The Erie Canal

by William Brooks

The purpose and effects of the Erie Canal

  • It connects the Hudson River with Lake Erie
  • The West could ship their goods straight to the North along the Erie Canal
  • Made NYC boom because the Hudson River goes through NYC, so goods always end up going through New York.
  • European countries could send their goods to Western America.
  • The South didn't have access to the Erie Canal

The people behind it

  • Immigrants worked for $0.50 a day and a jar of whiskey.
  • Work in the canal was tough and quite dangerous.
  • Irish immigrants came to work because of the potato famine in Ireland
  • More than 5000 immigrants worked on the canal at one point in time.
  • Even Thomas Jefferson supported the canal, "The most gigantic undertaking yet proposed, is that of New York, for drawing the waters of Lake Erie into the Hudson. The expense will be great, but its effect incalculaby powerful of the Atlantic States."

Today's usage of the Erie Canal

  • The canal is used for recreational purposes primarily.
  • Hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing are just a few of the activities locals and tourists do at the Erie Canal.
  • Modern airplanes ship cargo much faster than boats, so the Erie Canal is no longer used for shipping.
  • The canal trip takes 6-7 days to complete.
  • The speed limit on the canal is 5 mph.
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At first, Jefferson was very skeptical that the Erie Canal was even possible to build.

Benefits and disadvantages

  • It was the pinnacle of technology when it was built
  • It revolutionized shipping in the West and North
  • It opened up the interior of the country
  • It must have water to operate, and trains are faster
  • It is quite expensive to maintain


  • Construction began in 1817
  • The 1st section of the canal is opened in 1819
  • The Genesee aqueduct is completed in 1824
  • The Erie Canal is completed on October 26, 1825
  • The total cost of the canal was approximately $200,000,000 counting for inflation.
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DeWitt Clinton," Knowledge is ecstatic in enjoyment, perennial in frame, unlimited in space and indefinite in duration."

DeWitt Clinton was the father of the Erie Canal before his death in 1828, just 3 years after the completion of the canal. He was the governor of New York from 1817 until his death.


  • The canal is 363 miles long
  • It starts in Albany, New York, and it ends in Buffalo, New York
  • It has 83 locks
  • The canal is 4 feet deep
  • It is also 40 feet wide