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.

Experience the Byway

I swear every day on the Mohawk Towpath Byway is an experience.  Maybe that’s why I am so passionate about this volunteer position.

I walked into Fleet Feet, Albany with two things on my mind: to purchase a new pair of running shoes and to talk to the owners about sponsoring the Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon on October 19, 2014.  While Charles Woodruff combed his inventory to find the shoe to fit my running style he asked me to meet Deena Kastor.  Now for you less pedantic*, Deena Kastor could run the length of the designated Byway route, all 26.2 miles in less than 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Deena won an Olympic bronze in Athens in 2004.  Having a chance to chat with Deena was my Byway experience for the day.

Can we build a Byway experience for you?

I think we can!  Whether it is volunteering for a roadside cleanup, cutting back some brush to revel a centuries old limestone wall, listing to a narration on the cell phone based tour, or a formal Erie Canal Experience.  I hope you have more than 2 hours and 20 minutes for your Byway experience, but if you don’t I hope yours is authentic and memorable.

I hope to see you on the Byway.  Come and share your Mohawk Towpath Byway experience right here in our back yard.


* I like that word, because it has the the “prefix” of “ped” meaning “foot,” although the etymology of the word “pedantic” is entirely different.

Fish Free

Fishing near Ferry Drive, Clifton Park - Photo by Myla Kramer

Fishing near Ferry Drive, Clifton Park – Photo by Myla Kramer

Fish free from the Mohawk Towpath Byway the weekend of June 28 and 29, 2014.  During the last weekend in June you don’t need a license to fish New York’s waters. With the plethora of access points to the Mohawk River and its tributaries the Byway corridor is an excellent place to take advantage of this opportunity.

  • Try fishing for the first time.
  • Haven’t fished in a while? Remember the joy of catching a fish this weekend for free!
  • Take a friend fishing for the first time.
  • Have friend visiting from out of state?  Take them fishing as a novel way to show off the Byway.
  • Take a spouse or significant other fishing.
  • Take the family fishing…and don’t forget the grandparents.

There are several spots that provide good access for those who are physically challenged.  A nationally recognized access point is from Terminal Road in the Town of Halfmoon.  A paved trail leads under the Route 9 bridge for excellent fishing access in deeper waters of the Mohawk River.  There’s a less formal spot adjacent to the Route 146 bridge in Rexford.  Park along the south side of the Schenectady Yacht Club parking lot just off Route 146.  The paved ramp that parallels the approach to the bridge ends at a guide rail right at water’s edge.

Consult the Discovery Guide to the Mohawk Towpath Byway or clicking here for a map of popular places for people to fish.



Gateway Signs

When we accepted our Scenic Conservation Action Plan it was recognized that the Mohawk Towpath Byway doesn’t have a complete family of signs.

Historic Dunsbach Ferry site Interpretive sign

Historic Dunsbach Ferry site Interpretive sign as installed in the spring of 2009. Photo courtesy of Nelson Ronsvalle.

We do have 5 interpretive signs using a single template.  We have way finding signs that a visitor can follow from one end of the Byway to the other.

Way finding sign erected by NYSDOT in 2006.

Way finding sign erected by NYSDOT in 2006.

We also have some new signs for the self guided cell phone tour of a number of Byway features.

Cell Phone Tour Sign

Signs for the self guided cell phone based tour of our key features.

What we don’t have is a “standard” gateway sign among our municipal partners.







What we want to avoid is an over crowded roadside sign scape similar to the one entering Clifton Park on Crescent Road. This cluttered collection of signs greets the motorist at the end of the I-87 exit 8 south bound ramp.

DSCN0093A New York State sign standard effectively marks the town boundary, but does not carry a clue to the character of the community.  This sign is located at the Byway’s mid-point on Riverview Road at the Clifton Park – Halfmoon town line.  Halfmoon GatewayA more elegant gateway sign is one welcoming the visitor to the hamlet of Rexford.  The gold lettering on a darker colored background framed in gold colored appointments makes a statement about the community even in an early season snow storm.DSCN0095

Perhaps one of the more tasteful and descriptive signs is the gateway sign that stands where the Cohoes Crescent Road becomes North Mohawk Street in Cohoes.

Gateway sign for Cohoes.

Gateway sign for Cohoes.

This well proportioned sign incorporates a number of unique features including the Cohoes Falls and City Hall architecture. Seasonal accents add a touch of civic pride.

Do we need a “standard” gateway sign or should these signs remain individual and unique, defining the character of the municipality?  We are interested in your thoughts and feedback.  Please add your comments below.

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.