Author Topic: Visit the Original Erie Canal in your Town, Historical Markers Show the Way  (Read 197 times)

Doug K

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This was a great find, and we are sharing with anyone who's REALLY interested to see the ORIGINAL version of the Erie Canal, and learn more about it's history

The canal system we see today is NOT the original canal used by a Mule named Sal, just an FYI.

The website below has a database that shows all of the Historical Markers for the Erie Canal, along with any others you may care to research throughout the country. And when you view the list of 239 entries of markers related to the Erie Canal, you will see that these are separated into two kinds of Historical Markers... some for the ORIGINAL Erie, and some for the "new & improved" NYS Barge Canal.




https://www.hmdb.org/results.asp?Search=Series&SeriesID=172&Page=1


Here's a few of the Erie Canal Historical Markers that we thought were most interesting:


NO MULES ON THIS CANAL

Located in Rochester, NY, this NYS historical marker states clearly that the NYS Barge Canal, the one currently running along the Empire State Trail, was NEVER built for mules to pull barges. For those that somehow believe otherwise, sorry to "burst your bubble" as they say. This latest version of the "Erie" canal was a commercial waterway, built at the turn of the 20th century, to accomodate steam powered barges & tugs



https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=131796



ERIE CANAL ABANDONED 1920

Here's another from Monroe County, NY, this one in the Town of Brighton. It shows where the original canal "used to be" and states clearly that the new Barge Canal replaced it. Very Clear message here, but unfortunately the original channel is gone at this location, it's now a parking lot.



https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=115306


ERIE CANAL CONSTRUCTION

Another historical marker in Oneida County near Rome, this one does have a small section of original Erie Canal still viewable, but sadly not in great shape. Notice it's channel size is much smaller, and no where near the new Barge Canal location, which bypassed many of these older Erie Canal sections and "original canal ports".



https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=11952


CALAMITY SEPT 28, 1859

One of the more interesting historical markers is about a tightrope walker that was crossing the original Erie Canal in Orleans County, City of Albion. It tells of the death of over 2 dozen people who were part of many onlookers who clambered onto a "low bridge" to watch the event. The bridge gave way and everyone fell into the Erie... horses as well.

Once again, the changes made between the original Erie & new Barge Canals have transformed many of these villages to a point where the original Erie is now replaced by streets named Erie St, Water St, and Canal Rd.

Yes... two canals did exist for a time while when this new one was under construction, but once the Barge Canal was opened the original version was simply filled in in some cases or "left to nature" in others.




https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=78125

So there you have it, a rather easy way to see both old & new Erie Canals, simply by following the long line of NYS Historical Markers that show the two very different routes. Of course there are many Historical Markers for other significant events or places, but for the Erie Canal there are only about 785 and more than 1/3 are in New York State.

And perhaps the best place to see the ORIGINAL Erie Canal, some filled sections and some overgrown channel, is in the Towns & Villages that were "abandoned" along the Erie Canal route when the NYS Barge Canal was created. Towns like Weedsport, Port Byron & Montezuma still have sections of the Erie that can be walked, or paddled in a kayak or canoe, even though the NYS Barge canal bypassed them long ago.

Go read this ECNA Post to see the original Erie Canal we found in central NY, between Port Byron & Weedsport. There are dozens and dozens of Erie Canal Historical Markers east Rochester that show the original route taken, many are just a short ride away from Rochester or Syracuse


https://ecna.createaforum.com/ecna-neighborhood-news/a-search-for-the-erie-canal-of-yesterday-guess-what-we-found/

Doug K

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One of the Erie Canal Historical Markers shows a very unique place to visit, for any Erie Canal enthusiasts. It's in Halfmoon / Clifton Park area, just above Albany and just east of Schenectady, NY. And it's one of the very few places that anyone can see ALL THREE VERSIONS of the Erie Canal.



https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=12059

There are a few other places to visit right in this area, but the fact that within a very easy walk you can see the original Erie canal, and the 1862 Enlarged Erie version side by side is rather unique. Then a quick trip down the path and there's today's Erie Canal, which now utilizes the Mohawk River since the Barge Canal was finished and opened in 1926.

Many of the Erie Canal Historical Markers show the original Erie Canal, and many also showcase the current NYS Erie/Barge Canal & Trail. There are very few that talk about the "middle version" of the Erie, the Civil War era, the enlargement of the canal from the original 40' wide and 4' deep, to a new Canal that was 70' wide and 7' deep.




https://cpheriecanal.omeka.net/exhibits/show/the-erie-canal-in-saratoga-cou/the-erie-canal-in-halfmoon


Here's the Google Map view showing distances around this nature area called Vischer Ferry



https://cliftonparkopenspaces.org/locations/vischersferry/


If you happen to go check this place out, please post some pictures here to share.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2023, 03:16:06 pm by Doug K »