Erie Canal Bicentennial

The Construction of the Erie Canal

By Anthony Opalka, Historian for the City of Albany

The original Erie Canal, constructed between 1817 and 1825, connected Albany on the Hudson River, with Buffalo, a small emerging village at the eastern end of Lake Erie. Over 360 miles in length, "Clinton's Ditch," as it was known, provided the first continuous connection by water between the eastern and western ends of New York State, and prior to the advent of the railroad, the canal was the primary means of transporting goods across the state. Today, the Erie Canal and a network of connecting waterways are still in service as America's most iconic and enduring man-made waterway.

The Case for the Erie Canal

Why was the Erie Canal needed? As we celebrate the Erie Canal Bicentennial, let's learn more about how this monumental project got started. Why did people want the canal, and what impact would it eventually have on New York State and the United States as a whole. 

Who paid for the Erie Canal? 

The financial support from the Erie Canal started with General Philip Schuyler, Revolutionary War General. Then, in 1817, the New York State Legislature, at the urging of Governor DeWitt Clinton allocated the $7 M it cost to construct this monumental project. Learn more through the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

How did they build the Erie Canal? 

How was the Erie Canal constructed? Long before powerful equipment, men labored on this Herculean task. As we celebrate the bicentennial of this important waterway, let's learn more about how the project got started, and the daily challenges that faced the men who built the Erie Canal. 

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