Monday, December 11, 2023

Gay Moore’s colossal legacy

Gay Moore has died at age 90; what a mark she made

By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor

Rear of photo: Tom Clements and Mary Lou Munger. Photo is from Chronicle archive, but we’re not sure of the photographer. Plans in hand, that’s smiling, determined Gaynelle Moore at the Feeder Canal’s wondrous Five Combines, next to her husband Charlie, who joined her in hatching the park project.

Fortunately Gaynelle Moore and her husband made a trip to Ottawa, Canada in the early 1980s. They saw a city making fabulous use of its historic Rideau Canal. In winter people skate to work on it as well as using it recreationally.

A spark was lit in the Moores’ minds. They saw possibility in the overgrown, ignored but still functioning Feeder Canal that feeds water from the Hudson River above Glens Falls to keep the Champlain Canal flowing just east of Hudson Falls.

A Feeder Canal canoe and kayak race. Gene Bowen photo

‘Let’s turn this into a linear park,’ they decided. Gay made it happen. The Feeder Canal, dating from the 1840s, was still in use. Water flowed through it to the Champlain Canal, but it was overgrown, scarcely noticed.

Gay turned it into something — a waterway you can paddle through, a towpath you can hike and bike on where horses once pulled barges.

The path takes you through a (for now) active industrial site, Glens Falls Cement.

Pride of place — Volunteers are always doing clean-up. Here in 2019 was Hudson Falls Boy Scout Troop 6004.

Gay won cooperation of governments, industries, businesses, the state Canal Corporation, the grass roots public.

The park pulls you into the region’s history and heritage. You see the limestone rockwork at the Five Combines in Hudson Falls and realize men and horses made it 180 years ago and still it stands. You get a sense of what northern New York is made of.

The Feeder Canal Alliance preserved and restored the former coal silos at Griffin Lumber. Photo by Maurice O’Connell

As a Hudson Falls English teacher for 23 years, Gay Moore certainly benefited many students. But as the catalyst in turning the Feeder Canal into a permanent public park, Gay’s impact is infinite. To me, she ranks right up there with the Henry Crandalls of our community.

The Five Combines — five locks in quick succession, off Burgoyne Avenue in Hudson Falls — are a marvel of engineering and construction. The roar of the water in summer is like our own little Niagara Falls. Chronicle file photo
The Feeder Canal wasn’t envisioned for transportation use, but local industrialists saw the potential and seized it, shipping paper and presumably cement south, bringing back coal on the customized barges. Photo courtesy Crandall Public Library Folklife Center
Erected signage helps tell the story.

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