Surveying the Erie
Finding Level Through The Trees
The story of The Erie Canal becomes more interesting the more it's told. Enjoy each of our Classroom Collection video clips, and don't forget to scroll down this page for more images and information!
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Even without errors, the task of finding a level route for a canal in that day was a daunting one. Transits were "line of sight" tools and New York State was a wilderness of trees then. Survey teams consisted of a few men to survey, and a dozen or more axe-men to clear a path through the foliage ahead of them. Their job was to not only find as level a route as possible, but also to make sure there was an adequate water supply that could flow down to the canal to supply its needs. Their success is one of the great engineering feats in American History.