TIMED PLEASE HURRY. Each year the Erie Canal Museum transforms into a festive 1800s canal town street scene with gingerbread creations on display in storefront windows. … Discuss the Erie Canal and how it solved problems caused by the landscape. The canal was enlarged in the mid-1800s, and it continued to be used for freight transportation for decades. The event was lauded as "The Marriage of the Waters.". The town that grew at this site was appropriately named Lockport. A canal linking the Ohio River with Cleveland on Lake Erie was completed in 1833, and a waterway between the Chicago and Illinois rivers was built between 1836 and 1848. One of the problems with the old wooden canal boats was their limited life span. Independent historian. He won preliminary legislative approval in 1816 and was named commissioner for the project. On the eastern section, the lower Mohawk Valley required the construction of 27 locks over only 50 km (30 miles) in order to surmount a series of natural rapids, including those found in Cohoes and Little Falls. Take this quiz. The original 13 states were arranged along the Atlantic coast, and there was a fear that other nations, such as Britain or France, would be able to claim much of the interior of North America. From Thomas Jefferson's papers, Monticello researchers have compiled the following primary source references to the Erie Canal. This is “a falsehood made up to explain a falsehood,” says Dan Ward, former curator at The Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse NY. Old Lithographs, Paintings, Woodcuts, Etc. As more Irish laborers arrived the pace of construction picked up and overcame significant barriers. Test your knowledge. Tell students that in addition to using existing rivers, people in the 1800s could also create canals, or manmade rivers. About this quiz: All the questions on this quiz are based on information that can be found on the page at Erie Canal. ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/building-the-erie-canal-1773705. Its success propelled New York City into a major commercial centre and encouraged canal construction throughout the United States. In a grand ceremony, Clinton and other dignitaries boarded the Seneca Chief in Buffalo and traveled the length of the canal. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. The locks were designed so that each needed only one person for its operation. Adjunct instructor of history, Waynesburg University, Pennsylvania. Steam machinery was not yet available, so workers used techniques that had been used for hundreds of years. It was a dream, and many people scoffed, but when one man, DeWitt Clinton, became involved, the crazy dream started to become reality. But construction finally began on July 4, 1817. History of the Erie Canal This history of the Erie Canal, prepared by the University of Rochester, offers a map of the canal system in 1868, a chart showing the "evolution" of boats, and a timeline. Immigrants leaped from halted canal boats and passed through locks on foot, despite the efforts by contingents of armed militia to stop them. The website might not look like much, but click on "Bibliograhy" to find histories of U.S. canals written in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was built to create a navigable water route from New York City and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. View of Buffalo, on the shore of Lake Erie, before completion of the Erie Canal in 1825. On October 25, 1825, the entire length of the Erie Canal was complete. The Erie required 83 locks, each made of stone, to move boats up and down the natural elevations. The plans for building the canal were delayed by the War of 1812. Instructions: To take the quiz, click on the answer. Swamps and dense forests covered the land. However, the Erie Canal is still used today by recreational watercraft. Chief engineer Benjamin Wright and his corps of self-taught engineers (there were no engineering schools in the United States at that time, though the project prompted several schools to start engineering programs) were successful in overcoming the technological problems faced by the canal, which needed to move boats through more than 150 metres (500 feet) of elevation. He urged the building of a canal. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). The idea of building a canal from the east coast to the interior of North America was proposed by George Washington, who actually attempted such a thing in the 1790s. The canal was 363 miles (584 kilometers) long, … (2020, August 27). He was Amazon.com's first-ever history editor and has bylines in New York, the Chicago Tribune, and other national outlets. President Thomas Jefferson declared the idea "little short of madness", Goods from the west could be taken across the Great Lakes to Buffalo, then on the canal to Albany and New York City, and conceivably even to Europe. John Fitch (1743-1798) was granted a patent for a steamboat on August 26, 1791, the invention of steam power made it far easier to travel along the rivers. The Erie Canal's success was part of a Canal-building boom in New York in the 1820s. The Erie Canal provided the first waterway connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It originally ran 363 miles (584 km) from the Hudson River in Albany to Lake Erie in Buffalo. The statistics of the Erie Canal were impressive: Boats on the canal were pulled by horses on a towpath, though steam-powered boats eventually became standard. ThoughtCo. In this lesson, we're going to look at the major changes brought about by the construction of the Erie Canal. For example, during summer construction in a marsh, 1,000 workers died of swamp fever, so survivors were moved to another part of the canal until winter when it was safer to work in the frozen marsh. And many towns and cities sprang up along the canal, including Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo. New York Governor DeWitt Clinton pouring water from Lake Erie into the Atlantic Ocean to mark the completion of the Erie Canal. Today the canal is generally used as a recreational waterway, and the State of New York is actively engaged in promoting the Erie Canal as a tourist destination. In 1817 the Erie Canal was established under the management of a New York State Commission. Clinton's boat then proceeded down the Hudson to New York City. Lake Erie is 571 feet higher than the level of the Hudson River; locks were built to overcome that difference. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. "[P]eople generally have more feeling for canals & roads than education. The Erie Canal Story In the early 1800’s, Upstate New York was a wilderness. The time to ship goods from Buffalo to New York was shortened from twenty days to six; and the cost per ton reduced from $1… The Erie Canal was the marvel of the age, and it was celebrated in songs, illustrations, paintings, and popular folklore. The canal cost about $7 million, but collecting tolls meant it paid for itself within a decade. During the late 1700s and the early 1800s, many Americans called for a canal that would traverse the Appalachian Mountains. Eventually, railroads and highways superseded the canal. For Ohioans in the early 1800s that solution seemed to be an expensive, somewhat slow moving canal system that could connect with the two major bodies of water around Ohio: Lake Erie that connected farmers with the east coast, and the Ohio River that connected to the Gulf of Mexico. (Jefferson to Joel Barlow). In 1817, following election as governor of New York, Clinton persuaded the state legislature to authorize loans for $7 million to build a canal from Buffalo, on the eastern shore of Lake Erie, to the upper Hudson, passing through the Mohawk Valley region. (Rochester Public Library Local History Division picture file) -- Note that the boat is named "Palmyra". The canal was enlarged in the mid-1800s, and it continued to be used for freight transportation for decades.