Verona Beach LighthouseRecipients offer successful models of heritage development Waterford, N.Y. - The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission is pleased to announce the Restored 1842 Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct at the Camillus Erie Canal Park in Camillus as the recipient of the 2011 Erie Canalway Heritage Award of Excellence. Honorable Mention was awarded to the Verona Beach Lighthouse on the eastern shore of Oneida Lake and the Delta Sonic Heritage Farm at the Buffalo Zoo in Buffalo. "We congratulate and thank this year's recipients for doing so much to celebrate, preserve, and share the rich history of the Erie Canal," said Judy Schmidt-Dean, Chair of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission. "These are not only great places to visit-each has a valuable story to tell about how preserving our heritage can go hand-in-hand with economic and community revitalization." The Heritage Award honors significant places of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and recognizes excellence in advancing the goals of the Erie Canalway Preservation and Management Plan. A five-person independent jury selected award recipients based on a written application and site visit, which included meetings with officials at each site, as well as community leaders, municipal representatives, and other stakeholders. 1842 Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct, Camillus The jury selected the restored 1842 Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct at the Camillus Erie Canal Park for its extraordinary achievement in historic preservation and sustained public-private partnership between the Camillus Canal Society and Town of Camillus. Of 32 aqueducts constructed on the Enlarged Erie Canal in the mid-1800s, Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct is the only one that is restored and navigable. The project was spearheaded by volunteers, who worked in partnership with the Town of Camillus to raise $2.2 million to complete the restoration. The aqueduct is the centerpiece of the canal park, which serves more than 2,000 school children and 237,000 Erie Canalway trail users annually. In addition, several thousand people take advantage of the park's cruises each year, which lead right over the aqueduct. "For nearly 40 years, town officials and the community have supported the Camillus Erie Canal Park, which is operated and maintained solely by 160 volunteers who constantly step up to the plate," said Liz Beebe, Vice President of the Camillus Canal Society. "We are honored to be recognized for our efforts to transform an abandoned, brush filled, forgotten canal into a showpiece for local residents and visitors." Verona Beach Lighthouse, Town of Verona The Verona Beach Lighthouse was built during the construction of the Erie Barge Canal in 1915 to guide mariners from Oneida Lake to the Erie Canal. Yet after years of neglect this historic structure fell into disrepair and suffered from waste dumping, graffiti, and vandalism. Thanks to a ten year effort by the Verona Beach Lighthouse Association, the Verona Beach Lighthouse, once forlorn and forgotten, again serves as a beacon on the shores of Oneida Lake.  This historic preservation effort serves as an outstanding model for citizen action and community outreach. Volunteers removed 150 dump trucks of junk and spent countless hours to restore the lighthouse and enhance the site for visitors. They continue to participate in festivals, events, and parades, offer speaking engagements, and host volunteer work days to promote and preserve this unique canal structure. Delta Sonic Heritage Farm at the Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo The third oldest zoo in the country tapped into Buffalo's canal history as the focus of its new children's exhibit: the Delta Sonic Heritage Farm. Opened in 2010, the family-friendly exhibit depicts life on a small family farm located on the banks of the Erie Canal in the mid-1800s. Combining fun and recreation with history and environmental education, the exhibit has the potential to share the rich history of the Erie Canal with 420,000 zoo visitors annually, including nearly every fifth grader from the Buffalo City School District. The exposure to Buffalo's heritage makes perfect sense in a city whose very existence is owed to the canal. The exhibit features an historic barn originally located along the canal that was dismantled board by board and reconstructed on site. Heritage breeds of crops and farm animals, and landscaping with native plants bring the farm to life. Heritage Award Ceremony Heritage award recipients will be recognized at an award ceremony on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at noon following the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission annual meeting in Syracuse (location TBD). For more information about the award, more details and photographs of this year's recipients, and a list of previous Heritage Award Recipients, visit


Photo: Verona Beach Lighthouse Contact: Jean Mackay, Director of Communications and Outreach 518-237-7000, ext 222