Saturday morning Dale arrived to spend the weekend with us. We talked, got propane and hung out until Greg and Tina arrived from Rochester about 1 PM. After giving them a tour of Cuba we all went to the Garlic Festival. It is a community event that is only about 10 years old and we were not expecting much after Rushford and Pittsford, but we were very pleasantly surprised. It is held on the grounds of the McKinney Stables, or Empire Farms as it is also known; the concrete horse barn on the south end of Cuba that I mentioned in an earlier post.
The Garlic Festival had many booths where unique garlic items were being sold, as well as many with local specialty items (jams and maple stuff, etc.), some craft things, food booths, music, cooking demonstrations and much more. There were many free samples and we all tried many good things. It was a very nice event and there were a ton of people there. Traffic was backed up all the way through Cuba to Water Street and beyond.
At 4 PM we all took a tour of the horse barn itself. The tour lasted for an hour and was conducted by the current owner who bought it in 1996 at a tax sale. She has been working to restore it and is making slow progress. It is a very interesting building that is constructed completely of concrete or concrete blocks, including the floors. The concrete blocks were made one at a time on site. Quite an undertaking for any time, but it was really something in the 1906-1909 time frame when it was built. The man who built it was named Simpson. They had made their money in New York City. They owned and operated the first pawn shop there. That's right. Their pawn shop generated millions of dollars in profits. He built it to house his world champion trotting horses after a tragic fire in another stable that killed many of his prize horses. This stable is fireproof. The great granddaughter of the Simpson who built the barn was also there to add to the history. It was quite educational and informative.
After the festival we drove to Portville to have dinner at Spragues Farm. They are a very large commercial maple syrup operation and have opened a very nice restaurant. We had to wait for over half an hour for a seat as it is very busy. Almost every item on the menu has maple syrup in it in one form or another. Three people had breakfasts but I had salmon in maple glaze. Tina had something turkey which also included maple syrup somehow. It was quite good.
We drove back to Cuba where we said goodbye to Greg and Tina who drove back to Rochester. Dale, Dianna and I watched a movie and then went to bed.
Sunday we decided to take a hike and do some geocaching. We drove to Black Creek and found the Genesee Valley Canal Greenway about a quarter mile to the east. We hiked norths about 2 1/2 miles along the old canal and found 5 caches. Much of the canal in that area is now filled with beaver ponds. We only saw one beaver, and only his tail at that, as he quickly dove into his lodge, but their work was very evident.
As we hiked we talked about the Genesee Valley Canal. Dale has been interested in the Erie Canal for some time, and our recent hikes along the Genesee Valley Canal have been educational and fun for both of us. We knew that Cuba Lake was a feeder to the Genesee Valley Canal, and we tried to figure out where and how. We knew the highest spot on the lake was near here because Cuba Lake fed the canal at its highest point, but we were not sure where that was. It was obvious where we were hiking that it must be between Black Creek and Cuba because the streams in the Black Creek area flowed to the north.
After our hike we made a stop at the Cuba Cheese Store to stock up, then drove through McDonalds to pick up dinner. I know, I know. We were tired from 5 miles of hiking. Dale headed back to Buffalo after dinner. It was really nice having him with us for the weekend. We are looking forward to seeing him again in a couple months or so in Arizona.
I did some more research on the Genesee Valley Canal today. I found the Chronological History of the Genesee Valley Canal and History of the Genesee Valley Canal parts of the Canals of New York document, where I learned the Cuba Lake was originally called Oil Creek Reservoir. From another source I was also finally able to answer a question that Dale and I had about where the water left the lake to feed the canal at its highest point between Black Creek and Cuba. It said there were valves and a sluice box built into the base of Cuba Dam near the south end. I rode up there today to see if I could find it.
There is a cemetery located at the base of the dam which I learned is the oldest cemetery in Allegheny County. It was relocated there when the lake was filled as the original site was flooded. There are headstones of Revolutionary War soldiers as well as Civil War soldiers. Most of the headstones are badly deteriorated so it was almost impossible to read them.
I hiked down a trail from the cemetery and located the outlet to the canal. It is about 200 feet from the south end of the canal and can be seen on Google Maps. A new roof has been built to protect the old valve structure, but the sluice itself is built of concrete or blocks and is still in pretty good shape. I then decided to follow the sluice to see where it went. I found where it crossed the Cuba/Black Creek road just south of Moonwinks, at the intersection of Jackson Hill road to the east and the South Lake Shore road to the west. I rode east northeast on Jackson Hill road about 1/4 of a mile to what I thought was the canal. I parked the scooter and walked south along the old railroad bed until I found the structure where the sluice feeder passed underneath. What I have since discovered is that the railroad split off from the canal just about 1/2 mile north of that location. Therefore the canal was further east. Following the sluice in a straight line will lead to it. From the documents listed above I also learned that this was within a 12 mile long level section, known as the summit level, that ran from near Black Creek to near Hinsdale. There were locks going down in both of those locations.
As long as I was following things, I continued to follow the route of the old railroad bed and realized that Dianna and I had been walking on it during our evening walks. It runs directly behind our RV park. The canal is somewhat further east of us at a lower part of the valley.
While I was at the cemetery I met a man who lived there and was into history as well. We chatted a while and he gave me some good information. His name was Hatch and he was from Portville. He knew who Reuben Hatch was but said he was not a close relative. Undoubtedly he was somehow connected though.
The reason I mention him is that he told me there are still remnants of some locks in Hinsdale, just behind the VFW there. I may ride down and take a look tomorrow.
Who knew canal history could be so much fun?
This is a view on Google Maps of the location where the sluice comes out of the dam. You can follow it across the road and to the first north/south line that looks like a road or trail. It is the canal. It bisects the farmers field. Further east it joins the creek that flows toward Cuba.
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