Apple Blossom Festival

AppleBlossomsCome join the fun at the First Annual Apple Blossom Festival at Riverview Orchards, 660 Riverview Road, in Rexford, NY on Saturday April 26, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  The event will kick off with a Canal Clean Sweep pick up at Mohawk Landing park next door and down to the River/Erie Canal.  Commemorative  tee shirts, trash bags and rubber gloves will be provided.  The Apple Blossom Festival will continue with Kite Flying & Decorating, Ice Cream Eating Contest, Scotia Glenville Traveling Museum: Life on the Erie Canal, Crafts & Seed Planting for the Kids, Wildflower Walk at Mohawk Landing Nature Preserve, Beekeeper’s Presentation including Cooking with Honey – Nature’s Natural Sweetener, singing, storytelling, antique vehicles, Giant Bubbles, Com Hole Tournament and lots more entertainment for the whole family.  Download a complete or mostly complete list of activities here… Apple%20Blossom%20Festival%20Poster%20pdf-1

I hope to see you and your whole extended family there!

Your event hosts will be the Mohawk Towpath Byway, Shenendehowa Rotary and Riverview Orchards.

Principals of Scenic Conservation

It is refreshing to have our Scenic Conservation Action Plan complete and available.  We encourage each of our member municipalities to endorse this plan.  During this endorsement process we reflect on the beginning of the process seven years ago with the Americas Byways Resource Center and Scenic America.  The two organizations partnered with the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition and N Y State Department of Transportation to host a workshop in Schenectady in June 2007.

During that workshop seven basic principals of Scenic Conservation were outlined:

  1. Retain the distinctive character of our communities and countryside by rebuilding older cities, towns and suburbs as beautiful places in which to live and work; and conserve agricultural land and open space.
  2. Foster new development that respects the special character of places as defined by their distinctive geographical features, cultures, climate and natural systems.
  3. Encourage a balance of regulatory and market approaches to protect scenic resources including rewarding land stewardship by property owners, local governments and corporations; and providing disincentives for practices that destroy scenic values.
  4. Design a national transportation system that respects aesthetic values as well as economic and energy efficiency, social equity, and environmental qualities.
  5. Prevent mass marketing and outdoor advertising from intruding on the landscape or community appearance.
  6. Teach young people to value the visual environment and to create and respect places of beauty.
  7. Actively engage business, industry, civic and professional organizations in the movement for a more scenic America.

For more details and examples click here or refer to your copy of Conserving Our Treasured Places: Managing Visual Quality on Scenic Byways.

Byway Summit

The long waited and long planned for Mohawk Towpath Byway Summit was held Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the Century House in Latham.

SummitThe Annual Report for 2013 was available and distributed at sign in.  The State of the Byway message drew much of the content from the Annual report.  John Scherer summarized the heritage areas and the historic neighborhoods noting the character of each of the communities.  Peter Bardunias and Deb Rausch discussed the significance and impacts on our local economy.  Luncheon buffet by the Century House was elegant with hot and cold entrées offered.

CongressmanTonkoCongressman Paul Tonko included encouraging and inspirational comments in his keynote address and introduced the concept of community esteem.  Our communities’ rising esteem makes it easy to provide a memorable visitor experience.

The afternoon sessions encouraged our municipal partners to endorse the Scenic Conservation Action Plan.  A motion was made and seconded to bring the Village of Scotia and Town of Glenville into the Byway Corridor.  The afternoon was wrapped up with a facilitated session with participants offering suggestions on what can the Byway do for your community and what is happening in your local community that can help the Byway as  we work toward our goal of a regional and world class tourist destination.

Thank you to all of you who participated in the Summit and contributed to its success.

The Byway Experience

Mohawk Valley West from Rexford

Mohawk Towpath Byway


…to be recognized and valued worldwide for our distinctive experiences, stories and treasured places.

This is a lofty vision.  It comes from the vision statement of the National Scenic Byways Foundation.  It comes with a challenge, a challenge that we can accept.  Who can better tell the story of the Erie Canal, the waterway west, the role our communities played in the westward expansion of the country and in the Industrial Revolution?  We also have additional stories that add depth to our unique story: natural history, native peoples, old military crossings, early agrarian life,  family heritage, and more.

Add to this the recreational opportunities that abound in the corridor and we have a unique place to be proud of.

What is your story, and how does it fit in the Byway experience?

Winter on the Byway

High school hockey alumni on Erie Canal ice.

High school hockey alumni on Erie Canal ice.

It was good to see so many out today enjoying a beautiful morning on the Byway, at best the recreational resources around the heart of the Byway: the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.  There were at least a dozen skiers, several runners, a few couples on snow shoes, several dogs on leashes, and a most exuberant group of high school hockey graduates on the ice near the Whipple Bridge entrance to the Preserve.

Winter Recreation.

Winter recreation on the Old Town Road, Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.

And what was I doing?  The Town of Clifton Park lent me an electronic mapping computer unit which includes a GPS and a PC.  The computer plots a map… a line drawing of where I pass.  Today I was on cross country skis.  With help from the town we will be able to map the trails within the Preserve with sufficient accuracy that the map can be used for search and rescue by the Vischer Ferry Fire Department and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Good trail maps will also be available to some of our user groups including the Empire Orienteering Club, Shenendehowa Nordic Club, Volks-sports groups, bird watchers and other outdoors enthusiasts.

It is also hoped the the map will be used for existing conditions and planning for the trail and recreational improvements that will be constructed in the next few years.

Fall Full Moons

Remnants of a beaver hut within the 1825 canal.  Riverview Road is in the background.

Remnants of a beaver hut within the 1825 Erie Canal. Riverview Road is in the background.

A rising full moon on the Mohawk Towpath Byway provides a spectacular picture in our unique landscape.

Native peoples referred to the November full moon as the beaver moon, because this time of year finds beavers quite active storing food and refreshing dams to keep water levels constant during the winter months when the water surface is frozen.  Normally, if you see the full moon in November the weather is favorable for lots of radiational cooling during the night and early morning hours.  This might be the first time in the year that you will see ice forming on a still water surface.  Historically, this is the time of year that Erie Canal traffic was most business like, as barge captains were trying to get one more haul in before the waterway froze in.  This year we have experienced colder temperatures already, with frost in the ground and films of ice on the ponds.  The Erie Canal system is now closed to traffic and the only water traffic is the N Y State Canal Corporation crews collecting the navigational bouys so they will not be swept away by annual flooding during the spring thaw.

Look for beavers in the Vischer Ferry Preserve.  They have changed the landscape in the flood plain as much as the State of New York did in the 1950s when they were trying to improve the biome to be more favorable for duck habitat.

Next month will see the long night moon, understandable, since this is close to the winter solstice.  With a bit of help from Mother Nature we will have a first of the season family moonlight ski December  12, the Thursday before the full moon.

Byway Buzzing This Fall

Fall is a great time to visit the Byway.  It’s the time of the year when we have the kids back in school, get back into the daily routines, but the weather is warm enough that we can still enjoy outside activities.  It’s also a time that all of our communities complete their projects, do the roadside cleanups, offer neighborhood garage sales, and host memorable weekend festivals.

The Waterford Tugboat Roundup – where maritime history comes alive.

The Waterford Tugboat Roundup – where maritime history comes alive.

The first one is Waterford’s Tugboat Roundup the first weekend after Labor Day (September 6 – 8).  For one weekend each year, tugs new and old moor stem to stern for adulation and education, enchanting the young and reminding the young at heart of days gone by.  In addition to tours of the vessels and other displays, there is an ample supply of music, food, children’s activities, vendors, boat rides, fireworks, and family fun.

Clifton Park Farm Fest - Discover our Agricultural Heritage

Clifton Park Farm Fest – Discover our Agricultural Heritage

Clifton Park Farm Fest (September 21 and 22) is a weekend of fun for the whole family, including farm tours, apple picking, hayrides, demos, animals, horse rides, country food and music and more! The Clifton Park farm festival is a drive-it-yourself (or bike) tour, where you and your kids will love getting an inside look at the animals and farm equipment. Hungry? Many of the farms will offer food and snacks made on site. If you are hungry for a full meal, visit one of four local community outlets, offering you delicious homemade breakfast and lunch options.  Call 518-371-6667 for details.

Halfmoon will be celebrating their Fall Festival on September 21 from 1 to 5 PM.  The event is a 225th Anniversary Celebration that kicks off with a parade at 1 PM.   will

Stockade Walkabout - private homes and several historic spaces

Stockade Walkabout – private homes and several historic spaces

The Stockade Association is doing their Walkabout again this year after a year’s hiatus.  Visit the oldest residential neighborhood in the US, with more than 40 pre-Revolutionary War houses, elegant and ancient churches and what has been called the most beautiful riverside park in America.  Several homes will be open for the tour.  Tickets on the day of the event are $25, advance tickets are $20.

Then there’s the Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon on October 20, an athletic event that provides a unique way to experience the Byway.

ExperimntlSign7This Fall there is something new: an audio tour of special places on the Mohawk Towpath Byway.  Stop into your favorite feature on the Byway.  Look for the audio tour sign with the QR code.  Scan the code and explore.  If you have an old flip phone like mine just dial 518-649-9990 and follow the prompts.

Call it a “staycation” or just an afternoon escape, discover the Mohawk Towpath Byway this week right here in your backyard!