Erie Canal Videos

Washington's Pivot

Washington's Pivot George Washington was more than just the father of our country: He was also one of the earliest canal builders in American History.

A Startling Discovery

Washington's Pivot Without this natural miracle, there was no early 19th-century engineering skill that could have made the Erie Canal possible.

War With Canada

Washington's Pivot It's hard to imagine a time when our Canadian neighbors weren't the friends they are today.

The Key Players

The Key Players New York Governor Dewitt Clinton credited Jesse Hawley - whose writings from a debtor's prison in Canandaigua first alerted the Governor to the idea of a canal.

The Great Embankment

The GREAT EMBANKMENT near Rochester, NY In the winter of 1809, a surveyor peered through his transit instrument just east of Rochester, and with a grin gasped a single word: "Eureka"!

Erie Canal Mules

Erie Canal Mules Steam power had just arrived on the scene; but animal power would continue to propel the Erie's barges during its first century

Ellicott's Southern Route

Joseph Ellicott was the resident agent of the Holland Land Company in what would become Western New York State. The Erie Canal was the best thing that could have happened to the Holland Land Company; but Joseph Ellicott still thought he could improve the deal for his employer.

The Flight of Five

Lockport's famous FLIGHT OF FIVE was an engineering marvel in its day. Five locks were needed to make the quick rise of sixty feet at Lockport. To avoid delays, a second flight was constructed right alongside, for traffic moving in the other direction.

Lockport's Deep Cut

The Deep Cut south of Lockport was the last obstacle to be overcome before Lake Erie water could flow eastward. They saved the hardest for last: A thousand workers labored to create a channel in solid rock that was forty-feet deep... for SEVEN MILES!

A Great Depression

There was one depression that actually helped our young country to grow. Depressions are never a good thing of course; but this particular one couldn't have come at a better time for the completion of the Erie Canal.

Fifteen Miles

George Ward sings and discusses the most famous Erie Canal ballad of all. Canal balladeer George Ward sings and discusses Thomas Allen's composition that became the Erie's trademark song.

The Erie's Cities

No city benefitted more from the completion of the Erie Canal than did New York City at the mouth of the Hudson River No city benefitted more from the completion of the Erie Canal than did New York City at the mouth of the Hudson River.

Salt City

Salt deposits near today's Syracuse were important to the Erie's early success. Salt was an essential commodity in the early nineteenth century much as it is today; and it's no accident that the Erie's route included the salt sheds at today's Syracuse.

Erie Canal Bankwatch

New York State has maintained a bankwatch program on the Erie Canal since its earliest days. New York State has maintained a bankwatch program to watch for leaks in the Erie Canal since its earliest days - wherever the canal was above the surrounding grade.

The First Railroad

Passengers faced serious delays at the locks between Schenectady and Albany. Passengers were shuttled the 18 miles between Schenectady and Albany, rather than being asked to endure the delays at the sixteen locks there.

The Village of Delta

What was needed, was a reservoir. The massive locks of the modern NYS Barge Canal were going to need more water than the Mohawk River could provide without help. What was needed was a reservoir.

Concrete Barges

During WWI, when steel was in short supply, they built a fleet of concrete barges for use on the new Barge Canal. The modern Barge Canal was finished just in time for WWI; but steel was in short supply because of the war. The solution? Why not concrete?

Wartime Transition

The federal government took control of the Erie Canal during World War I. The Federal Government took control of the Erie Canal during WWI; but why was it slow to return control to New York State after the war?

Lifting the Bridges

A new technology came on the scene just in time to make the enlargement to the Erie's present size possible. A new technology came on the scene just in time to make the enlargement to the Erie's present size possible.

The End of an Era

Jim Brennan was the oiler on the Day Peckinpaugh motorship. In 1994 the Erie Canal's long commercial success story came to an end. Jim Brennan was the oiler on the last boat to remain in service.

Cracking Pendleton

Each year sees an annual ritual at this and other gates in the Erie Canal. Each spring, this same ritual is repeated here and at other gates like this throughout the system; but none of those are as meaningful as this one near Lockport.

End of Classroom DVD Topics

The topics that follow don't appear on our "The Grand Erie Canal - The Classroom Video Collection" DVD. Some were created after the DVD was completed, and some may still be in progress.

Transit Roads

Two straight roads were cut through the wilderness. Straight roads are common of course, but not many can boast as much history as these two that cross the Erie Canal in Western New York State.