George Washington was more than just the father of our country: He was also one of the earliest canal builders in American History.
Without this natural miracle, there was no early 19th-century engineering skill that could have made the Erie Canal possible.
It's hard to imagine a time when our Canadian neighbors weren't the friends they are today.
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.
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"!
Steam power had just arrived on the scene; but animal power would continue to propel the Erie's barges during its first century
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.
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.
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!
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.
Canal balladeer George Ward sings and discusses Thomas Allen's composition that became the Erie's trademark song.
No city benefitted more from the completion of the Erie Canal than did New York City at the mouth of the Hudson River.
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.
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.
Passengers were shuttled the 18 miles between Schenectady and Albany, rather than being asked to endure the delays at the sixteen locks there.
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.
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?
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?
A new technology came on the scene just in time to make the enlargement to the Erie's present size possible.
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.
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.
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.
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.