County Secures $650,000 in State Grants to Stabilize Historic Site over the Erie Canal
(FONDA, NY) – A local engineering marvel, constructed over 175 years ago, the Schoharie Crossing Aqueduct, will soon see major investments from the State of New York and Montgomery County to help preserve this National Historic Landmark for generations to come.
Located near the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, the recently completed Empire State Trail Bike Path and other Montgomery County tourist destinations, the Schoharie Crossing Historic Site is a popular destination for kayakers, bikers and other recreational tourists. Unfortunately, the historic structure has borne the ravages of time and weather, requiring significant structural preservation work. Now, thanks to a $600,000 Environmental Protection Fund grant from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and a $50,000 Canalway Grant from the New York State Canal Corporation, the site will undergo stabilization work to preserve and revitalize the structure for potential future use.
“Schoharie Crossing Historic Site is a local treasure and these resources will ensure it doesn’t become a part of our past, but remains a towering symbol of the deep connection between the Mohawk River and our communities. Preserving this site is just another way we are enhancing the quality of life for residents, tourists and newcomers. The project also compliments recent investments we’ve made to complete the Empire State Trail and our overall efforts to showcase Montgomery’s many cultural, historic and economic opportunities,” said Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort.
The 634-foot-long aqueduct, completed in 1842, consisting of 13 piers and 14 arches was originally constructed as part of the original Erie Canal system to support a tow path and timber trunk. After being decommissioned, the structure fell into disrepair and suffered a series of collapses beginning in the 1940’s. Efforts were finally undertaken to stabilize the arches using steel tendons in 1977. Those efforts were compromised in 1998 and resulted in additional collapses.
In 2018, the Aqueduct was named by the Preservation League of New York State as one its “Seven to Save” sites.
“We know people, especially young people entering the workforce, are looking for opportunities in places where they can have an affordable cost of living, a good quality of life and easy access to recreational opportunities. Creating that kind of environment has been a driving force behind our efforts, so employers and workers appreciate the broad benefits of Montgomery County. This investment at the Schoharie Crossing Aqueduct is another project that makes Montgomery County an even more attractive place to live, work and grow a business,” said Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Ken Rose, whose office applied for and was awarded the grant on behalf of Montgomery County.
Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said, “Whether it’s kayaking on the water, cycling the Empire State Trail or learning about the history of the Erie Canal, Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site is a vital recreational and cultural asset. The support for this revitalization project helps honor the site’s historical impact and encourages future generations to explore the history of their local communities.”
New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “The Schoharie Crossing Aqueduct is one of the most recognizable pieces of infrastructure from the Enlarged Erie Canal era. This initiative to stabilize and preserve the aqueduct ensures future generations the opportunity to experience firsthand how the Canal system shaped the history of not only Montgomery County and the State of New York, but also our country.”
Preservation League of New York State President Jay DiLorenzo said, “The Schoharie Aqueduct reminds us all, of the tenacity of the laborers, craftsmen, engineers and entrepreneurs who worked to expand the Erie Canal at a time when it was essential to the development of New York State and the Nation. This National Historic Landmark began its first chapter 175 years ago when it transported canal traffic over the Schoharie Creek. With this investment it will once again bring visitors to New York State, providing new opportunities for tourism, recreation, and education.”
“Saving the Schoharie Aqueduct requires the same vision, determination, and hard work that it took to build it in 1842. We are thrilled to be tapping the can-do spirit of the canal as we envision a better future for this engineering marvel,” said Bob Radliff, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.
The State of New York has also applied for a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures program. The program provides preservation and/or conservation assistance to nationally significant historic properties and collections. Awardees are expected to be announced later this Spring.