Jan 7, 2013

Erie Canal, USA

The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, linking Buffalo to the Hudson River near Albany, New York, inaugurated an era of growth for New York. The canal opened a route between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes that encouraged trading and shipping among the states and with foreign countries. It runs about 363 miles (584 km) from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of approximately 565 ft. (169 m). First proposed in 1807, it was under construction from 1817 to 1825 and officially opened on October 26, 1825.

It was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard (New York City) and the western interior (Great Lakes) of the United States that did not require portage, was faster than carts pulled by draft animals, and cut transport costs by about 95%. The canal fostered a population surge in western New York State, opened regions farther west to settlement, and helped New York City become the chief U.S. port. It was enlarged between 1834 and 1862. In 1918, the enlarged canal was replaced by the larger New York State Barge Canal.

Today, it is part of the New York State Canal System. In 2000 the United States Congress designated the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to recognize the national significance of the canal system as the most successful and influential human-built waterway and one of the most important works of civil engineering and construction in North America.  Mainly used by recreational watercraft in the recent past, the canal saw an upsurge in commercial traffic in 2008. (Adapted from Encarta Encyclopedia and Wikipedia)