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Special Centennial Great Embankment Cruises

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Celebrate An Unsung Erie Canal Technological Wonder

Canal Society of New York StateRochester, NY – The centennial completion of one of the canal’s unsung technological wonders – The Great Embankment between Pittsford and Bushnell’s Basin – will be the subject of two special Erie Canal cruises during Memorial Day weekend. The Canal Society of New York State and Corn Hill Navigation will partner to present the commemorative cruises onboard the Sam Patch, departing from Schoen Place in Pittsford, New York.

When are the Cruises

The cruises will take place:

  • Friday evening May 25, 2012 from 7-9pm and 
  • Memorial Day morning, Monday May 28, 2012 from 10-11:30am. 

Both cruises will feature stirring narrations presented by Canal Society of New York State President Thomas X. Grasso and Corn Hill Navigation President Victoria Schmitt while cruising over the Great Embankment.

Great Embankment, a technological wonder of the Erie Canal

When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, the Great Embankment through the Irondequoit Valley was heralded as one of the technological wonders of the Erie Canal – along with the Aqueduct over the Genesee River, the canal section through Montezuma Swamp, and the Lockport flight of Locks.

The original 19th century Great Embankment utilized natural “ridges of sand and gravel” tied together with artificial embankments that curved through the Irondequoit Valley. Canal travelers marveled at the experience of “sailing above the treetops,” 70-feet above the floor of the valley.

When innovative canal engineers and workers completed the modern Great Embankment on or about May 15, 1912, the structure took a straight course across the valley, and therefore was a completely artificial construction. Sam Patch passengers will receive a commemorative booklet, see striking photographs and hear riveting stories of the construction of the Great Embankment – and the disaster that followed its completion only months later.

For Tickets and Information

For tickets and information visit, call 585-662-5748 or email [email protected].

The Canal Society of New York State

The Canal Society of New York State’s mission is to protect New York State’s canal heritage and its future through research, preservation, education, advocacy, and where appropriate restoration. It interprets two centuries of Erie Canal history across New York State Canal and actively promotes the renaissance of the modern canal. The Society brought the World Canals Conference to Rochester an unprecedented two times, in 2000 and 2010. Current Society initiatives include development of a national Erie Canal Heritage Park at Port Byron with direct access from the Thruway, and uniting today’s Erie Canal with a restored downtown Rochester old Erie Canal, for full navigation, across the 1842 Broad Street Aqueduct. The Canal Society of New York State is a 501c3 tax exempt academic organization.

Corn Hill Navigation

Corn Hill Navigation, the nonprofit operator of the Mary Jemison and Sam Patch boats, enters its third decade of service to the Monroe County community in 2012. The organization showcases the Erie Canal and its Genesee River Extension as living history, facilitating the 21st century reinvention of these historic waterways as international tourist destinations, educational resources and stimuli for economic revitalization.