A “little short of madness.” That is how Thomas Jefferson responded when two delegates from New York approached him with the idea to build the Erie Canal in January 1809.
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Janice Fontanella, site manager of Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in Fort Hunter, New York, joins us to discuss the Erie Canal, its construction, and the impact that this waterway made on New York and the United States. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/028
The Erie Canal directed the course of New York and American history. When it opened in 1825, the “boldest and biggest American engineering project of its century” unlocked the Western interior for trade and settlement. New Yorkers in particular have played a critical role in the Erie Canal story.
The New York State Museum’s curators are currently seeking stories, objects, and images for an upcoming exhibition “New York’s Erie Canal: Gateway to the Nation”, planned for 2017. Continue reading
Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) and the Canalway Trails Association New York (CTANY) have released their fifth annual report, Closing the Gaps: A Progress Report on the Erie Canalway Trail 2014.
The report is intended to update canal corridor communities and national, state, and local decision makers on recent progress and current trail status as well as underscore the need for the resources and political support to ensure the 360-mile Erie Canalway Trail is finished. Continue reading
Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor will again offer its school trip grant program, Ticket to Ride. The grant offers transportation and educational program funding for schools across New York State. By covering bus and tour fees, the program makes it possible for schools to take advantage of first-rate educational field trips to designated museums and historic sites throughout the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. Continue reading
Historian Craig Williams will present a program entitled “The Impact of the Erie Canal on Immigration to Schenectady” at Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction on Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 2 pm.
With the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, some Schenectadians falsely believed that users of the canal would bypass the city without stopping. Instead, the Erie Canal brought Schenectady and other cities across New York State waves of new settlers, immigrants, and workers. The Erie Canal attracted new communities from foreign lands to Schenectady, helping to establish its ethnically diverse heritage. Continue reading
In 1988, a small leather-bound diary was bequeathed to Schoharie Crossing State Historic site by Clarke Blair, who received it from Gertrude Ruck – a descendent of Michael Brown. Brown was one of the brothers that owned and operated the Brown Cash Store located at Lock 30 in Fort Hunter, NY from the mid-19th to early 20th century.
The diarist is unknown – nonetheless, it is obviously a personal journal of a Fort Hunter resident, and references to notable local families, places and events of 1869 fill its yellowed pages. Continue reading
To give canal-related events a boost, the Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor has teamed up with the NYS Canal Corporation to offer a limited number of sponsorships of up to $500 for events or festivals taking place in the National Heritage Corridor from May through November 2015.
Qualifying events must promote or celebrate the distinctive historic, cultural, scenic, or recreational resources of the canal corridor. Eligible applicants include municipalities or nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. Continue reading
Prior to the Revolutionary War, everything west of Albany was mostly wilderness. Safer travel and the promise of land opened this frontier.
The remnants of that frontier on the landscape today from Albany to Buffalo are chronicled in a new book by Lorna Czarnota, Native American & Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York: Westward Trails from Albany to Buffalo (History Press, 2014). Continue reading
The 2014 Researching New York conference, “Identities in New York: Imagining, Constructing, Exploring,” will be held November 20-21, 2014 at the University at Albany.
This year’s conference will feature Richard Norton Smith who will present “On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller” on Thursday evening. The keynote luncheon address on Friday will be “The Making of a Myth: Seneca Falls Unraveled” by Lisa Tetrault of Carnegie Mellon University. On Friday afternoon a live performance by the Capital Repertory Theatre of “The Workers of the Erie Canal: They Built America” will take place in UAlbany’s Performing Arts Center. Continue reading
The Western Erie Canal Alliance, in conjunction with the Landmark Society of Western New York, will present a conference, “Something Old… Something New”, in celebration of historic Main Streets as centerpieces of community economic success.
The conference will take place on Thursday, November 6, 2014 from 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm, at the Fairport Electric building in Fairport, NY, hosted by The Village of Fairport. Continue reading
The National Park Service has announced that it has listed the New York State Barge Canal on the National Register of Historic Places. The designation recognizes the New York State Canal System as a nationally significant work of early twentieth century engineering and construction that affected transportation and maritime commerce for nearly half a century.
The New York State Barge Canal National Register Historic District spans 450 miles and includes the four branches of the state’s canal system: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca canals– all much enlarged versions of waterways that were initially constructed during the 1820s. The nomination evaluated 791 features and included 552 contributing structures and buildings. Continue reading
Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site will celebrate the 189th Birthday of the Erie Canal at its annual Birthday Bash on Sunday, October 26th from 1 to 5 pm. This year will feature rides from Run by Dogs Dogsledding, a pie raffle, and a beard contest, as well as local farmers showcasing their products, a pumpkin decorating contest, cider tasting, and music. Free walking tours will be available at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm.
Schoharie Crossing will also be exhibiting a cannon used to announce the opening of the canal in 1825 that has been loaned by the Fulton County Historical Society’s Fulton County Museum for this occasion. Continue reading
The Landmark Society of Western New York has announced its 2014 Five to Revive – a list of historic sites it has determined to be in need of targeted revitalization. The announcement was made at the Landmark Society headquarters on Fitzhugh St. in Rochester.
“The preservation efforts of The Landmark Society of Western New York continue to be focused on community revitalization,” Executive Director Wayne Goodman said in a statement to the press. “This is the second year we are announcing a Five to Revive list to call attention to key properties in western New York that are in need of investment. We can’t stress enough that these are significant historic properties whose rehabilitations can become catalytic projects for the neighborhoods and communities that surround them.”
The 2014 Five to Revive list includes: Continue reading
It’s been called one of the largest maritime festivals in New York State. For three days, September 5th through the 7th, the Waterford waterfront (just north of Albany) will host the 15th Annual Tugboat Roundup.
A gathering and show place of both working and historic tugs of the Hudson River and New York State Canal system, the Roundup has evolved into a festival of boating at the Gateway to the Canal System. More than 35 boats are expected to be along the wall in Waterford this year, according to Tom Beardsley, Marine Event Coordinator. Continue reading
Entries are being accepted through August 30, 2014 for the 9th annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Winning photos will be featured in the 2015 Erie Canalway calendar, which will be available free of charge in December.
Amateur and professional photographers are invited to submit prints and digital images in four contest categories: Bridges, Buildings and Locks; Fun and Festivities; On the Water; and the Nature of the Canal. Images must be taken within the National Heritage Corridor, which is comprised of the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga/Seneca, and Champlain Canals, their historic alignments, and surrounding communities. Continue reading
The C.L. Churchill, a 50 year old wooden tugboat, has been named Tug of the Year for the 2014 Waterford Tugboat Roundup. The Roundup is an annual three-day event in Waterford, NY highlighting the area’s heritage of waterborne commerce.
The C.L. Churchill is the accompanying tug to the Lois McClure, a replica canal schooner of the type which operated on some of the canals of New York State and Lake Champlain in the 19th century. The Roundup bestows the honorary Tug of the Year title to a different tug each year, typically one that brings its own unique history to the event. Continue reading
Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor has produced a new directory of canal sites and museums to introduce New York State residents and visitors to more than 45 sites all along the NYS Canal System. The directory is available at numerous canal sites and visitor centers along the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca, and Champlain Canals.
Each site showcases a different part of the canal’s legacy—from its famous locks and low bridges, to its transformation of New York State, to the prominent role it continues to play in shaping communities along its shores. Continue reading
Nearly 2,000 fourth graders from the Buffalo Public School District are seeing the Erie Canal first hand this spring, as they study the canal that built Buffalo and made New York the Empire State.
The field trips are the result of the Erie Canalway Ticket to Ride Program, which funds transportation to canal sites and pays for educational programming. Continue reading
In recognition of a near century of service, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor – in collaboration with the NYS Canal Corporation, the Heritage Documentation Program of the National Park Service, and NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation – is sponsoring the nomination of the NYS Barge Canal System to the National Register of Historic Places.
The nomination includes the currently operational New York State Barge Canal, including the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals. The period of significance for the nomination is 1905, when construction began, through 1963. If approved, the historic district will include over 250 structures – every lock, lift bridge, guard gate, and dry dock on the system. Continue reading
The legacy of industry, the can-do spirit that fueled construction of the canal system, and the nationally-recognized architecture in the Canalway Corridor are unique elements of the region’s heritage.
Ideas about how to tap them to fuel investment in the 21st century innovation economy in your community will be presented at Where Canal Meets Commercial Corridor: Unlocking Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Your Downtown, a day-long presentation sponsored by the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor in Buffalo on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Continue reading