Erie Canal is an artificial waterway in New York
that runs about 363 miles from Albany on the
Hudson River to Buffalo at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the
Atlantic Ocean to the Great
First proposed in 1808, it was under
construction from 1817 to 1832 and officially opened on October 26,
It was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard
(New York City) and the western interior (Great Lakes) of the
United States that did not require portage
was faster than carts pulled by draft animals, and cut transport
costs by about 95%. The canal fostered a population surge in
western New York state, opened regions farther west to settlement,
and helped New York City become the chief U.S. port. It was
expanded between 1834 and 1862. In 1918, the original canal was
replaced by the larger New
York State Barge Canal
. Today, it is part of the New York State Canal System
2000, the United States Congress designated the Erie Canalway
National Heritage Corridor to recognize the national significance
of the canal system as the most successful and influential
human-built waterway and one of the most important works of civil
engineering and construction in North America. Mainly used by
recreational watercraft in the recent past, the canal saw an
upsurge in commercial traffic in 2008.
1853 Map of New York canals including
the Erie Canal
From the first days of the expansion of the English colonies
along the coast of North
America into the heartland of the continent, a recurring problem
was that of transportation between the coastal ports and the
interior. Close to the seacoast, rivers often provided adequate
waterways, but the presence of the Allegheny Mountains
a few hundred miles
inland presented a great challenge. Passengers and freight had to
travel overland, a journey made more difficult by the rough
condition of the roads. That the principal exportable product of
the Ohio Valley
was grain did not help
matters, as grain was a high-volume, low-priced commodity,
frequently not worth the cost of transporting it to far-away
population centers (this was a factor leading to the Whiskey Rebellion
). In the 18th and early
19th centuries, it became increasingly clear to coastal residents
that the city or state that succeeded in developing a cheap,
reliable route to the West would enjoy considerable economic
success, and that the port at the seaward end of such a route would
see its business increase greatly. In time, projects were devised in Virginia, Maryland,
Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.
Proposal and logistics
The extraordinary success of the Bridgewater Canal
in Britain, completed in
1761, led to a frenzy of canal building in England. The colonial
idea of a canal or artificially improved waterway to tie the east
coast to the new western settlements was in the air: Cadwallader Colden
first proposed using
the Mohawk Valley
George Washington led a serious effort to
turn the Potomac River into a
navigable link to the west, sinking substantial energy and capital
into the Patowmack
Canal from 1785 until his death fourteen years
Colles, who was familiar with the Bridgewater Canal, surveyed
the Mohawk valley and made a presentation to the New York state
legislature in 1784 proposing a canal from Lake Ontario.
The proposal drew attention and some
action, but ultimately came to nothing.
and Elkanah Watson
were other early proponents of
a canal along the Mohawk. Their efforts led to creation of the
Western Inland Lock Navigation Company, which took the first steps
to improve navigation on the Mohawk, but the company proved that
private financing was inadequate.
In 1798, the Niagara Canal Company was incorporated.
The advocate who finally got the canal built was entrepreneur
. He envisioned
growing huge quantities of grain on the Western New York plains,
then largely unsettled, for sale on the Eastern Seaboard
. He went bankrupt
, however, trying to ship it to the coast.
Canandaigua debtors' prison, he started pressing for the
construction of a canal along the Mohawk
Valley. He had strong support from Joseph Ellicott, agent for the Holland Land Company in Batavia.
Ellicott realized that a canal would add
immense value to the land he was selling in the western part of the
state. Ellicott later became the first canal commissioner.
River, a tributary of the Hudson, runs in a glacial meltwater channel across the Appalachians in New York state, separating them into the
Catskills and Adirondacks. The Mohawk Valley was
the only cut across the Appalachians north of Alabama, and led
almost directly from the Hudson River on the east to Lake Ontario
and Lake Erie on the west.
From there, much of the interior
and many settlements would be accessible on the lakes.
Profile of the original canal
The problem was that the land rises about from the Hudson to Lake
Erie. Locks at the time could handle up to , so at least fifty
locks would be required along the canal. Such a canal would cost a
fortune even today; in 1800 the expense was barely imaginable.
called it "a
little short of madness" and rejected it. Nevertheless, Hawley
managed to interest New York Governor DeWitt Clinton
. There was much opposition,
and the project was scorned as "Clinton's Folly," or "Clinton's
Ditch." But in 1817 Clinton got the legislature to appropriate $7
million for construction.
original canal was long, from Albany on the
Hudson to Buffalo on Lake
The channel was a cut wide and deep, with removed soil
piled on the downhill side to form a walkway called the towpath.
Canal boats, up to in draft, were pulled by horses and mules
on the towpath. There was only one towpath,
generally on the north side of the ditch. When canal boats met, the
boat with right-of-way steered to the towpath side of the canal.
The other boat steered toward the berm or heelpath side of the
canal. The driver or "hoggee" (pronounced HO-gee) of the privileged
boat brought his team to the canalside edge of the towpath while
the hoggee of the other boat moved to the outside of the towpath
and stopped his team. His towline would go slack, fall into the
water and sink to the bottom while his boat continued on by
momentum. The privileged boat's team would step over the other
boat's towline, and then their boat would pass over the sunken
towline without stopping. Once clear, the other boat's team would
continue on its way.
The sides of the cut were lined with stone set in clay, and the
bottom also was lined with clay
. The stonework
required hundreds of German mason
, who later built many of New York's famous
Construction began July 4, 1817, at Rome, New
York. The first , from Rome to Utica, opened in
Stonework of Erie Canal lock
(abandoned because of route change), Durhamville, New York
At that rate the canal would not be finished for
thirty years. The main problems were felling trees to clear a path
through virgin forest and moving excavated soil, both of which took
longer than expected, but the builders solved these problems. To
fell a tree, they threw rope over the top branches and winched it
down. They pulled out the stumps with an innovative stump puller. A
pair of huge wheels were set loose on an axle. A large wheel,
barely smaller than the others was fixed to the center of the axle.
A chain was wrapped around the axle and hooked to the stump. A rope
was wrapped around the center wheel and hooked to a team of oxen.
The mechanical advantage obtained ripped the stumps out of the
soil. Soil to be moved was shoveled into large wheelbarrows that
were dumped into mule-pulled carts.
A three-man team with mules could now build a mile in a year,
meaning that the problem now was finding enough labor.
The men who planned and oversaw construction were novices, both as
surveyors and as engineers. There were no civil engineers
in the United States.
and Benjamin Wright
, who laid out the route,
were judges whose experience in surveying was in settling boundary
disputes; Geddes had only used a surveying instrument for a few
hours. Canvass White
was a 27-year-old
amateur engineer who talked Clinton into letting him go to Britain
at his own expense to study the canal system there. Nathan Roberts
was a mathematics
teacher and land speculator.
men "carried the Erie Canal up the Niagara escarpment at Lockport, maneuvered it onto a towering embankment to cross
over Irondequoit Creek, spanned
River on an awesome aqueduct, and
carved a route for it out of the solid rock between Little Falls and Schenectady—and all of those venturesome designs worked
precisely as planned."
(Bernstein, p. 381) Many of the
laborers working on the canal were the Irish who had recently come
to the United States as a group of about 5,000 from Northern
Ireland, most of whom were Protestants and wealthy enough to pay
for this caravan.
Construction continued at an increased rate as new workers arrived.
the canal reached Montezuma
Marsh (at the outlet of Cayuga Lake west of Syracuse), over 1,000 workers died of swamp fever and construction stopped.
Work continued on the downhill side towards the Hudson, and when
the marsh froze in winter, the crews worked to complete the section
across the swamps.
middle section from Utica to Salina (Syracuse) was completed in 1820 and traffic on
that section started up immediately. The eastern section,
from Brockport to Albany, opened on September 10, 1823 to great
Canal, a north-south route from Watervliet on the Hudson to Lake Champlain, opened on the same date.
In 1824, before the canal was completed, a detailed Pocket
Guide for the Tourist and Traveler, Along the Line of the Canals,
and the Interior Commerce of the State of New York
published for the benefit of travelers and land speculators —
possibly America's first tour guide.
After Montezuma Marsh, the next obstacle was crossing the Niagara Escarpment
, an wall of hard
, to rise to the level of Lake Erie.
followed the channel of a creek that had cut a ravine steeply down
the escarpment, with two sets of five locks in a series, giving
rise to the community of Lockport.
These lift-locks had a total lift of ,
exiting into a deeply cut channel. The final leg had to be cut
through another limestone layer, the Onondaga ridge
. Much of that
section was blasted with black powder
The inexperience of the crews often led to accidents, and sometimes
rocks falling on nearby homes.
villages competed to be the terminus: Black Rock, on the Niagara River, and Buffalo, at the eastern tip of Lake
The modern single lock at the Niagara
Buffalo expended great energy to widen and deepen
to make it
navigable and to create a harbor at its mouth. Buffalo won over
Black Rock, and grew into a large city, encompassing its former
Work was completed on October 26, 1825. The event was marked by a
statewide "Grand Celebration," culminating in successive cannon
shots along the length of the canal and the Hudson, a 90-minute
cannonade from Buffalo to New York City. A flotilla of boats, led
by Governor Dewitt Clinton aboard the Seneca Chief
, sailed from Buffalo to New
York City in ten days. Clinton then ceremonially poured Lake Erie
water into New York Harbor to mark the "Wedding of the Waters." On
its return trip, the Seneca Chief brought a keg of Atlantic Ocean
water back to Buffalo to be poured into Lake Erie by Buffalo's
Judge Samuel Wilkeson
, who would
later become mayor.
began on the west side of the Hudson River at Albany, and ran north
to Watervliet, where the Champlain Canal branched off.
Cohoes it turned west along the south shore of the Mohawk
River, crossing to the north side at Crescent and again to the south at
Aqueduct over the Mohawk at
The canal continued west near the south
shore of the Mohawk River all the way to Rome, where the Mohawk
the canal continued west parallel to Wood Creek, which flows from Oneida Lake, and turned southwest and west cross-country to
avoid the lake. From Canastota west it ran roughly along the north (lower) edge of
Escarpment, passing through Syracuse and Rochester.
Lockport the canal turned southwest to rise to the top of the
, using the
ravine of Eighteenmile Creek
continued south-southwest to Pendleton, where it turned west and southwest, mainly using
the channel of Tonawanda
Creek. From Tonawanda south toward Buffalo, it ran
just east of the Niagara River, where it reached its "Western
Terminus" at Little Buffalo Creek (later it became the
Commercial Slip), which discharged
into the Buffalo River just above its
confluence with Lake
With Buffalo's recent re-watering of the
, a water
route from the eastern terminus at Albany to the western terminus
at Buffalo is once again open.
made use of the favorable conditions of New York's unique
topography providing that area with the only break in the Appalachians range south of the St. Lawrence River, and thus allowing for east-west navigation from
the coast to the Great Lakes within US territory.
system thus gave New York State a competitive advantage, helped New
York City develop as an international trade center, and allowed
Buffalo to grow from just 200 settlers in 1820 to more than 18,000
people by 1840. The port of New York became essentially the
Atlantic home port for all of the Midwest.
because of this vital and critical connection that New York State
would become known as the great Empire State
Enlargements and improvements
Problems developed but were quickly solved. Leaks developed along
the entire length of the canal, but these were sealed with a newly
that hardened under water
). Erosion on the
clay bottom proved to be a problem and the speed was limited to
4 mph (6 km/h).
The original design planned for an annual tonnage of 1.5 million
tons (1.36 million tonnes), but this was exceeded immediately. An
ambitious program to improve the canal began in 1834. During this
massive series of construction projects, known as the First
Enlargement, the canal was widened to and deepened to . Locks were
widened and/or rebuilt in new locations, and many new aqueducts
were constructed. The canal was also straightened and slightly
re-routed in some stretches, resulting in the abandonment of short
segments of the original 1825 canal. The First Enlargement was
completed in 1862, with further minor enlargements in later
Today, the reconfiguration of the canal created during the First
Enlargement is commonly referred to as the Improved Erie
or the Old Erie Canal
distinguish it from the canal's modern-day course. Existing remains
of the 1825 canal abandoned during the Enlargement are sometimes
referred to today as Clinton's Ditch
(which was also the
popular nickname for the entire Erie Canal project during its
original 1817-1825 construction).
Upstream view of the downstream lock
(Lock 32, Pittsford, NY) showing gushing water.
Additional feeder canals soon extended the Erie Canal into a
system. These included the Cayuga-Seneca Canal south
to the Finger
Lakes, the Oswego Canal from Three Rivers north to Lake
Ontario at Oswego, and the Champlain Canal from Troy north to Lake
Champlain. From 1833 to 1877, the short Crooked Lake
Canal connected Keuka
Lake and Seneca Lake. The Chemung
Canal connected the south end of Seneca Lake to Elmira in 1833, and was an important route for
Pennsylvania coal and timber into the canal system.
Canal in 1836 connected the Erie Canal at Utica to
Binghamton and caused a business boom in the Chenango River valley.
and Chemung canals linked the Erie with the Susquehanna River
system. The Black River Canal
connected the Black River
to the Erie Canal at Rome
and remained in operation until the 1920s. The Genesee Valley Canal was run along the
River to connect with the Allegheny River at Olean, but the
Allegheny section which would have connected to the Ohio and
Mississippi was never built.
The Genesee Valley Canal was
later abandoned and became the Genesee Valley Canal
In 1903, the New York state legislature authorized construction of
the New York State Barge
as the "Improvement of the Erie, the Oswego, the
Champlain, and the Cayuga and Seneca Canals".In 1905, construction
of the Barge Canal began, which was completed in 1918, at a cost of
$96.7 million.Freight traffic reached a total of 5.2 million tons
by 1951, before declining in the face of combined rail and truck
canal brought travelers to New York City, it took business away
from other ports such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore, Maryland.
Those cities and their states chartered
projects to compete with the Erie Canal. In Pennsylvania, the
Main Line of
Public Works was a combined canal and railroad running west from
Philadelphia to Pittsburgh on the Ohio River, opened
in 1834. In Maryland, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ran
west to Wheeling,
West Virginia, also on the Ohio River, and was completed in
Competition also came from inside New York state. The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad
in 1831, providing a bypass to the slowest part of the canal
between Albany and Schenectady. Other railroads were soon chartered
and built to continue the line west to Buffalo, and in 1842 a
continuous line (which later became the New York Central Railroad
in 1853) was open the whole
way to Buffalo. As the railroad served the same general route as
the canal, but provided for faster travel, passengers soon switched
to it. However as late as 1852, the canal carried thirteen times
more freight tonnage than all the railroads in New York state,
combined; it continued to compete well with the railroads through
1882, when tolls were abolished.
The New York,
West Shore and Buffalo Railway
was completed in 1884, as a
route running closely parallel to both the canal and the New York Central Railroad
However, it went bankrupt and was acquired the next year by the New
The Erie Canal made an immense contribution to the wealth and
importance of New York City, Buffalo, and New York State. Its
impact went much further, increasing trade throughout the nation by
opening eastern and overseas markets to Midwestern farm products
and by enabling migration to the West. New ethnic Irish communities
formed in some towns along its route after completion, as Irish
immigrants were a large portion of labor force involved in its
construction. Earth extracted from the canal was transported to the
New York city area and used as landfill in New York and New Jersey.
A plaque honoring the canal's construction is located in Battery
Park in southern Manhattan
Packet dock in Syracuse c.
Because so many immigrants traveled on the canal, many genealogists
would like to find copies of canal passenger lists. Unfortunately,
apart from the years 1827-1829, canal boat operators were not
required to record or report passenger names to the government,
which, in this case, was the State of New York. Those 1827-1829
passenger lists survive today in the New York State Archives.
However, there may be many untapped sources of traveler
information. For example, after the founder of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon)
, Joseph Smith, Jr.
left Palmyra, New York
for Ohio in 1831, his
mother Lucy Mack Smith
thereafter led hundreds of followers westward on the Erie Canal,
passing through Buffalo, and eventually settling in Salt Lake City
and many towns along the way. Mormon records may list many such
The Canal also helped bind the still-new nation closer to Britain
and Europe. British repeal of the Corn Law
resulted in a huge increase in exports of Midwestern wheat to
Britain. Trade between the US and Canada also increased as a result
of the Corn Law and a reciprocity (free-trade) agreement signed in
1854; much of this trade flowed along the Erie.
Its success also prompted imitation: a rash of canal-building
followed. Also, the many technical hurdles that had to be overcome
made heroes of those whose innovations made the canal possible.
This led to an increased public esteem for practical
Many notable authors wrote about the canal, including Herman Melville
, Frances Trollope
, Nathaniel Hawthorne
, Harriet Beecher Stowe
, Mark Twain
, Samuel Hopkins Adams
and the Marquis de Lafayette
, and many tales
and songs were written about life on the canal. The popular song
by Thomas S. Allen
was written in 1905 to memorialize the
canal's early heyday, when barges were pulled by mules rather than
engines. Chicago, among other Great Lakes cities, recognized the commercial importance of the
canal to its economy, and two West Loop streets are named Canal and
Clinton (for canal proponent DeWitt Clinton).
Concern that erosion caused by logging in the Adirondacks
could silt up the canal
contributed to the creation of another New York National Historic
Landmark, the Adirondack Park
The modern Erie Canal has 34 locks,
which are painted with the blue and gold colors of the New York
State Canal System's parent authority, the Thruway Authority.
In 1918, the Canal was replaced by the larger New York State Barge
Canal. The new canal replaced much of the original route, leaving
many abandoned sections (most notably between Syracuse and Rome).
New digging and flood control technologies allowed engineers to
canalize rivers that the original canal sought to avoid, such as
the Mohawk, Seneca
, and Oneida Lake.
In sections which did not consist of canalized rivers (particularly
between Rochester and Buffalo), the original Erie Canal channel was
enlarged to wide and deep. The expansion allowed barges up to 2,000
tons to use the Canal. This expensive project was politically
unpopular in parts of the state not served by the canal, and failed
to save it from becoming obsolete.
The new alignment began on the Hudson River at the border between
Cohoes and Waterford
, where it
ran northwest with five locks, running into the Mohawk east of
Crescent. While the old Canal ran next to the Mohawk all the way to
Rome, the new canal ran through the river, straightened or widened
where necessary. At Ilion the new
canal left the river for good, but continued to run on a new
alignment parallel to both the river and the old canal to
From Rome, the new route continued almost due west,
merging with Fish Creek
east of its entry into Oneida Lake.
From Oneida Lake, the new canal ran west along the Oneida River
, with cutoffs to shorten the
route. At Three Rivers
Oneida River turns northwest, and was deepened for the Oswego Canal
to Lake Ontario. The new Erie Canal turned south there along the
Seneca River, which turns west near Syracuse and continues west to
a point in the Montezuma Marsh ( ). There the Cayuga and Seneca
Canal continued south with the Seneca River, and the new Erie Canal
again ran parallel to the old Canal along the bottom of the Niagara
Escarpment, in some places running along the Clyde River, and in
some places replacing the old Canal. At Pittsford, southeast of Rochester, the Canal turned west to
run around the south side of Rochester, rather than through
downtown. The Canal currently crosses the Genesee River at the Genesee Valley Park ( ), then rejoins the old path near North Gates.
From there it was
again roughly an upgrade to the original canal, running west to
Lockport. This reach of 64.2 miles from Henrietta to Lockport is
called "the 60-mile level" since there are no locks and the water
level rises only two feet over the entire segment. Diversions from
and to adjacent natural streams along the way are used to maintain
the canal's level. It then runs southwest to Tonawanda
, where the new alignment
discharges into the Niagara River, which is navigable upstream to
the New York Barge Canal
Black Rock Lock
and thence to the
Canal's original "Western Terminus"
at Buffalo's Inner Harbor
The growth of highways and railroads, and the opening of the
Saint Lawrence Seaway
commercial traffic on the canal to decline dramatically during the
second half of the 20th century.
The New York State Canal System
In 1992, the New York State Barge Canal was renamed the New York State Canal System
(including the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca
, Oswego, and Champlain
Canals) and placed under the newly created New York State Canal
, a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority
Canal System is operated using money generated by Thruway
Since the 1990s, the Canal system has been used primarily by
recreational traffic, although a small but growing amount of cargo
traffic still uses it.
the Erie Canal Corridor covers
of navigable water from Lake Champlain to the Capital
Region and west to Buffalo.
The area has a
population of 2.7 million: about 75% of Central and Western New
York's population lives within of the Erie Canal.
The Erie Canal is open to small craft and some larger vessels from
May through November each year. During winter, water is drained
from parts of the canal for maintenance. The Champlain Canal, Lake
Champlain, and the Chambly Canal
in Canada form the
Lakes to Locks Passage
making a tourist attraction of the former waterway linking eastern
Canada to the Erie Canal. In 2006, recreational boating fees were
eliminated to attract more visitors.
Travel on the Canal's middle section (particularly in the Mohawk
Valley) was severely hampered by flooding in late June and early
July 2006. Flood damage to the canal and its facilities was
estimated as at least $15 million.
There were some 42 commercial shipments on the canal in 2008,
compared to 15 such shipments in 2007 and more than 33,000
shipments in 1885, the canal's peak year. According to the New York
Times, the new growth in commercial traffic is due to the rising
cost of diesel fuel. Canal barges can carry a ton of cargo 514
miles on one gallon of diesel fuel, while a gallon allows a train
to haul the same amount of cargo 202 miles and a truck 59 miles.
Canal barges can carry loads up to 3,000 tons and are used to
transport objects that would be too large for road or rail
shipment. The system is served by several commercial towing
The old Erie Canal
The Old Erie Canal and its towpath at
Kirkville, New York, within Old Erie Canal State Historic
On the Erie Canal Aqueduct looking
west below Broad Street, downtown Rochester
Another view looking west, Erie Canal
Aqueduct, downtown Rochester, NY.
This is the south side of the Aqueduct.
The Aqueduct is divided by the concrete support for the Broad
Street Bridge above.
Buffalo's Erie Canal Commercial Slip
Sections of the old Erie Canal abandoned after 1918 are owned by
New York state or have been ceded to or purchased by counties or
municipalities. Many stretches of the old canal have been filled in
to create roads such as Erie Boulevard in Syracuse and Broad Street
and the Rochester Subway
Rochester. A 36-mile (58 km) stretch of the old
canal is preserved by New York State at Old Erie Canal State Historic
Park, and in 1960 the Schoharie
Crossing State Historic Site, a section of the canal in Montgomery
County, was one of the first sites recognized as a
Some municipalities have preserved sections as town or county canal
parks, or have plans to do so. Camillus Erie Canal Park preserves a stretch and plans to restore
Creek Aqueduct, built in 1841 as part of the First Enlargement of
In Camillus Park and some communities, the old
canal has refilled with overgrowth and debris. Proposals have been
made to rehydrate the old canal through downtown Rochester or
Syracuse as a tourist attraction
In Syracuse, the location of the old canal is represented by a
reflecting pool in downtown's Clinton Square and the downtown hosts
a canal barge and weigh lock
now dry. Buffalo's Commercial Slip
is the recently restored and re-watered segment of the canal which
formed its "Western Terminus"
The Erie Canal acts as a tourism destination for tourists from all
over the world. There is even an Erie Canal Cruise company
in Herkimer that operates from mid-May until mid-October with
The cruise goes through the history of the
canal and also takes passengers through Lock 18.
In 2004, the administration of New York Governor George Pataki
was criticized when officials of
New York State Canal Corporation attempted to sell private
development rights to large stretches of the Old Erie Canal to a
single developer for US$
30,000, far less than
the land was worth on the open market. After an investigation by
the Syracuse Post-Standard
newspaper, the Pataki administration nullified the deal.
The creation of a unified, statewide Erie Canal historic trail or
to attract tourism has
been an elusive goal since it was first proposed in the 1990s.
However, many communities along the old Erie Canal have made
progress in establishing parks, improving towpaths and raising
funds for restoration of old canal structures such as locks and
aqueducts. Biking, hiking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing,
horseback riding, canoeing and fishing are among activities
The towpath is a good choice for an easy multi-day bicycle vacation
. Many towns along the way
, motels and
campsites. The website of Parks and Trails New York Canalway
Corridor has information on the canal, and sells a guidebook
(latest edition 2007) with waterproof trail maps and information on
nearby places to eat, sleep or visit spots of historical
Records of the planning, design, construction and administration of
the Erie Canal are vast and can be found in the New York State
Archives. However, genealogists will be disappointed to learn that
except for two years (1827-1829) the State of New York did not
require canal boat operators to maintain or submit passenger
Parks and museums on the old Erie Canal include (East to
The following list of locks
is provided for the current canal, from east to west:
There is no Lock 1 or Lock 31 on the Erie Canal. The
place of "Lock 1" on the passage from the lower Hudson to Lake Erie
is taken by the Federal Lock
just north of Troy, NY, and is not part of the Erie Canal System
||Elevation(upstream / west)
||Elevation(downstream / east)
||Distance to Next Lock(upstream / west)
||E15, data unavailable
||E16, data unavailable
||E17, data unavailable
||E18, data unavailable
||E19, data unavailable
||E20, data unavailable
||E21, data unavailable
||E22, data unavailable
||E23, data unavailable
||E24, data unavailable
|| || E35,
Rock Lock in Niagara
||Commercial Slip at Buffalo River,
- Note: The Black Rock Lock is in
the New York State Barge
Canal, and allows passage beside the Niagara River to the Erie
Canal's "Western Terminus" at the Commercial Slip. Upstream and downstream
water levels, as well as Black Rock Lock's lift, vary with the
naturally fluctuating levels of Lake Erie and the Niagara River.
Although a portion of the Erie Canal through Buffalo has been
filled in, travel by water is still possible, from the
Commercial Slip, through Buffalo's Inner Harbor and the
Black Rock Lock, to Tonawanda, NY,
Lockport, and eastward to Albany.
- Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a
Great Nation, by Peter L. Bernstein, New York : W.W. Norton,
2005, ISBN 0-393-05233-8.
- The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of
Progress, 1817-1862, by Carol Sheriff, New York : Hill and
Wang, 1996, ISBN 0-8090-2753-4.
- "The Story of the New York State Canals: Governor
Dewitt Clinton's Dream" by Roy Finch, 1925
- Bridge Height Tables
- Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American
Empire, by Gerard Koeppel, Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press,
2009, ISBN 0-306-81827-2
Canalway National Heritage Corridor
- Joel Achenbach, "America's River; From Washington and Jefferson
to the Army Corps of Engineers, everyone had grandiose plans to
tame the Potomac. Fortunately for us, they all failed". The
Washington Post, May 5, 2002; p. W.12.
- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/03/nyregion/03erie.html Hints of
Comeback for Nation’s First Superhighway
Commercial Shipping on the New York State Canal system
- National Park Service, National Historic Landmarks Survey, New York,
retrieved May 30, 2007.
- New York State Archives. However, research at libraries,
churches and town halls of the ultimate destinations of canal
travelers may yield passenger information. "Guide to Canal Records."
- Between Locks 33 and 34 the canal rises 2 feet
Images and Maps