New signs along canal spotlight area’s history

Nearly 20 new interpretive signs along the state canal system are planned as part of the Mohawk Vall
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Nearly 20 new interpretive signs along the state canal system are planned as part of the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission’s goal to coax tourists off highways and into communities that played vital roles in the country’s formation.

The effort is one of several in an ongoing campaign to help people recognize the places and sights that otherwise might go unnoticed, said Rachel Bliven, regional interpretation manager at the MVHCC.

Bliven was one of several speakers at the commission’s annual meeting held at the Arkell Museum at Canajoharie.

The new signs are expected to complement 30 signs adorning Revolutionary War sites that stretch across the valley from Rome to Schenectady, Bliven said.

“This is the place where you can literally see the forming of a new nation,” Bliven told a group of about 30 attending the meeting.

The Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor stretches 130 miles from Central New York to the Hudson River. It connects eight counties, 203 municipalities and hundreds of visitor attractions as the first regional heritage area in the New York State Heritage Area System. The region encompasses almost 6,000 square miles, one-sixth of New York State, with a population of 1.2 million residents.

Locally, the heritage corridor includes Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie, Saratoga, Albany and Schenectady counties. The commission, charged with preserving and promoting cultural, historic and natural assets, received a new lease on its life earlier this year when the state Legislature extended its work through 2013.

But, to continue its work, which included administering part of $8 million in grants to help flood-ravaged communities rebuild after the 2006 disaster, the commission has to start seeking new sources of revenue, Executive Director Fred Miller said.

The commission received $300,000 in funding from the state Legislature, about $50,000 shy of a full-year’s operating expenses for the commission staffed by four people.

The commission’s finance committee is planning a comprehensive fund-raising campaign to seek other revenue sources, and projects for other agencies may also yield money if a reasonable fee is charged, Miller said.

Private foundations and individual state agencies may be sources of additional funding, Miller said.

Also under development is a photo library to be linked to the commission’s Web site to give potential tourists a view of some of the sights and attractions that dot the Mohawk Valley’s landscape, said Tracy Montoni, regional tourism manager at the MVHCC.

Miller, who is trying to reach outside of the region to share the Mohawk Valley’s assets with worldwide tourists, highlighted a May 17 article in the London Financial Times.

The story describes several bargain deals wealthy travelers found purchasing property in the Mohawk River Valley, and recounts several development projects in the planning stages.

The story mentions the grand architecture that followed the development of the Erie Canal and the availability of 12,000-square-foot mansions that can be had for as little as $1 million.

And at the end of the story is Miller, known for his passionate love for the Mohawk Valley and the commission’s purpose, letting people in England know: “We have an area of unmatched historical significance.”

More information about the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission can be found on its Web site at www.mvhcc.org.

Categories: Schenectady County

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