Gillibrand backs effort for historic status for Barge Canal

Posted 15 September 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – The Glenwood Avenue canal bridge in Medina was constructed during the canal expansion a century ago. It’s one of many canal bridges and structures that remain from when the canal was widened to become the Barge Canal.

Press release
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is urging the National Park Service to place the Barge Canal on the National Register of Historic Places.

Including the Erie Canal, Oswego Canal, Champlain Canal and Cayuga-Seneca Canal, this designation would expand opportunities for federal historic tax credits and other resources, to support economic development initiatives near the Barge Canal.

“The Barge Canal is a historic treasure in New York State and includes some of America’s most recognized waterways,” Gillibrand said. “Spanning across the state, the New York State Barge Canal is home to many recreational activities and commercial developments. I will continue to work hard to ensure the National Park Service recognizes how important the Barge Canal is to New Yorkers and to ensure this much-deserved designation is granted.”

The Barge Canal spans more than 500 miles and includes the Erie Canal, the Oswego Canal, the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, and the Champlain Canal. The Erie Canal was established in 1825 and development of other canals soon followed.

The New York State Board of Historic Preservation nominated the canal as “The Barge Canal Historic District” for the state and national registers. The nomination notes many of the historical artifacts from the widening and deepening of the canal from 1905 to 1918. Orleans County has many of those features: lift bridges, single-truss bridges, guard gates, terminals and waste weirs.

According to a report by the New York State Canal Corporation, the Erie Canal’s non-tourism economic impact is more than $6.2 billion annually, supporting over 8,800 direct and 26,400 indirect jobs. The canal systems have shaped history in upstate New York, and created opportunities for economic developments throughout the state.

In her letter to National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “Listing the NYS Barge Canal in the National Register of Historic Places would be an exciting and appropriate action, further establishing the waterways’ stature and creating additional economic development opportunities for NYS residents and business owners. The NYS Barge Canal has had a great impact on the northeastern region since its construction. To this day, the canal remains widely visited by tourists and school groups who go to learn of the rich history associated with the waterway. National recognition of the Canal on the Register of Historic Places is important to the preservation and celebration of this national treasure.”