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Duncan Hay speaking to visitors
The World Canal Conference of 2010 brought travelers from around the globe into Lyons yesterday where they were able to see canal operations first hand.  Visitors from Germany, the Netherlands, China, India, and the United Kingdom were led on a tour by Historian, Duncan Hay, of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor through Lyons' Dry Docks, area locks and downtown Lyons.

A personalized tour led by retired Section Supervisor, John Hatch, of the machine shop used to repair the vessels used by the New York State Canalway, showed a combination of new and older equipment adequately filling the block building located on Dry Dock Road in Lyons.  Aside from lack of funding, the older equipment that has not been replaced, still functions well at holding pieces that are thirty feet in length and eight inches in diameter.  This particular shop employs up to 70 employees, some of which are seasonal.

Section Supr., Dan Crane, Left
with John Hatch, Right
Mr. Hatch introduced new Section Supervisor, Dan Crane, and described his duties of overseeing 11 regional locks, various point lights and other responsibilities on neighboring Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.

A further tour of the grounds showed a pair of old lock gates that were planned to be refurbished along with Dipper Dredge No. 3.  In 2007, this dredge received its designation and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  This steam powered dredge has a hull measuring 110 feet in length and was used during the digging of the canal in 1918.  Though some of the parts of the dredge have been refurbished or replaced, much of the machinery and the engines were built in 1909.  The capability of this powerful steam dredge was not limited to anything but to what its cables could hold.

Lyons' Dry Docks
What is a Dry Dock?  A dry dock is used to repair canal boats.  Once the boat enters into the chamber, the water is drained from the area, allowing workers to work on the bottom of the boats.  Chittenango has received the 2010 Erie Canalway Heritage Award of Excellence for their restored dry dock.  For more information, check them out at http://www.eriecanalway.org/get-involved_awards_Chittenango10.htm

Though, the Erie Canal was initially built for commercial use, today it is primarily used for pleasure craft.  There is a small fee that is paid to to enter through the locks that is similar to what you would pay to use the NYS Thruway.  On average, this particular lock section accommodates two to three thousand boaters per season.  Other locks have a higher usage average.

JanPieter Janse, Project Manager, Netherlands
World Canal Conference 2011
One of the major concentrations of the World Canal Conference was to evaluate historical canal sites for interpretation potential of future restoration programs and funding.  Various travelers to the convention mentioned that canal use was a viable transportation resource in their countries that was economically sound and environmentally friendly.  With rising costs of petroleum and import fees to America, many manufacturers are looking to explore alternative sources of transporting goods.


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