The Cohoes Falls is one of the key assets along the Mohawk Towpath Byway. It is the major element in any of the Byway’s layers of history whether Native American, early European trading ports or settlements, American revolution, industrial revolution or the westward expansion of the country.
Officials from Brookfield Renewable Power and the City of Cohoes joined local state, federal, county, and Byway representatives on August 21, 2008, for a ribbon cutting to unveil the new Falls View Park on the Mohawk River near Cohoes Falls. The four-acre Falls View Park is adjacent to Brookfield Renewable Power’s 38-megawatt School Street hydroelectric generating facility. The park offers a view of the scenic Cohoes Falls never before open to the public. It also marks a unique public/private collaboration between Brookfield Renewable Power, the City of Cohoes and the National Park Service’s Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor.
“With Falls View Park, visitors have an unobstructed view of the beautiful Cohoes Falls,
the second largest falls in New York State,” said John T. McDonald III, Mayor of the City of Cohoes and the ribbon cutting master of ceremonies. “The new park also serves as a historical link between the falls and Cohoes’ historic Harmony Mills district. We are pleased to be part of this milestone public/private collaboration between Brookfield Renewable Power and the Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor,” McDonald added.
No visit to the Mohawk Towpath Byway can be complete without a visit to this new park. A foot bridge now crosses a power canal, a successor to the original 1825 Erie Canal, to the remainder of Falls View Park. Across North Mohawk Street is the remaining stone work of Lock 18. This double lock is part of the 1842 enlarged Erie Canal and the upper feature of a series of 16 locks that raised boat traffic around the Falls.
The interpretive panels found in Falls View Park’s canal-side plaza, created by the
National Park Service, mark the first project this agency has undertaken on behalf of a private company. The signage highlights the historical, educational and geological significance of the Cohoes Falls, Mohawk River and other nearby points of interest.
“Falls View Park is a fantastic addition to the eastern gateway to the Erie Canal.
We’re thrilled that people will have the opportunity to see the stunning natural beauty and power of Cohoes Falls and learn about its history,” said Beth Sciumeca, executive director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, Waterford, New York. “From the rise of the region’s textile mills and the construction of the engineering marvel of the Waterford flight of locks — which enabled canal boats to bypass the 75-foot falls — to its use for waterpower, Cohoes Falls has played a pivotal role in the region’s history.”
Falls View Park was developed as part of Brookfield Renewable Power’s 40-year operating license for the School Street hydropower plant granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February 2007. “The license represents a diverse and comprehensive array of public interests, including increased, year-round flow over the Cohoes Falls and protection of fish and wildlife,” said Tom Uncher, general manager of Brookfield Renewable Power’s Hudson River Operations.
Visitors to Falls View Park can now enjoy a wide range of recreational and historical
- A two-bus, drop-off area and an informational kiosk along North Mohawk Street;
- A 192-foot-long pedestrian bridge spanning the School Street power canal from North Mohawk Street to the primary overlook area;
- Primary and secondary overlooks areas with view of the falls and access to nearby trails;
- Americans with Disability Act (ADA)-compliant facilities such as fishing platforms. These platforms are topped with IPÊ wood, a strong, dense wood, harvested only from naturally sustainable forests. This fire-resistant wood has very high wear durability in daily use, and is resistant to splintering and checking; and
- An 80-person amphitheater.
The carry in/carry out park will be open during daylight hours from May through October.
This new park addresses one of the issues raised early in the scenic conservation initiative being undertaken by the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition, Inc.
Parts of this post were taken from a press release issued on August 22, 2008, by the City of Cohoes, Mayor’s Office.