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May 15

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An Iconic Waterway

The Erie Canal introduced a new path to the west by connecting Albany to Buffalo.

When old meets new: the Erie Canal glides peacefully underneath a busy overpass. (via Lauren K. Smith)

When old meets new: the Erie Canal glides peacefully beneath a busy overpass. Boats still use the canal, however; that “stop here” sign is to alert sailors of the lock ahead. (via Lauren K. Smith)

When the Erie Canal was built, it linked the Hudson River to Lake Erie, connecting Albany to Buffalo. That introduced a new path to the west and set the stage for increased trade. 

Stewart: “Your other alternative was crossing over the mountains …very laborious, very small units of cargo, and very hard on the people making the trip.”

That’s Richard Stewart of the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute. He says the canal greatly reduced the cost of shipping, and acted as a conduit for transporting timber, petroleum, agricultural products, and people.

Today trucks take the lead as carriers, but the Erie Canal is enjoying its own comeback… as a recreational and historic resource.

Hear More:

Listen to Richard Stewart describe the extensive canal system in the Great Lakes region.

 Get Schooled:

  • Learn more about the Great Lakes Marine Transportation System in this paper by Richard Stewart
  • Jump into all things Erie Canal on its very own website
  • Explore the effects of the Canal on the communities surrounding it with ErieCanalWay

The Fine Print:

  • This segment was produced with Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, and supported by agreement with New York Sea Grant, funds provided by the Environmental Protection Fund under the authority of the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this broadcast are those of the originators and do not necessarily reflect the views of Stony Brook University or New York Sea Grant.

 

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