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Free Erie Canal tours highlight Finger Lakes history (video)

  • / Updated:
  • Rebecca Swift 

Amanda Holchuck is enjoying a cruise along the Erie Canal.  She’s seeing a side of the Finger Lakes she hasn’t before.

“Well it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a heron, a blue heron,” Holchuck said.  “It’s kind of cool going down the canal.  You learn a lot of different things.”

Boat captain gives Erie Canal history lesson (video)

Things from Captain John Cooper with Finger Lakes Water Tours, who incorporates a history lesson into his tour.

“They started digging the Erie Canal in 1817,” Cooper said.  “It took eight years to complete.  It was all dug by hand originally, it was four-feet deep and forty feet wide. It was probably one of the biggest pieces of infrastructure ever built. It had such a huge impact on the whole country and people need to learn to appreciate what we have.”

Passengers are appreciating the wildlife along the canal as they coast from Seneca Falls to Geneva.

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50-passenger tour boat takes groups along the Erie Canal

The man behind these tours, Bob Stivers, owns Finger Lakes Water Adventures and Stivers Seneca Marine, where boaters often take a pit stop.

“We have a 50-passenger tour boat and we’re able to run up and down the canal, through the locks system and out on the lake,” Stivers said. 

And for the next eight weeks, you can take this tour for free on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Free weekend tours through August

“The New York State Canal Corporation is partnering with the New York State Power Authority and they’re trying to create activities throughout the canal system,” Stivers said.  “So what they’re doing is  subsidizing the cost of them so the local tourists can go for a ride and no cost to them.”

Holchuck says more people should take advantage of this experience.

“So that we know our history,” Holchuck said.  “We know why we built these, we know what they’re for and I think that’s important.”

To book your free tour, click here and scroll to Narrated Tour of lock 4 and the Waterloo Power Plant.

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