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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Youth Fishing Derby, 1999
Kids enjoy Youth Fishing Derby, 1999. Photo: Todd Vincent

Little Falls Canal Celebration

Founded and developed by virtue of its unique geographic position on the Mohawk River, Little Falls has always recognized the importance of water in its history. The Mohawk Valley and the Mohawk River break through the Appalachian Mountains to form the only natural road and waterway between the tidewater and the Great Lakes, thus earning the designation "Gateway to the West." But the drop of nearly 40 feet of the river at Little Falls at first made passage impossible, so water craft were hauled on wagons around the falls and re-loaded and re-launched to proceed on their trip west. This often meant travelers had to stay the night at Little Falls, depending on the portage available, thus hastening its development as a community. The incorporation of the Western Inland Lock Navigation Co. (WILNC) in 1792, and the building of the locks in 1795, were the first steps toward "canalizing" the Mohawk River to the Great Lakes route, making portage around the falls unnecessary.

From what began in 1988 as a three-day event to celebrate this geographic and cultural heritage, the Little Falls Canal Celebration has grown to a five-day festival that attracts thousands. The Canal Celebration recognizes the varied ethnic groups who played a critical role in the development of the city, and the importance of the canal to the economic development of the town. Events include musical entertainment, a parade, picnic, bike race, youth fishing derby, boat rides, historic home tours and more. The project is documented with a report, promotional brochures, program, 11 color photographs, and a videotape.

Originally submitted by: Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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