CONEWANGO — More canoeists and kayakers are discovering Conewango Creek and The Dredge in Western Cattaraugus County.
Fall is a particularly nice time of year as colorful trees line both The Dredge and Conewango Creek.
In 1839, the New York State Legislature looked at plans to extend the Erie Canal southward from Buffalo through Western Cattaraugus County to the Allegheny River.
While the canal never materialized, part of the plan was resurrected in 1896 to protect areas along the meandering Conewango Creek from constant flooding.
The Dredge, as it became known, opened up 20,000 acres of farmland on both sides of the north-south waterway that cut off Conewango Creek.
The lack of maintenance over decades saw the banks erode, trees fall in and dam the water and flooding all over again.
In the mid-1990s, citizen groups began raising money and clearing The Dredge from Cherry Creek to Waterboro, completing the task in 2003. The mid-section of that effort lies in the Town of Conewango.
Built for drainage, it has become a prime recreational asset, attracting fishermen, canoes and kayaks.
One popular boat launch is the DEC site on Goodwin’s Landing Road off Lower Bush Road in the town of Conewango.
Go north from the launch and you are on The Dredge. If you paddle (or row) south, you’ll hit Conewango Creek.