WNY Family Magazine September 2018 - Page 33

features a Visitors Center, rest rooms, picnic tables, and enthu- siastic volunteers ready to tell the park’s story. The center offers interactive and educational displays. A model lock featured in New York State’s exhibit at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago is a centerpiece of the center. “Every day, more and more people are coming to appreci- ate that New York’s culture and heritage is intimately connected to the development of the Canal system,” said the Canal Soci- ety’s President Kal Wysokowski. The park is the culmination of 20 years of work on behalf of the Canal Society and became a reality through cooperation from the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation.  Here visitors can walk through an authentic 19 th century lock that once raised and lowered canal boats, day and night. Just beyond is the fully restored Erie House, a tavern built in 1895 that welcomed many canalers during its heyday. Next to the tavern is the blacksmith shop and mule barn. The massive stones weighing nearly two tons used in build- ing the lock came from quarries near Syracuse via the canal. As you walk towards the Erie House you will be on the Erie Canal towpath, following in the footsteps of those who drove the mules or horses that pulled the canal boats. Peter Van Detto, an Italian immigrant who operated a sa- loon in Rochester, built the tavern. Across the canal was a boat yard and dry dock where boats were repaired. He lived here with his wife Adelina, another Italian immigrant, and their two daughters Teresa and Marie.  Back in the 1980s Marie reminisced about watching the saloon business as a child. She fondly remembered the excite- ment of w