In honor of the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal first opening in Montezuma, the Montezuma Historical Society is sponsoring a historic walking tour celebrating Montezuma’s important role in the development of the Erie Canal System that includes the Seneca River and remains of three early stages of canals telling its dynamic story from 1819 to today. Leading the tour will be Mike Riley, canal historian starting at 9 AM in Montezuma Heritage Park at the High Street Trailhead next to the firehouse in the hamlet of Montezuma off Route 90. Several sites will be visited including the remains of the original Clinton’s Ditch Lock 62, the famous Richmond Aqueduct, and paper mill.
Following the tour, a picnic lunch will be served. Entertainment will be performed by local music artist, Beverly Coleman-Sayles singing and playing acoustic/electric and bass guitar, with a variety of rock ’n roll, blues, country, gospel, and patriotic songs.
The first Clinton’s Ditch opened between the Seneca River and Rome in 1820. Montezuma became a busy terminus of the middle section and an important crossroads for canal, river, and stagecoaches. A boat line was formed between Montezuma and Rome before the Canal was actually completed in 1825. Beginning in 1819, two of the first boats were built in Montezuma, one for its namesake, The Montezuma, the other the Oneida Chief. According to newspaper accounts, the first attempt at using the canal occurred on December 1819, when a packet boat left the from Seneca River and was only able to travel at a rate of about two miles an hour within two feet of ice-capped water. The trip was halted in Jordan and the boat returned to Montezuma.
Please register for the event by calling 315-776-4656. A donation of $5 per person will be appreciated to help cover costs for the lunch.