15 Miles on the Erie Canal, Part 2
Monday, August 7 at 8 p.m. – 15 Miles on the Erie Canal, Part 2
WXXI is proud to present part 2 of its documentary highlighting the Erie Canal. 15 Miles on the Erie Canal, Part 2, airing Monday, August 7 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11), picks up where Part 1 left off at the Genesee River and travels to Lockport. Part 1 focused on Palmyra to the Genesee River, the very busy and often highly developed stretch of largely original Erie Canal. Part 2 begins at the river where people in kayaks and canoes set out from the Genesee Waterways Center on a charity paddle. On the same day, a gathering of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans paddle competitively in Hawaiian war canoes. And the film crew boards the Mary Jemison for both an unparalleled view of the city and a hint of what the area looked like before Europeans arrived.
As the documentary heads west on the canal from the river, Olmsted bridges, a series of beautiful arches that frame the place where the canal goes through Genesee Valley Park are highlighted. From there, the deep rock cut that marks where the Barge Canal was routed in the early part of the 20th century begins. We take that journey aboard the Sam Patch, the original boat making canal and river journeys since the early 1990s. When that route finally rejoins the Erie Canal route in western Rochester and Greece, it heads west again through parks and back yards and the little known but curiously named Henpeck Park. In Greece is where we meet Keith Kroon, president of the Canalway Trails Association of New York and one of the key people in the now annual bike trek that starts in Buffalo and goes 400+ miles (at 45-65 miles a day) to Albany.
The production heads west again to Spencerport and Brockport, talking to people along the way who are passionate about the canal for many reasons. Such as Ross Gates who owns two restaurants on the canal, former Brockport mayor Jo Matela who now runs the Red Bird Tea Shoppe next to the canal and realtor Douglas Burkhardt whose front lawn on the canal is no stranger to cross country bikers camping while passing through town. In addition to providing a journey on his boat from his house to Albion, Burkhardt also shares his vision for some day making it possible to go from the canal to the Genesee River all the way to Lake Ontario.
15 Miles on the Erie Canal, Part 2 ends its travels at the very end of the canal in Lockport, which like much of Western New York, is finding it necessary to switch from an industrial based economy to one of service and tourism. Because of that, it has rediscovered the reason for its very birth: the Erie Canal. There, viewers meet Gasport artist Kathleen Giles whose watercolors of the canal are in high demand and Michael Murphy, arguably the first person to see that a canal cruise business made financial sense. His Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises started with one boat in 1987, and is now several boats and dozens of employees.