Byway Economic Benefits

A report by one of our sister byways has found that Travelers visiting the International Selkirk Loop spend nearly $5 million in their region.  This is a 280 mile byway that loops through the Selkirk Mountains of northeast Washington, northern Idaho and southeast British Columbia.

We have the tools to make a similar study of the economic impact of the Mohawk Towpath Byway in our area.  This would make an excellent project for a student of economics.  We are accumulating data and have been for several years.  What we do know is that over the last dozen years the Byway has captured over a million dollars in federal transportation enhancement and byways grants.  We also know from similar studies that every dollar spent on our self guided cell phone based tour* of significant features on the Byway has a ten fold economic return for our communities.

If you know of a group or academic who would be interested in studying the economic impacts please let me know.  Such study would be helpful in guiding future projects, marketing, and programs.

* Press 518-649-9990 on your smart phone to sample the tour.

Winter Preview

Black flies and mosquitoes have, thankfully disappeared, so outside activities can proceed with out those annoyances.  I encourage you to get out and enjoy and observe our Byway features and history now that the foliage is down.  Old foundations and cellar holes, pre historic sand dunes and other geology make for good photography with the sun angle so low in the sky. We should still remain vigilant for deer ticks, because they are still feeding and looking for warm places.

But to have insects displaced by snow flurries even in the warm part of the day is a bit premature.  Curt Schreiner, an even more avid cross country skier than me, says,

The weather is toying with us.

Is it mid winter or is it still fall? Maybe in another month we will be able to tell. In the meantime, all we can do is let Mother Nature take her fickle course, and dress accordingly for outside activities on the Mohawk Towpath Byway.

New Bald Eagle Nest

Bald Eagle nest west of the hamlet of Vischer Ferry - Photo by Terry Olmstead

Bald Eagle nest west of the hamlet of Vischer Ferry – Photo by Terry Olmstead

As many of our feathered friends are heading south for the season it is exciting to see new bird flight and feeding patterns. For several years there has been a nesting pair of eagles in the wooded area north of the Cohoes Falls. This fall there is a new nest in a field that can be seen from two distant public locations just west of the hamlet of Vischer Ferry.

As you head west on Riverview Road from Vischer Ferry the road turns in a northerly direction as the traveler passes up the hill toward Sugar Hill Road. As you pass an open field to the left you may spot a new eagle nest in a tree in the middle of the field. This nest is also visible from the Towpath Trail that goes west from the end of Ferry Drive.

Keep and eye and ear open for other birds that remain active. Harvest some of that decorative Asian Bitter Sweet red berries with the yellow shell. Yes, take it home for decoration before it goes to seed. It is quite invasive, so when the holiday season passes throw it in the trash or, better yet, burn it for an early season marshmallow roast in the spring.


I didn’t take a run yesterday.  Why?  It was raining.  To be precise it was 49 degrees, slight breeze, and less than a tenth of an inch of precipitation an hour.

My passion is cross country skiing.  I am in training for the coming Nordic ski season.  I have skied in worse conditions than that.  In fact one of my most memorable experiences was skiing on a miserable, cloudy day, gliding over firm packed powder snow with the temperature below 20 degrees F.  Along comes a huge eight point buck loping along beside me.  I have also skied in a blizzard in Sandwich, MA.

I didn’t have to do the 10 miles I had planned.  The rain was not freezing onto black pavement.  I have the clothing and protective garb for such conditions right in my locker.  In fact, I could have worn that new high tech long sleeve tee shirt that I got for volunteering at the duathlon on Sunday.  I would not have suffered frost bite.  I would have been fine, but I didn’t.  Now I am kicking myself out of bed and today I am going to do it.

Mother Nature had something to show me yesterday on the Mohawk Towpath Byway, and I didn’t take advantage.

New Venue For Duathlon

View of the Mohawk River from Riverview Orchards

View of the Mohawk River from the transition area at Riverview Orchards.

The Twelfth Annual Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon will be from a new venue this year.  The event scheduled for Sunday morning, October 19, will start at 8:30 AM with a two mile run from Riverview Orchards then transition to a seventeen mile bike ride at the orchard and finish with a two mile run to the finish.  Riverview Orchards is located at 660 Riverview Road, Rexford.

The courses are designed by our veteran participants Tracy Perry and Kristen Hislop who have experience in international multi-sport competition.  The run legs are a relatively flat out and back course and the bike ride is on rolling terrain with a loop that we have used before.  It’s all set within the historic context of the Erie Canal corridor and against the backdrop of colorful fall foliage.

This annual event attracts top local multi-sport athletes as well as recreational runners and bikers.  The first 100 athletes registered receive a high tech moisture wicking t-shirt and other goodies, and awards will be given to the top 3 finishers in each 10 year age group. In addition a gold medal is awarded to  each member of the winning men’s, woman’s, and mixed teams.

Timing is conducted by Finish Right Timing of Saratoga Springs.

Also new this year is a Giffy’s Bar-B-Q chicken dinner for all athletes preregistered by Saturday, October 11, as a post race feed!

“We are very excited about hosting this event at Riverview Orchards,” says Isabel Prescott, owner of Riverview Orchards.  “We have had many festivals, survived many seasons of apple-picking, hay rides and birthday parties, but this is the first time we have had an athletic event.  There will be a fun youth race through the orchards as kids pick apples.  We are looking forward to it.  The event will be first thing in the morning, and by afternoon the orchard will be back to business as usual.”

Proceeds from this event benefit the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition, Inc. a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that seeks to increase awareness, enjoyment and linkage of the wide variety of scenic, recreational and historic resources along the Mohawk River and Erie Canal corridor from Waterford to Schenectady.


General Store in Vischer FerryHave you seen what is going on mid Byway recently?  This charming building at the corner of Vischer Ferry Road and Riverview Road suffered a great deal of damage in a fire about a year ago.  The current owners have gutted the building and have started to reconstruct for use as a sandwich shop and deli.  Originally built in the early 1800’s as a general store, the building incorporates some striking Greek Revival features.

This will be an excellent example of how to maintain the character of the community, yet updating the building to meet a current need.

Peter Bardunias took this photograph about 2 years ago.  Currently all the windows and the front double door have been removed and made ready for replacement.  The facade is scrapped and being readied for repainting.  Watch the progress as this Byway landmark is restored.

Mohawk Gateway Canal Fest

It is unfortunate that we had to postpone the Mohawk Gateway Canal Festival to next year, August 8, 2015.  Mohawk Gateway Canal Fest logo

Looking forward to next year’s event we will be celebrating the Mohawk Towpath Byway’s tenth anniversary as one of America’s Byways©.  The Festival will take advantage of the permanent docking facility at the Maritime Center that will be complete by then, all activities will be handicapped accessible by then, and there will be more activities to appeal to our participants and their families.

The Capital Region Maritime Center develops and offers programs, services and other activities for youth and the general population related to education, history, recreation, travel and tourism, ecological and natural sciences and maritime occupations.  The facility is located on the banks of the Mohawk River in Alplaus with a commanding panorama of the Erie Canal and our maritime navigation corridor.

The Mohawk Towpath Byway is one of only 150 unique Byways and All American Roads across the country that present the story of the American culture and history. Described as a short Byway with a long history it provides residents and visitors a way to discover the many stories of the only water level route through the Appalachian Mountains.  Stories include the natural history, native people’s stories, early European influences, the Erie Canal, the role our communities played in the westward expansion of the country and Industrial Revolution and continues as a center of invention and innovation.

If you would like to be a part of the planning effort please join us for the next organizational committee meeting 7 PM on August 19 at the Maritime Center. If you have ideas for sponsors for the event please contact the Byway.