If you haven’t visited it yet, now is a great time. The woodland trails are open, the waterfront is -at long last – view-able and the fishing is great! Visit it now, before they pull the plug!
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Here are the first of a batch of photos from The Village Historian’s office.
It was a long time ago, but this newspaper clipping from The Lockport Daily Journal (May 1st 1872) explains it all.
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In this photo below taken in the 1940’s, you can see the embankment quite clearly. Note how high it is compared to the trees on the lowland (left corner).
There are no trees where the Oxbow Woods are now. The old canal is visible between the cottages and the ‘Oxbow Woods’ field.
Here’s the embankment being worked on. I’m not sure whether this was another break being repaired, as the photo is dated 1918.
Here’s the empty canal being worked on, horses being the main workers. If you blow up the photo and look closely, it looks like the horses are pulling sleds.
Today, I was invited to visit with Bill Poray, our town historian. We had a great discussion and my knowledge of this magical place was extended considerably.
The first legend I learned we have to dispel is that all the inhabitants of yore were poor squatters. This was simply not true.
Many of the inhabitants were well paid employees of a railroad box car manufacturer in East Rochester, and they refurbished railroad box cars. The old wood was given away and the employees made lakeside weekend cottages from the wood. They paid rents to the Canal Authority, paid school taxes and more. Look carefully at the siding on these buildings, you can see the sign work of the old railroad cars.
Bonnie King Photo Album
When the depression hit, some people had to sell their first homes, and downgrade to their weekend cottages. They still paid their taxes and more, so the ‘squatter’ label is quite unfounded.
Over the next few weeks, I will post numerous photos from yesteryear and press cuttings “Oxbow Briefs’ from The Herald Mail circa 1947-8.
Here’s one, proving The Oxbow Rd. is a public right of way..
There have been numerous stories told to me about murders in Oxbow Rd. Perhaps many were fabricated, to ‘spice up’ legends, I’m not sure now after talking to Bill, but here’s evidence of one murder at The Inn.
I’m sure there must be dozens more photos hiding away in the village, so if you think you have some, perhaps you’d like to dig them out and let me scan them for everyone to enjoy here.
Oxbow Photo by Mike Caswell
This plant is in full flower right now, in the lower part of Oxbow Woods fairly near the trail. I had no idea what it was, so sent a photo to Ellen Folts of Amanda’s Garden. As usual, Ellen was quick to identify the plant and reply to me.
Ageratina altissima Or White Snakeroot is well described in the link Ellen sent me – http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/wh_snakeroot.htm
Wikipedia’s comments are also interesting, and they describe the plant as being indigenous to the North Eastern United States. It’s also highly toxic to cattle and will contaminate meat and milk, making them poisonous to humans.The poisoning was called ‘Milk Sickness’.
Thousands of settlers were killed by ‘Milk Sickness’ until Dr. Anna Pierce Hobbs Bixby was taught about the plant by a Shawnee woman, so yet another plant in The Oxbow woods has mysterious properties. Abraham Lincoln’s mother was believed to have been killed by White Snakeroot.
“This plant may serve medicinal purposes. Root tea has been used to treat diarrhea, kidney stones, and fever. A root poultice can be used on snakebites.”
I was recently forwarded some new photos by Bill Poray, the village historian, and thought I’d share them here.
This shot is from the 1940’s, which shows that the Oxbow was a lake at that time. I was under the impression that the islands were developed from dredging when the canal was built, but obviously it was dredged much later than that. Note the Oxbow Woods that skirt the school playing fields and the electricity lines don’t exist, except for the two old willow trees.
This has to be my favorite photo, it’s detail is spectacular and is beautifully composed. Those old willow trees haven’t changed much in all these years.
Boy’s doing what The Oxbow was meant for – fishin’. And note the willows in the background. Those old trees have dozens of knurls in the bark, and if you look very carefully, you can see faces in them. Willows have something mysterious about them, like magical powers, spells and potions, and the bark is where Aspirin comes from, See if you can see the faces in the bark next time you’re down there.
Here’s a map of the construction of the towpath wall. The cottages were on the spit of land you see on the right. This was once the original towpath and became the boardwalk, and is now the trail. The thin line of blue is the old canal, and you can still see it’s depression alongside the existing trail.
You can see more cottage photos here!
Someone, not me, or The Scouts, unlocked the Oxbow trail gate this afternoon and mowed the entire length of the trail.
They were using a large tractor, as seen by the tire marks.
It’s great news because the ragweed was getting lengthy and spoiling the park like appearance that everyone seems to like.
I wished they’d mowed a little nearer the canal banks as the ragweed is higher there and the many fishermen will soon be having more trouble getting there to cast their lines in.
Barkley and Morgan decided to case out the joint to see if our mowers left any scent that was recognisable.
I guess it’s a mystery, unless you know who did it? Doesn’t it look great!