Intrinsic Qualities

QualitiesWhat’s a scenic byway? …a road less traveled? “…a road or track not following a main route; a minor road or path.” Spring time is as good a time as any to reflect on what makes a byway.

All national scenic byways have at least one of the six intrinsic qualities: archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic. I think you will agree that the Mohawk Towpath Byway is rich with each one of these qualities and I would like to share share the thoughts, ideas, and suggestions that went into our Corridor Management Plan.  It was put together by our “Advocacy Committee” under the guidance of the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor nearly two decades ago.

Let us look at each of these qualities, each with it’s own entry, and see if they are still as relevant today as they were twenty years ago. Your comments, ideas, and perspective would be greatly appreciated!

Natural Intrinsic Qualities – see https://wp.me/p8Z8Z1-RB

Tip o’ the Tam

ShamrockHere’s a tip o’ the tam to all those who can trace their ancestry to the Irish labor force who built the Erie Canal. There were certainly other immigrant groups including Germans and and Brits who contributed to the project – the only water level route through the Appalachian Mountains. But Irish workers were the largest, most significant group working for 37 to 50 cents a day (and maybe a ration of whiskey).

These hard working individuals learned construction techniques along side the early engineers. Before the age of steam engines principal tools were the pick and shovel. These people found efficient methods and fashioned new tools many of which still play a role today like the wheel barrow and stump puller.

“Not only did the Irish lend their unique hard work ethic to the canal, they also put their stamp on it in many other ways, including “canal songs” that they wrote, fashioned after popular Irish tunes, with new words to fit the environment. And of course, they settled in towns all along the canal route, seen in the architecture of buildings, reminiscent of Ireland.” – Maryann Tracy.

A special salute to all our volunteers with even a bit of Irish still working to tell the spirited stories and pass along our heritage along the Mohawk Towpath Byway.

Water is Rising

As of 7:00 PM on February 22, 2018 the ice jam is building just upstream from the I-87 Northway Bridges …Thaddeus Kosciuszko Bridge over the Mohawk River.  Water is over the Clutes Dry Dock Parking lot and this eastern entrance to the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.  The water is over the trails not too far from the Main Whipple Bridge Entrance to the Vischer Ferry Preserve.  Use caution when traveling the Byway along Riverview Road between Boyack Road west to the Hamlet of Vischer Ferry.  Don’t drive through any standing or flowing waters.

I will post and up date in the morning.

Native People’s History

The Friends of the Byway had a most memorable meeting with Stephanie
Bandosik of Foxy Trot Dance. Two take-aways: There is no doubt that The Peacemaker, who unified the Iroquois Confederacy, was tested at Cohoes Falls and the so-called Mohawk haircut says “I am not myself” and “I have lost my connection with The Creator, but there is hope.”
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Stephanie Bandosik telling the oral histories of the Mohawk Valley.  Photo by Richard Yacco.

The name “Mohawk” comes from Algonquin-speaking neighbors (then enemies) of the Kenien’ke:ha who called them a pejorative term loosely translated to “bear people” which the Dutch misheard as Mohawk. Known for their fierceness, The Peacemaker decided to approach the Mohawk with his ideas first. In those days one did not walk into a neighboring village. You stayed at a distance and built a smokey fire. The village would send out a runner to investigate. The visitor would only enter the village after being invited. The Peacemaker, according to Mohawk history, was tested by surviving a trip or a plunge over the Cohoes Falls.

Native American Traditions

February is Story Telling month among the Friends of the Mohawk Towpath Byway!  For our February 13 meeting we have a guest speaker bringing Native American stories from the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse) tradition.  Stephanie Fox will provide us with stories and traditions from the eastern Mohawk Valley including the significance of the Cohoes Falls and some of the other natural features along the area we affectionately call the Mohawk Towpath Byway corridor.
Join us for what promises to be a very informative evening, Tuesday, February 13 at 7 PM at the historic Grooms Tavern.

Flag of the Iroquois Confederacy, Hiawatha Belt from Wikipedia

Flag of the Iroquois Confederacy, Hiawatha Belt from Wikipedia

Family Moonlight Ski

We have a Family Moonlight Ski scheduled for Thursday, January 25 at 7 PM at the main entrance to the Vischer Ferry Preserve.  Unfortunately we also have a half inch of rain predicted between now and Wednesday and not much snow following the storm as temperatures fall.  We will make a decision during the day on Wednesday whether to postpone until the next magical Thursday before the full moon.

Moonlight Ski Canceled

Even though we have sufficient snow the Family Moonlight Ski scheduled for December 28 in the Vischer Ferry Preserve in cancelled due to the polar conditions.  Please go skiing during the day when it is warmer, but make sure if you go alone that you let someone know where you are and when to expect you back.

WeatherReadyNationRemember the old Norse saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”

Holiday Party

HolidaySwag

You are cordially invited to the

Friends of the Mohawk Towpath Byway

ANNUAL HOLIDAY 

JINGLE AND MINGLE

Re-Scheduled to JANUARY 9, 2018 due to weather!

DOOR PRIZES, DESSERTS, RAFFLES

Historic Grooms Tavern

Corner of Sugar Hill Rd and Grooms Road

Our guest speaker will be Frank Berlin, retired educator and naturalist and member of the Clifton Park Open Space Committee. He will talk about beaver control, watering the canal, where the eagles came from, where our Byway visitors come from and other factoids of interest.  Need more information?

Byway on the Move

2017Start

DUATHLON START – photo by Kristen Hislop

Thank you all for a most successful Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon!  Some 110 competitors started a 2 mile run followed by a 17 mile biking leg and another 2 mile run to finish.

I am no economist but this event brought in over $11,000 which was all spent locally [except $285 of Sanction and Insurance Fees to a National Governing Body in Colorado].  Every other dollar went to local suppliers, businesses, and contractors here on the Byway, or in the southern Saratoga County area.  That doesn’t include what competitors or their families spent for conveniences, gifts and remembrances, and fuel for the trip home.

During the week before the Duathlon the hits on the website peaked at four times the traffic we normally see for our Byway websites.  The calls to our cell phone based self-guided tour were overshadowed only by the number of calls over the first week of July when we were running spots on local public radio.

No matter how you slice or dice the numbers your help with the Duathlon pays us back many times over.  It reaches a demographic whom we don’t see any other time of the year, at least not in these numbers.

Whether you helped with circulating Byway information, stuffed envelops, helped with registration, volunteered with a traffic flag, scooped mashed potatoes and dished chicken, followed in the sweep car, passed out water, monitored the radio waves, or any other volunteer job… your contribution to the success of the Duathlon and ultimately to the Byway are very much appreciated!

…and the Weather

NOAAOpenHouseAs the Byway’s self appointed Weather Ready Nation Ambassador, my wife, oldest grandson and I had the privilege of visiting the new NOAA weather center in Albany today.  Even though they were preoccupied with the approaching storm they did offer some insight on what they expect this winter.  Keep in mind that the National Weather Service’s definition of winter is for the calendar season, December 21 to March 20, while you and I know it can snow anytime between now and the end of April.  In fact, before we left they were  looking at the possibility of snow on the back end of the approaching storm as precipitation is ending in the Tug Hill and western Adirondacks.NOAA

…a ‘normal’ winter, ‘like last winter’

The team of meteorologists all seemed to agree that this will be a “normal” winter, “like last winter” at least here in the Albany area.  There will be “normal” amounts of precipitation  and “normal” temperatures.  Further they point out that Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are warmer than normal right now, meaning enhanced lake effect precipitation most noticeable in the Tug Hill, northern Adirondacks and St Lawrence Valley.  They would not make any prediction on the amount of snow other than to say that “normal” winter average temperature is about 27o.  You and I know that temperatures are consistently one or two degrees cooler north of the Mohawk than they are in Albany (specifically at SUNY-IT).  They added that “normally” we are more likely to have snow early in the season and late in the season.

Will this coming storm shepherd in colder weather?  No, it will probably not result in a dramatic drop in temperatures, but more “normal” temperatures will follow.  This is likely to go into the record books as the 5th warmest October on record.  Will we have a Family Moonlight Ski in the Vischer Ferry Preserve on December 28?  Ask me on Boxing Day.  In the meantime watch for flash flooding Sunday night into Monday in low lying areas and the likelihood of high winds as the storm moves out on Monday.

The National Weather Service team also promised an update on the winter outlook on November 16.  Another teaser:  two of the younger members of the team promised to publish a video of a weather balloon launch on Youtube.  They launch a weather balloon  from the roof of the building at SUNY-IT twice daily, more often if needed.

If you ever get an invitation to visit a National Weather Service office, take them up on it!  You don’t have to be a weather geek to really appreciate the opportunity.