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'Canal Splash' keeps history afloat

The first Canal Splash is scheduled to take place this weekend. Over 90 events will be held in 20 different counties in an effort to celebrate the New York State Canal System and Canalway Trail. Locally, events will be held in the counties of Warren, Washington, Saratoga, Schenectady, Albany and Rensselaer. Events include kayak and canoe races, live music, photography and museum exhibits, bicycle tours, nature exhibits and walks, and a wide range of other activities designed with family fun in mind.

This is for anyone and everyone to enjoy, said Carmella Mantello, director of the New York State Canal Corporation. "It is important for people who live here to understand the significance and value of the canal. We have an incredible national treasure right here in New York state."

The canal system's more than 524 miles connect hundreds of lakes and rivers along its path which connects Lake Erie to the Hudson River. When the first section, the famous Erie Canal, opened in 1825, the canal decreased both travel time and shipping costs, facilitating westward expansion.

Today, there are 57 locks along the canal, many of which Mantello said will be open and available for tours. Calling the locks "engineering marvels," Mantello noted that they are operated and maintained in the same manner they were 100 years ago.

"So many people in so many communities recognize the national significance," said Mantello. "But there are many who do not. We need to take that asset and tell the world what we have in our backyard.

"The canal system generates over $384 million to communities all across the canal system. We're hoping folks can recognize that the canal can be the economic engine and the front door to economic revitalization," she said, citing a Canal Corporation study done several years back.

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