Sunday, February 26, 2012

Another search for Clinton's Ditch

As you travel west along Rt 31, between Port Byron and Montezuma, you will pass over the route of Clinton's Ditch and the Enlarged Canal, although you will never know it unless you really are paying attention.

As it leaves Port Byron, Rt 31 climbs up and over a series of small hills. The canals are located to the north, built in the flat of old stream flows or perhaps the old river flow. The Thruway is following the route of the canals. About half way to Montezuma, Rt 31 drops off the hill, and begins to cross a flat area.

It is fairly easy to miss, but Clinton's Ditch is located at the base of the hill, following the contour of the land around this small flat area. This area might have been formed by Cranebrook, which is flowing in from the south. Stop and carefully park on the shoulder of the highway. Look off to the north for the billboard which is orientated for viewing from the Thruway. Look for the pine trees also. Then follow the contour of the land as it loops around the flat area. The canal is covered with trees and deadwood, so it is hard to see, especially in the summer months.

The enlarged canal is located on the north side of the Thruway, which you can see off to the north of Rt 31. In this area, the Thruway was built right on top of the enlarged canal, destroying any sign of it.

As you drive west, you will see how a knob of land rises from the south, near where the road crosses the Thruway and Cranebrook. Clinton's Ditch made a loop around this knob of land, stepping down through a lock to the level of Montezuma. The lock is gone. There was also a aqueduct that carried the canal over the brook somewhere back in there.

This is also where the enlarged canal passed from northeast to southwest, before it turned west toward the Seneca River Aqueduct.

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