Conference Study Tours

Cruise the historic Erie Canal and expand upon this year’s conference themes. Get a firsthand look at a variety of canal structures, operations and community projects. You’ll also have an opportunity to visit Syracuse’s Inner Harbor and Onondaga Lake, the city’s link to today’s canal system. Study tours are included in registration.


Head West

Focus on the rehabilitation and reinterpretation of historic structures along the old Erie and Cayuga‐Seneca canals. Highlights include stops at the restored Erie Canal aqueduct over Nine Mile Creek at Camillus and The Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park, and a chance to explore the village of Seneca Falls on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal.


Head East

Witness the revitalization of canalside communities. Stops include Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum and Rome– the place where construction of the Erie Canal started in 1817. You’ll see how these and other communities along the way are transforming themselves by transforming their canal waterfronts.


Head North

Spend time on the water and travel along the Oswego Canalone of the most heavily used segments of New York’s canal system. You’ll travel from the Port of Oswego to Fulton and tour the Canal Corporation repair shop at Lysander, where tugboats, dredges and other vessels are serviced.

Optional Pre-and Post-Conference Tours

Conference study tours will focus on sites near Syracuse, but there is so much more to see along New York’s canal system and we look forward to showing it off! Find transportation options for pre-and post-conference tours on our Getting Here page.

Special Early-Bird Tour: Shipwrecks of Lake Champlain, Thursday, September 21

Explore vessels dating back to 1770s preserved in the clear cold water of Lake Champlain. Long an avenue for maritime commerce and colonial warfare, the lake found a new outlet to the south when the Champlain Canal opened in 1823. Canal boats, some equipped with masts, sails and centerboards, carried iron ore, building stone, timber, pulpwood and farm produce from Canada, Vermont, and New York’s North Country to markets in New York City and along the Hudson River. Some didn’t make the whole trip. Lake Champlain can be treacherous, and the bottom is littered with shipwrecks. Join the tour to discover them! You won’t have to get wet- underwater archeologists from Lake Champlain Maritime Museum lead the tour using an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that skims over the wrecks, sending live video to your tour boat on the surface.

You’ll spend the night at the lovely Basin Harbor Club with lakeside rooms, great food, and the chance to see a terrific sunset over the Adirondack Mountains on the opposite side of the lake.

This tour originates in Albany but we can collect you at the Port Henry, NY Amtrak station if you’re coming via Montreal. We will join the rest of the pre-conference tour along the Champlain Canal on Friday and continue as a group to the end of the combined tour at Syracuse Saturday evening.

Pre-Conference Tour: Champlain and Eastern Erie Canals, Friday-Saturday, September 22 – 23

This tour will originate in New York State’s capital city, Albany, which is easily accessible from New York City or Montreal. A train ride from either offers some of the best scenery in the east.

We’ll explore the Champlain Canal, which connects the head of tidal navigation on the Hudson River at Troy with the southern end of Lake Champlain at Whitehall. Boats can travel north from there along the lake and continue on to the St. Lawrence River by way of the Richelieu River and Chambly and St. Ours canals. The Erie Canal connects the Hudson River estuary with Lake Erie 350 miles to the west. Both canals opened in the 1820s and remain in service today.

Champlain Canal

 Glens Falls Feeder

Champlain Lock 2

 Waterford Flight

Cohoes Falls

Waterford Shops

Highlights Include:

Champlain Canal

  • Glens Falls Feeder CanalNavigable feeder supplying water to the summit level near Fort Edward.
  • Hudson Crossing Park and Lock C5, SchuylervilleA beautiful art park and nature center developed on the island and the original lock powerhouse direct-current hydroelectric generating station, still in service today.
  • Lock C2 and Mechanicville Hydroelectric PlantOnline since 1897, Mechanicville is the oldest operating hydroelectric plant in the nation.

Erie Canal

  • Cohoes Falls– Largest waterfall in the east after Niagara. An obstacle to navigation for millennia and a source of waterpower for the past 140 years.
  • Cohoes Canals– Two routes of the Erie Canal (1824 and 1842), 16 locks to climb past Cohoes Falls, six interconnected levels of waterpower canals, National Historic Landmark textile mills and workers’ housing, National Mechanical Engineering Landmark water turbines.
  • Waterford Flight– Opened in 1915 as a much larger successor to the 16 locks through Cohoes. For many years, it was the highest lift in the shortest distance in the world.
  • Schoharie Crossing– Remains of the 1842 13-arch aqueduct that carried the enlarged Erie Canal across Schoharie Creek. The Empire Lock at Schoharie Crossing provides the only opportunity to compare stonework of the original (1822) and enlarged (1844) Erie Canal locks side by side.
  • Little Falls– The lift at Lock E17 was the highest in the world when it was completed in 1916. That record didn’t last long, but it’s still impressive. E17 is the only shaft lock on the system.
  • After a boat ride on the canal and dinner, the coach will deliver participants at the WCC2017 conference hotel in Syracuse Saturday evening, allowing lots of time to join the fun on Sunday (including Day 2 of the Tour the Towpath bicycle ride, if you’re feeling energetic).
Pre-Conference Cycling Tour: Tour the Towpath, Saturday-Sunday, September 23 – 24

Looking for an adventurous way to experience New York’s Erie Canal before the 2017 World Canal Conference? Join us for the 3rd annual Tour the Towpath bicycle ride through the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park. Experience 36+ miles of beautiful, off-road trail riding and explore historic communities that were built around the Erie Canal. Complete the ride in two days with camping or hotel accommodations at the mid-point. Or do the abbreviated one-day version. Bike rentals will be available. See photos, get more information, and register: (Note: registration for this event is handled separately from WCC2017.)

Post-Conference Tour

Erie Canal: Syracuse to Buffalo, Thursday-Saturday, September 28 – 30

Extend your stay with an exciting tour along the Erie Canal in western New York. We’ll depart from Syracuse on Thursday afternoon, September 28, head west along the Erie Canal and end in Buffalo on Saturday, September 30. We will spend Thursday night in Geneva, Friday & Saturday nights at the Adams Mark on the Buffalo waterfront. Formal tour activities wind down Saturday evening but there are a number of offerings Sunday morning, depending on your departure time.

 Seneca Lake, Geneva


 Niagara Falls

 Canalside, Buffalo

 Lockport Flight of Five

 Finger Lakes Wine

Highlights Include:
  • Geneva- Enjoy an evening on Seneca Lake, at the end of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, and sample wines produced in New York’s famed Finger Lakes region.
  • Lockport– See the famous 1842 “Flight of Five” locks, built to help boats climb the steep Niagara escarpment. Currently being restored, the flight sits alongside the similarly remarkable operating locks. Enjoy local food, craft beverages and music during the city’s annual “Locktoberfest”.
  • Niagara Falls – Challenge to canal builders, source of energy, magnet for visitors – feel the spray, experience the power.
  • Canalside, BuffaloDevelopments at the western terminus of the Erie Canal were just getting started during the 2010 World Canals Conference. A lot has changed since then, and there’s more on the way. Come see the transformation.

On-Your-Own Tours

Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor has several outstanding itineraries if you want to explore canal sites, national and state parks, and communities at your own pace.

Lead Sponsors

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