constructed in the 1820's. Runs through New York State
from Lake Erie
to the Mohawk River
, eventually flowing into the Hudson River
, New York Harbor
and finally the Atlantic Ocean
At the time of its construction, was a controvertial project. Governor DeWitt Clinton was convinced it would work, however, earning the project the nickname "Clinton's Ditch".
Once complete, the canal worked. It was singly responsible for the expansion and creation of various towns and cities along its route, including Rochester. Small towns opened every fifteen miles or so, providing places for canal travelers to stay after a long day on the water.
The canal (and its system of locks) opened the midwest to eastern markets by providing transportation to New York City, and this before the widespread introduction of rail. Farmers could ship goods to the Great Lakes, where they would be taken by barge through the canal to New York. Taking the Niagara River to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River was impossible because of a little thing called Niagara Falls, so the Canal was a boon to farmers throughout the United States.
After the development of the extensive railroad system, the Canal lessened in importance. Now, with airplanes and automobiles, the whole thing seems almost silly. The Canal is currently being promoted as a recreation area. The state would like to convert the Canal's towpath (along which mules towed barges way back when) into the country's longest multi-purpose trail, suitable for walking, running, biking, and skating. And the canal itself is still used by boaters and swimmers for recreation.
The Erie Canal is part of the New York State Barge Canal system.