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SUBMITTED by Carol May, President of Trail Works, Inc. (11-July-2009)

The year after Lyons celebrated its Bicentennial (Lyons was founded in 1789) Patty Alena, Lyons Historian, founded Lyons Peppermint Days, a celebration of the town’s heritage and the role that the canal and peppermint oil had played in the town’s development. The Historic Walking tour of the Village of Lyons is featured in Trail Works and Wegmans Passport to Wayne County Trails. On Saturday, July 11, 2009, eight people were fascinated by the commentary that Patty provided as we walked the streets of downtown Lyons. We learned that the town’s name was changed to Lyons because of the similarities this town at the confluence of the Clyde River and the Canandaigua Outlet had to Lyon, France. We learned of the Hotchkiss Peppermint Industry and the canal’s role in promoting it. We found out that at one time the fields of Wayne County were full of peppermint and over 100 stills processed the oil that would flavor our sweet treats and provide medicinal benefits. Much of this valuable medal-winning oil, selling for $5 a bottle in the 1800’s, was shipped overseas. Its fame had people asking for it by name – a bottle of “Hotchkiss” please!

One highlight of the walk for many of us was a tour through the newly renovated Ohmann Theatre. The theater, established in 1915, is reopened with first-run movies on the weekends and a classic series running every other Thursday evening. Check out their schedule at ohmanntheatre.com.

Along the way, we got to view the six murals that explain and preserve the history of this area. These beautiful murals are the brainchild of Mark DeCracker who gave us more background as we stood in awe of this Art in Public Space. As we headed to the end of our walking tour at the Hotchkiss building, we passed through Dobbins Park and the mural celebrating the peppermint industry and the canal. This park has a wonderful labeled peppermint garden inviting us to smell and touch the many varieties. We also passed by a mural work-in-progress that had been part of the parade the night before with artists actually painting on the mural as the wagon rode down the parade route.

Before today’s hike, my travels in Lyons had been limited to the Motor Vehicle Bureau. Today’s hike has opened my eyes to the rich heritage so close to home. Membership information and schedule of Trail Works sponsored events is available at trailworks.org.



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