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Times of Wayne County

Two Adventurers and 500 Miles of Heritage along the Erie Canal and Hudson River

This May, the legacy of New York State’s Erie Canal and Hudson River will lure adventurers Richard Harpham and Glenn Charles to kayak an epic 500 miles from Buffalo’s Historic Erie Canal Harbor on May 1, 2012 to the Statue of Liberty at the end of the month.

New York State’s Division of Tourism, I LOVE NEW YORK, invited world-renowned kayaker, Richard Harpham, from the U.K. to make history while chronicling the dynamic locations along the Erie Canal and its 35 locks, before reaching Albany and joining the Hudson River. The trip continues south on the Hudson River to their iconic final destination — the Statue of Liberty.

The journey is called ‘New York State’s Spare Seat Kayak Expedition’ as both Harpham and Charles will kayak the route in double seated kayaks, inviting members of the public and media to join them along the way. The expedition is estimated to take about a month and will highlight the heritage, culture, wildlife, landmarks, and activities along the route. As passionate conservationists, Harpham and Charles will encourage locals and visitors to get involved in New York State’s preservation and ecological activities. The project will be photographed and filmed, and hosted on a dedicated website with social media feeds enabling the public to follow Harpham, Charles and all those that join them every stroke of the way.

PALMYRA – MAY 4th

On Friday May 4th the Spare Seat Kayakers will be welcomed to Palmyra at Lock 29 by the Erie Canal Pirates, www.eriecanalpirates.com who will present them with the official, iconic Erie Canal Pirate Kazoos (American made). After tying up at adjacent Aqueduct Park, the kayakers will tour the Aldrich Change Bridge, the only original Squire Whipple Change Bridge in existence. Bridge Builder Bob Daly will provide a brief history of the bridge and recount its rebuilding, principally with volunteer labor. Back on the canal, the kayaks will continue east to the Port of Palmyra Marina for a brown bag lunch at the park pavilion.

NEWARK – MAY 4

The Village of Newark is pleased to welcome the Spare Seat Kayakers and will host a private reception for them. Chris Davis, of the Arcadia Historical Society, has put together a great program of costumed live performers who will share Erie Canal and Village of Newark history during dinner. This event will offer a great opportunity for our guests to mingle with community members and hopefully have fond memories of the time they spent in Newark.

LYONS – MAY 5

The journey continues on May 5th as Village of Lyons welcomes Richard Harpham and Glenn Charles for breakfast before traveling onto Montezuma.
*Travel dates are subject to change and will be determined by weather and manpower.

“The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 was one of the most spectacular and transformative public works projects of its time, and would make New York the Empire State,” said Brian U. Stratton, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation. “On behalf of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Canal Corporation, I welcome Richard Harpham and look forward to paddling with him on a segment of the Spare Seat Tour.”

“By bringing in a world-class kayaker and adventure photographer to explore New York State’s Erie Canal and Hudson River, we can to showcase New York State’s assets in an extraordinary way,” said Edward Maitino, managing director, tourism for Empire State Development of New York State. “The Spare Seat Kayak Expedition also shines a spotlight on the more than 230 communities that span the Erie Canal and upstate New York.”

“New York’s waterways have always connected our communities but they are also the common threads that connect us to our rich history,” said Mark Castiglione, acting Director for the Hudson River Valley Greenway. “Today, our historic waterways are renowned destinations for recreation and eco-tourism. We are excited that this initiative will highlight the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail and promote all the historic river towns and heritage destinations throughout the Hudson River Valley.”

The Erie Canal was originally built as a major commercial waterway which shaped the development of the Empire State and secured New York City’s status as America’s premier seaport, commercial center and gateway to the interior of the continent. The Hudson River was also strategically important as a gateway to the American interior. Together they tell the story of the expansion of America and the growth of trade in North America. Today, in addition to continuing to attract commercial use, the Erie Canal is a recreational resource and tourism destination, while the Hudson River offers environmental and conservation experiences as well as historic, cultural and recreational opportunities for enjoyment.

“Richard and Glen will be travelling much of the same route as Governor Dewitt Clinton in 1825, when he journeyed from Buffalo to Albany to New York City via the newly opened Erie Canal and the Hudson River. The Spare Seat Voyage will demonstrate how the canal that created the Empire State nearly 200 years ago now offers world-class recreational opportunities,” said Beth Sciumeca, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to cheer on the expeditioners and take advantage of the many events taking place along the route. Harpham and Charles will meet the communities, host talks, coach about kayaking and attend community generated events to promote local efforts to enjoy and protect New York state waterways. Experience the rich history, hometown hospitality, and numerous attractions of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and Hudson River Valley Greenway. To explore and experience the Erie Canal or the Hudson River visit: http://www.eriecanalway.org/ , http://www.hudsongreenway.ny.gov, or http://www.canals.ny.gov. For information on the NYS Canalway Water Trail visit: http://www.canals.ny.gov/exvac/watertrail.html.

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