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For Immediate Release: 05/01/19 

Contact: Office of Media Relations and Communications | (518) 471-5300 | 
public.info@thruway.ny.gov 

THRUWAY AUTHORITY ANNOUNCES PORT BYRON OLD ERIE CANAL HERITAGE PARK OPEN FOR THE 2019 SEASON
Site Features Historic Buildings, Artifacts and Exhibits
Heritage Park Has Welcomed More Than 39,000 Visitors Since First Full Season in 2017

The New York State Thruway Authority today announced the opening of the Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park for the 2019 season. The site features historical treasures showcasing authentic life on the Erie Canal in the mid-19th to early 20th centuries.

The seasonal attraction is located at the site of former Erie Canal Lock 52 and opened in 2016. It provides tourists a unique look into the history of the Canal and its impact on economic and commercial development of New York and the United States.

“When visitors come to the Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park, they’re stepping back in time to view New York’s important role in our country’s development,” Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said. “This historic landmark invites travelers to take a walk through history and learn more about life on the Erie Canal in the 1800s. It’s an exciting part of history and we welcome visitors for another season at the park.”

Since the first full season in 2017, the Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park has welcomed more than 39,000 visitors. The Canal Society of New York State provides free guided tours of the grounds.

Visitors can walk through the enlarged Erie Canal Lock 52, as well as the Erie House Complex, which dates back to 1895 and includes the Erie House Tavern and Hotel, blacksmith shop and mule barn.

The park’s visitor’s center includes a model lock featured in New York State’s exhibit at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, as well as interactive displays and educational materials. Additional amenities such as walking trails and refreshments are also available at the park.

A new addition to the park this season is the Lock Berlin Shanty. The historic structure was donated to the Canal Society and the Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park this spring, and is now undergoing restoration at the park.

Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “Two hundred years ago, the first section of Erie Canal opened for navigation, propelling New York forward into an era of unparalleled prosperity and economic ascendancy. Today, a bit of that old Erie Canal magic is preserved and wonderfully accessible to motorists travelling the New York State Thruway and Route 31.  We look forward to another great year at the Port Byron Erie Canal Heritage Park, where history is unlocked for all to see.”

Canal Society of New York State President Dan Wiles said, “I’m excited that the Erie Canal Heritage Park is about to start its third full season of operation.  The partnership and cooperation between the Canal Society and the Thruway Authority continues to provide a truly unique visitor experience to travelers on today’s hi-speed highways by providing them a taste of the Erie Canal, the super-highway of yesterday!”

Park Manager Mary Riley said, “The Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park is a great place for travelers to stop and stretch their legs and at the same time have an adventure learning about the past, present and future of the Erie Canal.”

Visitors can access the Heritage Park directly off the New York State Thruway eastbound between exit 41 (Waterloo – Clyde – NY Route 414) and exit 40 (Weedsport - Auburn – NY Route 34). The park is also accessible from NY Route 31 in the Village of Port Byron. To ensure consistency with federal requirements, visitors will be directed to return to the route from which they entered the park. Visitors are given a token upon entering the park’s visitor’s center which corresponds to their particular entryway.

The park is operated by the Canal Society of New York and is open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday through October. The park is staffed by part-time local travel counselors and more than 40 volunteers and is a dog-friendly park.

For more information, visit the Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park’s website.

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