Rome wasn't built -- or bicycled to -- in a day. So after five days of riding, the 500+ cyclists that came to Syracuse Wednesday made camp at Fort Stanwyx Thursday.
The journey hit some sites that might be familiar to many Central New Yorkers, such as the Erie Canal Museum in downtown Syracuse, the Canastota Erie Canal Park and Museum, as well as the well-used canal corridor through Dewitt, with the aqueduct over Chittenango Creek.
Riders got their first official rest stop at the Chittenango Landing Canal Park, where they could see the dry docks, believed to be the only ones preserved from that period. There is also the authentic sawmill, blacksmiths, and a replica of one of the cargo barges that plied the canal waters, showing how families all shared a berth, with cargo in the middle and mules might have ridden in another hold.
The route also took the group through some lesser traveled parts of the canal trail system, jumping on and off roads to keep the route going to Rome. These trails follow towpaths along older parts of the historic canal, showing a contrast with the working Lock 21 which is on the working barge canal.
BIRTHPLACE OF THE ERIE
The destination of Rome proved a fitting stop, with its Erie Canal Village and Museum. There has been a re-creation of a canal village from the early 1800s, displaying a timeline and historical context in one area, with costumed people adding the authentic touch. Historian and Museum Director Melody Milewski explained that Rome was actually where the first digging of the original Clinton's Ditch took place. The site was chosen because it was a stretch that could be built relatively flat with no locks...plus it was swampland and easy to dig. That anniversary just passed, July 4th, 1815.
A tailwind and moderate temperatures helped riders finish the day. 248 Miles down, 152 to go.