Harebells! Lots of them this year!

IMG_3713I’m not sure I’ve identified this flower correctly, so if anyone knows better, please tell me. This plant looks like a Harebell, according to my Audubon Field Guide to Wildflowers.


I spotted one or two last year, but they must have seeded well, because they are quite prolific in one area along the trail.

The Swamp Milkweed is doing well too, and I noticed my first Monarch butterfly visiting today.

I learned that these butterflies go through four generations in one year, the last one  emerging in September and then migrating to Mexico.   You can read about that here.


Hopefully, later in the year we’ll spot some Monarch caterpillars grazing on the milkweed.



#1 Oxbow Road – SOLD!

Much to my surprise, #1 Oxbow Road has sold incredibly quickly. Considering the sad overall condition it’s good to know the investor is seeking to make major renovations and alterations.

Apparently, the structure of the basement is solid, and the frame is too! There’s a beautiful old fireplace that will make a real feature of the new home. There are demolition plans for the outbuildings, and landscaping in on the cards, so the weeds around the perimeter will likely go.

I’m hoping the  flow of water from the springs and the sump pump on the property will be fixed, so the trail will not be quite so muddy.

I’ll be able to post photos of the remodeling, as the contractor has suggested he’d like to show the progression to the public.

Oxbow copy



Endangered species on Flo’s lot?

This morning I noticed a fair sized patch of yellow flowers on the site of Florence Rutter’s cottage. Many folks will remember her as being the last inhabitant of Oxbow Road, and of her cottage being burnt to the ground under suspicious circumstances.

On first look, I thought the flowers were a buttercup, but then my Audubon book showed several varieties of buttercup. Looking more carefully at the leaves, my best guess is they are a SWAMP BUTTERCUP, particularly as they are thriving on a low lying, waters edge piece of land.



Swamp Buttercups are an endangered species as per the NYDEC, so I let them know of my find. Apparently there are very few sightings in New York State.

I wonder if I got it right?


Spring has sprung!


The Myrtle patch is looking pretty this time of year.


I’m not sure what this flower is, perhaps a winter geranium?


And among a patch of Pachysandra terminalis, this lone Trillium Grandiflorum stands out.

The giant ferns are now about a foot tall, and the several patches of Lily of the Valley are about to flower. The air will shortly be heavy with their perfume, so take a walk down the Oxbow in the next few days to savor that treat.

One troubling problem is the Japanese Knotweed is spreading. The source seems to be the property boundary (the old pub) along the Erie Crescent end of the trail. This weed is spreading everywhere and is mostly on State land.  Several residents have told me they are having problems with the stuff!



Another Aerial Photo

This photograph was given to me by Mr and Mrs Stavisky who live in the last house on Old Post Road, right next to the Oxbow.  It is framed and hanging on their wall, and they kindly scanned it for me.

It really shows the extent of the cottages around three islands. Somehow, the gap between the second and third was filled in.

If you look carefully at the right side of the cottages, you can see the ‘cut’ of the old canal running by the side of them. Also note the channel in the bottom right corner of the photograph, where it looks like the bank of the canal formed an island.

There’s quite a cluster of cottages by the electricity pylon, which in those days was stood in water, hence the protective bollards around it.

The Oxbow Woods were not in existence, hardly a tree there at this time.

Notice how the canal embankment dam has large areas where there are no trees.

Thanks John and Anne, the photograph is a great historical record that I’m sure everyone will enjoy seeing.

oxbow 1950s





Oxbow Culvert Repaired!

The New York Power Authority (new  owners of the Erie Canal Corporation) have  risen to the occasion and started to repair the bridge/culvert running under Oxbow Rd.  The road is actually the old towpath which runs alongside the old original canal, which can be clearly seen between the playing field and the path.

Here are some photos I took yesterday of the works progression.

The rusty old culvert pipes have been dug up, and replaced with rot proof plastic pipes.

I imagine there are many more culverts along the canal in this poor condition which need replacing. It’s good to see the NYPA jumped on this problem, and has the where-with-all  to properly fund these projects.  The Canal Corporation’s lack of funding over the years is why these problems exist.

What is concerning is, if steel pipes are commonly used in culverts across The State, then there are many areas where there is considerable danger from this deterioration. Water flowing rapidly through a holed pipe will cause the soil to be sucked out, creating voids for sinkholes, but also makes channels along the pipe where severe erosion can take place.

You can see the general state  of these culverts as per previous inspection reports.


Today, Friday 4th May, the NYPA finished the repair and The Oxbow Trail is open for business!

If you approve of the work the NYPA is doing to keep us safe and improve the canal, please sign my petition



Sinkhole Appears on Oxbow Road Culvert

A few weeks ago I noticed a  6″ diameter hole had suddenly appeared in the pavement over the culvert which the stream from the school flows into the canal. It’s on canal property, so I notified the Canal Authority and they sent out a truck to put some ‘cones’ up and a barrier to prevent vehicles and people having a mishap.IMG_2839

A few days later I looked under the cone which had been strategically placed over the hole, and discovered the hole had grown in size. The metal culvert pipe had corroded through, and the flow of water had washed out all the soil above. Overall the hole is about 6 feet deep and growing. Any vehicle traveling over this area would likely cause a collapse of the metal pipework. If anyone happened to fall down this, they’d be cut up pretty badly by the jagged metal pipes.


This is a small example of what can happen to a culvert. Fortunately, this isn’t underneath an embankment dam, but it does demonstrate the dilapidated state of the bridge. The surrounding concrete is a complete disaster, over half of the structure is missing, which is why the Canal Authority dumped a pile of small 6″ rock filler around the outlet. They washed out completely in the first storm, so they put in more of the same and once more it all washed away after another storm.

Finally, they brought in a truck load of rip-rap rocks, 2 feet diameter, and that has held. Unfortunately, it looks like they’re going to have to dig up the entire structure and replace the pipes.

If all the other culverts that are underneath embankment dams are in this condition, with even a small crack in concrete or corrosion in pipes, then we should all be very concerned because this sort of sinkhole could easily cause an embankment failure.

It’s Friday 12th January and it’s been thawing and raining today, with a fair amount of water flow occurring.

The hole has doubled in size over 24 hours.


Five days later, we now see that TWO pipes are rusted through!IMG_2895