Society’s Achievement Award. The evening speaker was Andy Kitzmann, Program Manager for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. Andy spoke about early canal labor, quarry work and updated the group about the work of the Heritage Corridor folks.
The Sunday tour options were numerous, from a tour of Lock 50, to kayaking, to a walk in the old growth forest.