Erie Canal

Onondaga Historical Association

Canal enthusiasts from all over the world converged on Syracuse this week for the 2017 World Canals Conference. One of the reasons organizers chose central New York is it's intimate history with the Erie Canal, which is celebrating the bicentennial the start of its construction this year.  It’s a canal that forever changed New York State and the rest of the country.

The first hint of a canal goes back to the 1700s, when a fledgling nation looked to unite the country's east coast with its vast interior. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The group working to revamp a 4-mile stretch of Erie Boulevard East in Onondaga County is sharing the results of a survey it launched last year. More than 1,200 surveys were completed about how to best improve the highly trafficked corridor between Syracuse and Dewitt. 

Albany Symphony performing along Erie Canal

Jul 4, 2017
Gary David Gold

New York’s Erie Canal is celebrating its 200th birthday. To mark the occasion, the Albany Symphony Orchestra is holding performances from the canal’s historic beginning in Albany to Lockport in Niagara County.

The first shovels to dig the Erie Canal went into the ground on July 4th, 1817.

When it was completed in 1825, Clinton’s Ditch transformed the state’s economy, allowing goods to pass from the Hudson River to Great Lakes and beyond.

WXXI News

Three massive tanks in the shape of 60-foot-tall beer cans lie on their side on a barge, as a red tugboat pushes them down the last leg of their journey along the Erie Canal.

The Genesee Beer Co. is shipping a total of a dozen of these tanks to Rochester as part of a massive modernization project, and public relations campaign. The fermentation tanks will be used to brew millions of bottles of beer at a time and were too large to ship by truck or train.

eriecanalway.org

The year 2017 could be a good year for the New York State Canal System. The federal government has designated it a National Historic Landmark, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning on integrating it into a proposed statewide hiking and biking route.

The historic landmark designation means the federal government recognizes the role of the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca Canals in the economic development of the United States. 

We've heard a lot about infrastructure during this campaign season, and it's a perennial issue in central New York. This week on the Campbell Conversations, we're joined by Jack Kelly, who has written an intriguing new book on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in American history, and the biggest in upstate New York; the Erie Canal. Kelly’s book is called Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold and Murder on the Erie Canal. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Erie Canalway Trail is a multi-use path which extends 360 miles across upstate New York following the original manmade waterway. But there are still large gaps in the trail that advocacy groups want completed.

There are about 288 miles of trail open to the public, but that leaves about 72 miles that still to need to be completed to connect the project. Greg Francese of Parks & Trails New York said there is money to complete 20 unfinished miles of the gap, but funding is needed for the remainder. He estimates that would  cost about $40 million.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

An elevated museum of sorts, bike trails, a blooming bridge, an outdoor ice skating park. Those are all some of the ideas that have been submitted to the “Elevating Erie” competition, focused on revamping Erie Boulevard East in Onondaga County. Now it’s time for the public to weigh in on potential projects that could turn six drab lanes of traffic into an historic and recreational destination.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Erie Canal Corridor in upstate New York is getting a boost from some federal dollars.

Federal funds from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor will go to 10 education and preservation projects from the Albany area to Buffalo. The $44,000 in grants will leverage an additional $165,000 in private funds to create teachers guides, murals, and historical markers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Before the Erie Canal was dug almost 200 years ago, Syracuse was a swampy village of 250 people. Once that canal opened up commerce between the Hudson River and Lake Erie, the city grew dramatically. It’s this history that the Syracuse and the town of DeWitt want to reclaim, by revitalizing the 14-mile gap in the original canal path, which currently exists between DeWitt and Camillus.

oliver_hine / via Flickr

A sharply divided city argues over whether to keep a major transit link running through downtown, or to route it around the outskirts of town.

It’s nearly the same debate going on today, but this was in the 1920s. Then, Syracuse was arguing over whether to build an elevated rail corridor through downtown, as Dennis Connors, curator of the Onondaga Historical Association explains.

"And there was a whole campaign, the pro-leave it downtown and elevate it, versus the move it out of downtown and put it around the north side of the city," he said.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

Many New Yorkers who live along the Erie Canal are rediscovering the waterway via long-distance bicycle trips.

The recreational trail along the canal is becoming a well-used resource by people living in towns that were built by the canal. And they’re spending money too.

A survey by Parks and Trails New York finds a million and a half people take to the Erie Canal Trail every year. A large majority, nearly 90 percent, of those are bikers.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The Nature Conservancy and other environmental groups are making use of a recently developed DNA sampling technique to determine whether or not any invasive species might be swimming, living or growing in the Oswego River and Erie Canal. By taking hundreds of water samples, the group believes it can slow the growth of invasive species in the state.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Erie Canal and New York's smaller waterways are open for their 190th consecutive season connecting New York Harbor with the Great Lakes and other points west and north.

The 524 miles of waterways drove the rise of upstate New York's cities two centuries ago. Now, the canal is mostly a tourism and recreation path.

New York State Archives & governor.ny.org

All this week, we’ll be bringing you  a series of stories from the documentary about the state of the economy in New York state. "New York in the World" with Garrick Utley will air on WRVO Public Media  Sunday, August 25 at 7 p.m.

Gino Geruntino/WRVO

A dispute is brewing in Oswego over who should get to use some docking space right in the center of town.

George Broadwell owns two hotels, a restaurant and a convention center along the east side of the Oswego River.

Last year, he says he complained to city and state officials about the number of tugs and barges mooring along the river in front of his establishments. Earlier this year, even more tug boats and barges were mooring along the 600 feet of space in front of his property.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

The Lois McClure is a replica of an 1862 canal schooner that's also a floating museum. This summer she's commemorating 19th century transportation history by traveling from Lake Champlain, across the canal system to Buffalo, down the St. Lawrence river to Montreal, and back again.

Barge traffic increases along Erie Canal

Jun 25, 2013
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

New York's Erie Canal is reviving its history to again be an economic corridor for commercial shipping through upstate New York — after decades of being mostly used by recreational boats.

Shipping from Canada is expected to lead to a level of commercial traffic not seen in decades.

J. Stephen Conn / via Flickr

While often seen as an economic lifeline of another era, New York's canals are poised to have a big year for moving freight; almost two centuries after goods were first transported on the upstate New York waterway.

Union, advocates, push back on Canal Corporation layoffs

Feb 20, 2013
Dougtone / via Flickr

The New York Thruway Authority's decision to layoff 234 staff as part of a strategy to address its financial predicament includes the loss of 42 canal workers who maintain 57 locks along the 524-mile length of the Erie Canal that connects the Hudson River to Lake Erie in the west.