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It occurred to me that Palmyra, and probably every town, city and village along the canals (note the plural form ), has volunteers whose efforts within their the communities are invaluable. In our case, two of the many who work tirelessly to promote the village are gentlemen in their early 80’s who have been involved in multiple ways for more years than most can count. They have different personalities, skills and interests and have worked in different areas, but people who don’t know them often cannot distinguish one from the other as they are identical twins. We bless them both and their families who support them in their endeavors.

In addition to our wonderful local volunteers there exist in New York State a number of organizations and agencies working, on a broader level, on behalf of the canal communities – their businesses, not-for- profits and boaters – within the Canal Corridor. Someone not familiar with them may have difficulty in telling one from another, as with our identical twins, because their names are so similar. Please consider what follows as what used to be called a ‘Reader’s Digest’ ( or Cliff Notes, if you prefer ) overview of who they are and what they do for all of us.

The website for the NYS Canal Corporation pretty much tells it all. The Canal Corporation, overseen by the NYS Thruway Authority, is the government entity which owns, mans, maintains and runs the canals within the state. Without them, none of the other great things could occur. Besides these activities, however, the Canal Corporation website is a resource for information on the status of the canals themselves, the canal trails, and the history of the waterways. Maps and information about events within the Canal Corridor ( 600+ in 2012 ) are also available.

The Canal Society of New York State , founded in 1956, has an active state-wide membership whose focus is the study of canal history. Annual Field Trips to examine canal artifacts and to learn of their impact on the regional and state history are organized. The Canal Society sponsors the NYS Canal Conference and recent grant awards have moved the Society’s Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park project forward. When completed this site, at Lock 52 in Cayuga County andaccessible from the NYS Thruway, will provide a permanent home for the Canal Society and an invaluable asset to canal history.

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor (ECNHC) , is a government. agency, a subset of the National Park Service, US Department of the Interior. Commissioners, representing all Congressional Districts within the Canal Corridor, work with the newly formed sister agency, the Erie Canalway Heritage Fund, to “Preserve and Share our Extraordinary Canal Heritage, Promote the Corridor as a World Class Tourism Experience, and Foster Vibrant Communities Connected by the Waterway”. You have seen evidence of these efforts on the Thruway and highway in the brown Erie Canal Corridor signs and the wayfaring interpretive signage at canal sites. The ECNHC Award of Excellence competition is coming to a close with 3 qualifying projects having reached the final stage. Outstanding projects in Bushnell’s Basin, Lyons and Macedon have made the jury’s decisions difficult.

Both the Canal Corporation and ECNHC are government entities. The Canal Society is a 501c3, a private foundation, but Canal NY Marketing and Business Alliance, is a business. Less than a decade old, Canal NY was founded to fill the gap which the foundations and government agencies could not. It was the last piece of the puzzle among the canal related organizations. Canal NY represents its individual members, businesses and communities within the Canal Corridor across the state. Working in partnership with the Canal Corporation, the Canal Society and the ECNHC, Canal NY has enabled its membership to have a presence at trade shows and events regionally, nationally, and internationally, An annual press luncheon in Manhattan takes the canal businesses and communities to New York, a gateway for foreign visitors . A new collaboration this year has resulted in the canals being a focus of Amtrak’s America by Rail magazine. For more information about any of these organizations, check their websites. I have just skimmed the top of what is happening along the 500+ miles of our canals. Note that wording in quotes is taken from the relevant website.

Back on the local level, the Village of Palmyra has an invitation for you. Serious thought is being given to the creation of a volunteer Harbor Host Corps for the Port of Palmyra Marina and adjacent Canal Trail. If you like to meet new people and brag, just a bit, about your hometown, you would make an ideal Harbor Host. Duties would consist of answering questions about the community and its history and providing directions. Maps and an annually updated FAQ booklet (Frequently Asked Questions ) are already in use. The time schedule would be crafted to suit each volunteer’s personal schedule. Other details will be worked out in collaboration with volunteers. Interested? Contact the Village Hall, 315-597-4849 or at vpalmyra@yahoo.com ( put Harbor Host on subject line ) and leave your name and contact information. We will get back to you. I’d love to have you be part of this.


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