About Tour the Towpath Adventure Quest

Tour the Towpath Adventure Quest is a real-life adventure journey that took place along the Erie Canalway Trail in the beautiful Old Erie Canal State Historic Park in August of 2019. In this quest, participants of all ages set out on foot and bike to solve a Canal era the mystery and unlock treasure! These brave adventurers traveled along the historic Erie Canal waterway – the most famous canal in the world - and encountered scenic views, stone-arch aqueducts,  and quaint canal-side communities.

Check back for updates and to find out what form Tour the Towpath will take next year!

Photo Contest

Check out some of the great shots that were submitted to the photo contest for a grand prize of $100.

The Story

A treasure has been found in Canastota, NY! It’s thought to be the long lost treasure of Elijah Fitzroy, a wealthy merchant, who was one of the first to travel on the canal when it first opened in 1825.

The chest is locked and appears to need a secret code to open.

One notable explorer, William Dananger, travelled by line boat along the canal in 1830 in search of Elijah’s treasure.  William never found the treasure, but he detailed his exploration in several letters that were found along the canal.  The letters were never taken seriously… until now that a treasure chest has turned up.  In his letters, William describes how he found four symbols along the canal with the initials E.F. next to them.  It is now widely believed that these symbols are the ones needed to unlock Elijah’s treasure chest.  Unfortunately, William’s letters only describe where he found the symbols, but not what they looked like.

The best chance of finding the symbols to unravel the code and open the chest seem to come from retracing William’s steps and following his letters.

Adventurers are called to come explore and try to unravel the mystery.

All of William’s letters have been placed where they were originally found with the hope that adventurers will be able to retrace his steps and find the secret code to open the treasure.

The 5 letters are located here:

1)      Lock 21 - end of Lock Rd, Rome, NY

2)     Town of Verona Office Building - 6600 Germany Rd, Durhamville, NY

3)      Durhamville Fire Department - 5305 Church St, Durhamville, NY

4)     Backroads Tavern - 4299 Canal Rd, Wampsville, NY

5)      Canastota Canal Town Museum - 122 Canal St, Canastota, NY

The Route

Even though Adventure Quest 2019 is officially closed, the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park is open year round for exploration. Here is a map and description of the route.

The Quest takes place in the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park in Central New York.  Specifically, this year’s quest is along the Erie Canalway Trail inside the Park and starts at Lock 21 and ends in the Village of Canastota at Zem’s Ice Cream.   The total distance traveled to complete the quest is about 15 miles.  The Erie Canalway Trail that you will travel on is a scenic, tree-lined path that is almost entirely off road that follows along the historic Erie Canal waterway – the most famous canal in the world. 

Your journey starts at Lock 21, a working lock on the modern Barge Canal System.  Come right up to the lock and watch boats come through!  A Lock Operator will be on site; watch how the Lock Operators raise and lower the water levels in the lock to let boats pass to the other side.

From Lock 21, you will take a short (0.6 mile) on-road section of the trail along Lock Rd (this is a quiet, dead end road with very minimal traffic) before picking up the off-road Erie Canalway Trail and entering the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park!  This park preserves the longest intact portion of the Old Erie Canal – the trail literally follows along the waterway- the engineering marvel that was originally hand dug to connect the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. 

You will enjoy canal scenery as you travel through the Park on a flat, tree-lined, 10 ft-wide stone dust path.   The trail is also well signed with directional arrows and wayfinding signs. From the trail, you’ll catch glimpses of a by-gone canal era as you weave through hamlets – such as Stacy Basin and Higginsville - that were once home to glass makers and cheese makers that shipped their products on the canal.

The Town of Verona Community Park immediately adjacent to the trail is a great stop to take a break.  Restrooms, picnic tables, and a playground are available.  Be sure to check out the large vibrant canal mural!  

About half way through your journey, you’ll come to another quiet on-road section of the trail which follows Canal St for 2 miles.  This will lead you into the hamlet of Durhamville.  Shortly after, you will return to the trail and pass over a working historic aqueduct – this impressive and picturesque stone arch aqueduct carries the water of the canal over Oneida Creek. 

For those that are interested, the City of Oneida can be visited just off the trail; the downtown is located about 1.5 miles from the trail and offers options for eating and shopping.

As you continue your journey west along the Erie Canalway Trail, participants will make their way toward a second aqueduct over Cowaselon Creek.  Be sure to be on the lookout for wildlife.  Blue herons, wood ducks, and snapping turtles are just a few you are likely to see during your experience on the Quest.

Another canal-side community that can participants can elect to visit just off the trail is the Village of Wampsville which also has a dining option and the County seat. 

You end your journey in the canal-community of Canastota.  The trail comes right into the heart of downtown Canastota where you will find great restaurants and shops such as Dunn’s Bakery (recently voted #1 half-moon cookie in Central NY), the nationally-known Bee Man Candle Company (featured in Martha Stewart Living and the NY Times), the acclaimed Toast restaurant (co-owned by a pastry chef who trained in Paris), and the Erie Canal Brewery and Tap Room (home of the MuleSkinner Pale Ale).  Canastota is also home to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.  Enjoy your time in Canastota as you make your way to the final clues and treasure chest located at Zem’s Ice Cream.

Visit our gallery to view images of just some of the sites and experiences to be had along the route during this year’s Adventure Quest!

A complete map set of the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park can be downloaded here: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/17/details.aspx