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All Donations are Tax Deductable.

The WHA is a 501(c)(3) Organization.

EIN: 16-1580 148

Please consider donating to help create the Wanakena History Center. Funds will be used to: finish the exterior renovation (e.g. paint), furnish the interior space, obtain display cases, lighting fixtures, audio-visual equipment, and provide storage for documents and photographs.

Checks can be mailed to:

Wanakena Historical Association - History Center

PO Box 73

Wanakena NY, 13695

October 22, 2018

The Wanakena Historical Association is Moving Forward with History Center

The WHA Trustees are extremely happy to report that five partners have stepped forward to buy-in to own and renovate 21 Second Street as The Wanakena Historical Association’s History Center. The owners are in the process of hiring a contractor to transform 21 Second Street back to its original design! This is truly amazing. Once the renovation is complete (expected early summer 2019),

There already have been responses from people who want to donate to help to create the History Center. Soon, we will be actively identifying grant opportunities that will help furnish the space(s) for displaying and storing our historical objects and documents. Full speed ahead!!

September 25, 2018

Wanakena History Center Moves Closer to a Reality:

Currently the Wanakena Historical Association's (WHA) collection of objects, photographs, and documents can be viewed by appointment only and is primarily located on the third floor of the home of Trustee & past-President, Bill Gleason. Additional items are stored by other Trustees/members. Further, the WHA is aware of historic objects that may be donated or loaned once there is a physical location for display and centralized storage.

At the June 2018 WHA meeting, a committee was tasked with assessing an opportunity to create a Wanakena History Center. This committee worked through the summer visiting two local museums and evaluating different building possibilities in Wanakena and their related costs. The goal was to create a place where our history can be available to the public and those who take the J. Otto Hamele historic walking tour.

At the September 22nd WHA meeting, the committee reported their findings, and there was a thoughtful and lengthy discussion on taking the next step to create a physical location to display historic artifacts and documents already in our possession. A consensus vote of the Trustees and WHA members present at the September meeting agreed to accept a generous offer that would rescue and utilize one of the original Wanakena houses, located at 21 Second Street (see Photos). It is critical that two more partners/owners be identified before restoration could begin. Once repairs and renovations are complete, the WHA agreed to take on responsibility for paying the operating expenses which include taxes, sewer & utilities, as well as obtaining necessary insurance for an estimated total of $3,000 - $4,000 annually. In addition to this agreement with the property owners, the Trustees realize that the WHA will need to apply for grants and/or raise funds to furnish the space, obtain display cases and equipment, and provide storage for documents and photographs.

Celebration & Dedication on July 4, 2017

Construction was completed on November 11, 2016

UPDATE April 24, 2014 Update on the Wanakena Footbridge Committees:

  • Grant Identification & Writing: is working on two grants due in early June.
  • Wanakena Bridge Fund Raising: in addition to much behind the scenes work, will be holding its first meeting May 13 at 6PM. Contact Allen Ditch or Marsha Smith for details.
  • Regulatory Affairs: continuing to have conversations with appropriate agencies.
  • Salvage Design & Construction: coordinating schedules and planning an on site meeting in early May.-site meeting for early May.

2nd request for letters of support, due May 24th:

We would like to extend our heartfelt thank you to those of you who wrote letters of support and will continue to use them in future grants – you don’t need to write again. For those of you who missed the first deadline, we are once again asking for letters or statements supporting the rebuilding of the Wanakena Footbridge. Please select one of the two methods of responding, it is not necessary to use both, either e-mail to [email protected] or mail to Hope Dolan, Town of Fine Clerk, Wanakena Footbridge, 4078 St Hwy 3, Star Lake, NY 13690, no later than May 24th.

UPDATE April 17, 2014

With the arrival of warm weather on April 12, folks in Wanakena began reporting that the Oswegatchie River was finally beginning to melt and open up. Over the next few days it seemed like the bridge just might avoid being hit by another huge ice jam, and it did. But, with the huge snowfall melting, lots of sunshine and two days of rain the river level rose quickly to envelop the span that had been laying on the ice since January 13. The extra strain did take down what was left of the tower on the North shore. Again our bridge struggled to hold its own against the rising torrential currents. Later on April 16, the rising water began picking up debris from the shoreline and this started hitting the submerged walkway. As of this moment on April 18, the cables are still holding and the tower on the South shore is still standing. To see recent photos of the ice metlting and water rising, visit our FaceBook Site .

During a teleconference on April 18, it was determined that now that the ice has gone out, Crawford & Stearns will move forward with setting a date for the heavy bridge contractor to come to the site to determine the best course of action.

THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU to all who wrote letters of support that became part of the recent application to request a grant from the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency. The statistics are quite impressive: We received 98 letters, 8 from government officials or groups, 48 were from residents of Wanakena (either year round or seasonal) and 42 were from others. There were letters from 9 different states including NY, PA, VT, TX, WI, MI, MD, CO and MA. And there were two letters from other countries, Sweden and France.

The grant application to the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency (SLRVRA), which these letters were a part of, is currently being reviewed. The committee will make their awards by the end of April. The letters will be used in other grant applications as well.

UPDATE March 26, 2014

Some REALLY good news we have ALL been so anxiously awaiting!!!

I know everyone here has been looking for news...and this is a GREAT piece of VERY GOOD news.......

Community Foundation Approves Grants in St. Lawrence County

The Northern New York Community Foundation Board of Directors today grants benefiting four St. Lawrence county organizations, including $10,000 to the Wanakena Hisorical Association to help restore/rebuild the footbridge. “These latest investments in this part of the Community Foundation’s service area affirm our commitment to enhancing the quality of life in all three of the counties we are charged to serve,” said Rande S. Richardson, Foundation executive director.

The Community Foundation raises, manages, and administers an endowment and collection of funds for the benefit of the residents of Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. The Foundation has been built and added to from gifts (both while living and through their legacy plans) by individuals and organizations committed to meeting the changing needs of Northern New York. The grants that were approved:

  • Wanakena Historical Association - $10,000, To support the Wanakena Footbridge restoration/rebuilding campaign.​
  • Norwood Village Green Concert Series - $5,000, to purchase of new lighting infrastructure for their concert venue.
  • Canton Golden Bear Packs Program - $2,000, sustainability support for Canton Central School’s food and nutrition backpack program for the 2014-15 school year.
  • St. Lawrence County Arts Council - $2,000, to support for the Potsdam Plein Arts Festival.

A huge thank you to all those who have worked so diligently on preparing and submitting the papers needed to help raise more of the funding needed to bring our Bridge back!!


FEBRUARY 26, 1014

On February 24, 2014 Town Supervisor Mark Hall held a meeting of the sub-committee heads to discuss current information in planning the rebuilding of the Wanakena footbridge. The following people are heading committees with different responsibilities:

  • Chairman of Overall Committee & Media Relations: Mark Hall
  • Donations & Fund Raising: Allen Ditch & Marsha Smith (Wanakena Historical Association)
  • Grant Identification & Writing: Susan Westbrook
  • Salvage, Design & Construction: Thomas Sauter
  • Regulatory Affairs: Sherman Craig


The contracted architectural firm, Crawford & Stearns cannot provide an accurate estimate on the costs to rebuild the bridge until it is off of the ice. Donations currently total over $6800. Discussions with St. Lawrence County Dept. of Roads continue related to salvage operations prior to melting of river ice.

Donations & Fund Raising: Although a formal campaign to raise funds cannot begin until there is an estimate of costs to rebuild the footbridge, generous donations continue to be received by the WHA through four venues: (1) PayPal / the WHA website; (2) Checks mailed to the WHA; (3) Sales of candy bars donated by The C Shop in Birch Bay Washington and (4) Via donation jars located in local businesses. To date, $6,884 has been collected. Initial anticipated costs include visits and reports by the architectural firm, salvage costs and fees for grant applications.

Historical Status: The NYS St. Lawrence County Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Places (OPRHP) has indicated that a ruling on historical status cannot be made until there are more details about the repairs/rebuilding. After there is a plan, Crawford & Stearns could discuss and negotiate historic status with the OPRHP.

Salvage, Design & Construction: An estimate received from a contractor for salvaging the bridge frozen in the ice was determined to be extremely excessive. It was noted that any salvage operation could result in additional damage to the South Tower of the footbridge. The committee agreed to pursue other possible options with St. Lawrence County Dept of Roads. Specific machinery and materials needed for salvage were discussed and will be conveyed to St. Lawrence County. If the bridge cannot be raised before the ice melts, we will have to wait and hope for a slow melt of the river ice. It is likely that another ice jam would result in additional damage to bridge parts that might have been salvaged, but the cost of salvage operations using a contractor is not cost-effective. It was conveyed that the bridge cables (original to 1902 construction), are set in buried concrete, and should survive a damaging ice-out.

Grant Identification: Advice was received on assessing grant options to ensure that we do not get into a situation where requirements for reporting progress & spending might be overwhelming. Several organizations were discussed for furtherer assessment to apply for a grant, including: ANCA, IDA (St Lawrence River Valley Authority), and CFA. Some of the organizations already contacted are very interested in historic status. There often is a fee associated with applying for different grants. All volunteers will be asked to keep track of the amount of time dedicated to this project, as these donated hours can be used as matching funds for grants.

Regulatory: It has been confirmed that the Wanakena footbridge is not considered in the river corridor, which has stricter regulatory requirements. Which regulations apply to the reconstruction process will not be fully known until more details are identified about the reconstruction process. Committee members have already talked with APA, DEC and the Corps of Engineers.

Communication: Mark Hall agreed that the committee should strive to release updated communiqués on progress and issues at least monthly.


January 20, 1014

6:00 PM Ranger School, Wanakena

Supervisor Mark Hall gave everyone in attendance a brief background of what is going on. All intentions are to rebuild the bridge. The town will move forward with that intention, but it was not insured and the Town of Fine General Fund cannot pay to replace the bridge. It is going to take donations from the community, fundraising and grants to move this project forward.

Supervisor Hall asked that people not feed into rumors that they hear; it wastes energy that will be needed. The town will keep people up to date with any news on the Town of Fine website, Town of Fine Facebook page, the Clifton-Fine Community Development Facebook page and through notices posted on the Wanakena bulletin board. Supervisor Hall has come up with various people to serve as heads of various committees to move the project forward. He informed everyone present that committees can meet and discuss things, but they cannot act on behalf of the town board. Only the town board can enter into contracts, sign grant applications, etc. The committees will be a valuable tool to help the town board, but will not act as the town board.

The heads of the various committees will be as follows:

• Chairman of overall committee and media relations: Mark Hall

• Minutes/Notes from committee meetings: Hope Dolan

• Community Liaison: Kathy Nevil

• Donations & Fundraising: Allen Ditch & Marsha Smith (Wanakena Historical Association)

• Grant Identification & Writing: Susan Westbrook & Heidi Ames (SLC Planning Office)

• Regulatory Affairs: Sherman Craig

• Salvage Design & Construction: Thomas Sauter

Anyone wanting to help out in any of the above mentioned areas can sign up tonight, send an email to Mark Hall, or talk to Kathy Nevil.

Mark explained what needs to happen next:

• Safety is the first priority, need to either brace the bridge or remove it. This is going to take advice from an engineer so that things are done in the safest manner possible.

• Identify anything that is salvageable.

• Pay attention to the historical value and try to keep as much of the bridge as possible.

• Look at the architectural design and plan for future ice jams. This will involve looking at historical data on the water levels set by the dam commission.

• Look at cost and how long it will take to rebuild.​

The town board has agreed to work with Crawford and Sterns on the bridge project. They have worked on historical projects and have worked with the town on the Town Hall in Fine. An engineer may be out to look at the bridge as early as this Friday.

Donations are starting to come in to the Historical Association. They are working on setting up a PayPal account so that people can donate online. Community members had concerns of the cables snapping because they are under so much pressure, and there were people out walking on the bridge this weekend. Mark will try put up some kind of snow fence to keep people off of the bridge.