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New York's Historic Waterways: The Reopening of the New York State Canal System

by Isabella Zasa

As the warm weather approaches, residents and tourists have been eagerly awaiting the reopening of the NYS Canal System. The canal system is set to open this year on Friday, May 17th, 2024 at 7 am, weather permitting. The Erie Canal welcomes history enthusiasts, cyclists, fishermen, and boaters on a journey through history. The system is open from mid-May through October 16th and the 2024 season will have no tolls or fees for recreational use.

The New York State Canal system is made up of four canals: the Erie, Oswego, Champlain, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Here in Orleans County, we get to enjoy and explore the Erie Canal. The canal was finished in 1825 and played a big role in shaping the economic and social scene of New York. Fun fact, as stated in Ripley's Believe It or Not, a road runs under the Erie Canal in Medina, NY - the only place where that happens (on the Erie Canal). It's located on, appropriately named, Culvert Road. 

The Erie Canal runs through many Hallmark-esque towns and scenic countryside here in Orleans County. Whether you're a history enthusiast who wants to explore locks and aqueducts or cyclists passing through, we have a lot to offer you on your days of exploring the Erie Canal. Take in our farm fresh produce at Hurd Orchards in Holley, NY, historic cobblestone at The Cobblestone Museum, in Albion, NY, and historic sandstone at the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame in Medina, NY. Experience award-winning wines at Schwenk Wine Cellars in Kent, NY, and dine in for a unique culinary experience at Harvest Restaurant, located in the historic Bent's Opera House in Medina, NY. Then after a long day of exploring, unwind at the Hart House Hotel in Medina, NY - one of many of our lodging options here in Orleans County. 

Be on the lookout for new attractions along the Erie Canal. Get your picture taken with the new cutout standup board with a historical theme, in Medina, NY. Also new, the Buffalo Maritime Center has constructed a full-sized replica of the Erie Canal Boat Seneca Chief, which originally opened the Erie Canal in 1825. Watch for details when they'll be cruising through Orleans County.

We, at Orleans County Tourism, invite you to enjoy the opening of our Erie Canal and all that Orleans County has to offer. To request more information explore our website, call us at 585-589-3100, or email

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