New interpretive kiosks have been installed along the Mohawk Towpath Byway to help tell the story and highlight the significance of the individual sites. One will be located at the Old Military Crossing of the Mohawk River between the Towns of Colonie and Waterford. This crossing was used during the Revolutionary War during parts of the year when water was too high to cross at Waterford. Today this is the site of the Crescent Dam on the Cohoes Crescent Road.
The other new kiosk is located at the Lock 7 Overlook at the foot of Sugarhill Road in the Town of Clifton Park. This is the location of one of the most challenging locations for construction of the original Erie Canal prior to its opening in 1825. Before the advent of steam powered excavation equipment the work on the shale bedrock was done by hand labor. Canallers later identified this site as the “young engineer’s cut” and was the deepest cut along the entire Erie Canal with stretched 363 miles across New York State. This is the site boasts an excellent panoramic view overlooking the Mohawk River. This is also the western gateway to the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.
“These interpretive kiosks were originally envisioned during early planning and preparation of the Mohawk Towpath Byway’s Corridor Management Plan almost 15 years ago,” admitted Eric Hamilton, Executive Director of the Byway. “The kiosks are funded by a Federal Highway Administration Byway Grant through the New York State Department of Transportation Byway Program.
“Uncovering these bits of history along the Erie Canal has been a rewarding process,” adds John Scherer, Town of Clifton Park Historian. “The Mohawk Towpath Byway has many stories from natural history, Native Peoples, and generations of local residents. These kiosks provide a glimpse of some of these stories.”
Colonie Town Historian Kevin Franklin observes that a lot of America’s history happened right here in our own back yards. “Providing these kiosks helps to summarize these stories and tease visitors and local residents to learn more of their community’s heritage,” adds Franklin. The kiosks are on public property and accessible year round. The kiosks also include a QR code that provides access via smart phone to an audio recording by local people explaining the significance of each of the sites.