Corn Hill Navigation and the Rochester community lost a driving force and luminary this year with the spring passing of Edward P. “Ted” Curtis. For more than half a century, Ted applied his energy and talents to many unique professional endeavors. He demonstrated boundless dedication to protection of our community’s heritage and natural resources, particularly the Erie Canal and Genesee River. That’s why in his “retirement years,” Ted founded CHN and launched the 19th Century replica packet boat Sam Patch. It was the first docking of a commercial vessel in downtown Rochester in 30 years.
Twenty-six years ago the Genesee River was devoid of life – in, on and around its waters. The pollution and lack of intentional engagement with the waterway led to a body that couldn’t sustain life and wasn’t inviting to recreational users. But Ted Curtis had a vision for a boat that welcomed children, tourists and residents onto the Genesee River to tell its story – the true founding of Rochester – and educate them about the importance of a vibrant, healthy waterway.
Ted rounded up friends, colleagues and business leaders in his pursuit, and 26 years later locals fish the river, as do blue herons! Corn Hill Navigation continues to foster the improvement and sustainability of the Erie Canal and Genesee River for current and future generations through education, awareness and enjoyment. We’ve shared the magic of local waterways with 350,000 passengers, including tens of thousands of 4th graders studying New York State history. The Sam Patch, a replica 1800s Erie Canal packet boat, or its sister the Mary Jemison, docked at Corn Hill Landing for most of those 26 years. The Sam Patch now docks at the Port of Pittsford, and Mary Jemison was retired after the 2013 season.
Ted witnessed – and influenced – the evolution of Rochester’s waterways from polluted eyesores to sites of recreation, education, economic development and historic preservation. We honor Ted, and thank his wife Claire and their children for the continuing support of his legacy.
Words will never do justice to the deep gratitude felt by the current stewards of Corn Hill Navigation for Ted’s vision, leadership, dedication and infectious personality. So we simply and humbly say thanks Ted, we miss you greatly but commit to working diligently to ensure your vision continues to benefit Rochester and her waterways through CHN’s work!