Today in History: Erie Canal Opens

| October 26, 2016

161024_news_219x395I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal/Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal/She’s a good ol’ worker and a good ole’ pal/Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal. — Bruce Springsteen, “Erie Canal”

The Boss certainly popularized our understanding of this significant waterway, where low bridges were common and locks were plenty. Men and mules pulled barges as they walked along a typical 15 mile per day tow path. If you check out Springsteen’s lyrics and interesting facts and photos, you’ll get a sense of the magnitude of the work, from the construction of the canal, to the real labor of trade.

Connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River, the Erie Canal opened on October 26, 1825. After more than two years of digging by mostly Irish laborers, the 425-mile long Erie Canal would prove a highly successful and cost effective means not only to transport goods, but to encourage re-settlement in Western New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Responsible for spearheading the project, Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York presided at the opening ceremonies and rode Seneca Chief, the canal boat, all the way from Buffalo to New York City.

The following articles are selected from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.


Interesting Questions: slide+design-Erie+Canal+Opens

  1. What can we learn from a Rothman lantern slide depicting the opening of the Erie Canal?
  2. How did New College approach the teaching of geography, including the region of the Erie Canal Belt?


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