The Wayne County Historical Society is planning its 10th annual Canal Festival for August 19, 2023.
The event at D& H Canal Park at Lock 31 will be able to showcase the completed replica canal boat/pavilion named in honor of the late Clinton H. Leet, and significant progress in restoring the interior of the 1827 farmhouse/ canal side inn.
The canal boat/pavilion is scheduled to be dedicated at a special dinner on-site, June 17. Leet, a businessman from Honesdale and trustee at WCHS at the time, first proposed the idea for the “Towpath to Trails” project to the board of trustees in 1995. Leet is also credited for initiating the Stourbridge Line train excursions in 1979.
The idea to acquire the private property containing nearly a mile of Delaware & Hudson (D& H) canal towpath, a largely intact lock and farmhouse that for part of its history served as an inn and canal store, gained favor with the board.
A long process began of planning, grant writing and volunteer labor culminating in opening the park in 2013.
Leet attended the first Canal Festival on August 24 of that year; he died at age 91 on November 17, 2013.
Tom Colbert, trustee and Canal Park Committee chairman, later proposed naming the replica boat/pavilion in Leet’s memory, in keeping with a practice by some of naming their canal boat.
Nearly 1,300 boats carried coal on the 108-mile canal between Honesdale and Rondout, NY (on the Hudson River), from 1828 to 1898.
Sally Talaga, retired WCHS director and secretary of the Canal Park committee, reported that the full-scale wooden boat replica is slated to be completed this spring.
The partial recreation covers a pavilion resting in the historic canal basin, which was opened in 2020. The pavilion, available for rentals, contains a permanent exhibit of a typical canal boat cabin interior on one end. The partial hull of the 90-foot boat replica was added in 2022.
Colbert and other volunteers plan to complete deck details as well as adding a rudder and tiller and staining the wood. Once completed, it is expected to be tied to a granite snubbing post. Electrical service will also be completed, serving the pavilion.
On Saturday, June 17, a dinner with music and a slide show is planned in the pavilion to celebrate the project’s completion and honor Leet’s memory. Seating is limited. Registration will be necessary by June 11 with payment of $65 per person. The time and other details are to be announced.
With warmer weather, Talaga said that volunteers will begin renovating the kitchen “wing” on what is referred to as Daniels’ Farmhouse with hopes of having it host their canal store for the canal festival.
“This will allow the store’s temporary location to be interpreted as a bedroom and central hall,” Talaga said. “Plans are underway to add a bar to the first floor’s northwest room where one is thought to have been, during the Hintze hotel era— 1878-1901.” Elsewhere, original woodwork will be replaced and refinished doors are to be rehung.
Volunteers are being asked to assist with Spring Work Days set Saturday, April 22 for a tree harvest and cleanup and Saturday, May 6 for the annual Spring Clean Up followed by pot-luck lunch. Anyone interested in helping should email Talaga.
A spring guided public tour is planned Saturday, May 13, 10–11:30 a.m. of the Canal Park and house. Register online with $10 payment by day prior.
The Canal Park is open daily dawn to dusk, year-round for taking walks on the trail system, at no charge.
Interpretative panels review the history of both the site and the D& H Canal. A looping trail off the towpath trail goes down along the Lackawaxen River. D& H Canal Park at Lock 31 is located on Route 6 a mile west of Hawley— it is the only preserved public section of the canal in Pennsylvania.
Anyone wishing information about the festival and other events, call and leave a message for WCHS Director Carol Dunn at 570-253-3240 or email Talaga at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more online at waynehistorypa.org.