Some fantastic promotional suggestions came out of the New York State Canal Conference in Schenectady this past summer. These are aimed at reaching a demographic that the Byway has not thought of previously and using partnerships that we have not taken advantage of previously. I have to note that one membership of the Friends of the Mohawk Towpath Byway is a parent of a Siena College student who combines a visit to the Byway when visiting his favorite college student.
We also have a very resourceful connection with the geology department at Union College. Dr. John Garver’s specialty is hydrology and water quality in the Mohawk River and tributaries.
But another connection is the beloved Whipple Bridge that graces the main entrance to the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve. Squire Whipple, an early graduate of Union College designed a truss bridge that was widely used on the Erie Canal as earlier generation wooden bridges started to deteriorate and become maintenance issues.
Historically as we look at our major educational institutions in the area all of these were established during the early nineteenth century during construction of the original Erie Canal. Later in that century more engineers were needed to design and enlarge the Erie Canal.
We should further cultivate our relationships with our local academic institutions. For example, not every visiting college family wants to sit through a football game. They might want to experience the fall foliage or the magic aroma of apple cider donuts being crafted at a local orchard; or the migrating bird populations passing through our area during the Homecoming weekends.
Finally, these college connections could provide insight to the economic impacts of visitors to the Mohawk Towpath Byway; could assist us with a better understanding of what appeals to our visiting public; and recommend how to market to these visitors. Ultimately they might hold the key to the potential sustainability with resource conservation, developing sustainable recreational opportunities, and other facets to implementation of our Byway’s Corridor Management Plan.