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Retracing Our Finger Lakes Manufacturing Heritage

Flowering Tree in Skaneateles Park

I treated Jeanette to lunch at the Sherwood in Skaneateles (click here) for her birthday. Instead of taking the Thruway, we took route 5&20 which meanders along the top of four of the five major Finger Lakes: Canandaigua, Seneca, Cayuga, and Skaneateles Lakes. Route 5&20 also passes through Auburn which sits at the top of Owasco Lake. It is along this route that the industrial revolution came to the Finger Lakes region. Towns like Waterloo which celebrated our first Memorial Day, Seneca Falls which gave birth to the Women’s Rights Movement, and Auburn which was home during the Civil War to our United States Secretary of State, William H. Seward. Auburn was also the home of Harriet Tubman, a major “conductor” on the Underground Railroad.

Fountain in Auburn Park

The remains of the transportation systems and water powered factories can be seen in these towns. The Seneca-Cayuga Canal, the Finger Lakes Railroad, and the Seneca River Canal which connects Seneca and Cayuga Lake to the Eire Barge Canal at Montezuma.

One can’t help but wonder what these towns will look like in another 50 years. Will the population keep moving on to more work friendly places, leaving behind the remaining farms, factories, churches, and beautiful old Victoria homes to further decay? Or will the people in the region finally decide that “enough is enough” and begin to reject goods and services from off shore? I won’t be around to see the outcome, but I don’t like where things are headed.

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