Holding onto valley heritage
BARRYVILLE, NY — There was a brief dedication ceremony of a new historic roadside marker for the former Delaware and Hudson Canal on April 24. The marker is located on State Route 97 at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation river access, which is being developed just below Cedar Rapids, above Barryville.
Debra Conway, the Town of Highland’s co-historian, planned the marker effort and obtained it through a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. Conway said the marker is the first of its kind, developed through a new national initiative the foundation has undertaken to commemorate the many canals that shaped America.
The D&H Canal (1828-98) was a 108-mile water route, essentially a hand-dug ditch, between Honesdale, PA, and Kingston, NY. It was built to move PA’s anthracite coal from the wilds of northeastern PA to the furnaces of New York City. The canal followed the Delaware River from Port Jervis to Minisink Ford. The riverside portions of Route 97, (originally Route 3A) largely followed the old canal bed, and some remnants may still be seen along the highway today.
Sullivan County historian John Conway said the new marker sits on “a nexus of transportation,” in the valley, beginning with the river itself, the canal and the nearby Erie Railroad in PA, all of which were forerunners of state highways.
Debra Conway also revealed planning for creating more public riverside space. The proposal would link the southern end of the National Park Service-owned towpath with the Bald Eagle viewing site located about .25 miles south, with appropriate design elements in the intervening spaces.
The dedication was planned to coincide with the meeting of the Delaware and Hudson Transportation Heritage Council (DHTHC) which is a group of about 20 museums, historical societies, historians and history buffs from all along the canal. They met in Lackawaxen after the ceremony.
The group meets quarterly to share info and keep alive the history of the D&H Canal. They are poised to release the third in a series of DVDs about the canal, the most recent covering locks and people and stories from the area spanning the Roebling Aqueduct to Port Jervis. They are being produced by Bill Bollinger along with the DHTHC President Cliff Robinson.
Earlier editions are still available at the Wayne County Historical Society and elsewhere. For more about the council, visit www.dhthc.org or the Delaware and Hudson Transportation Heritage Council Facebook page.