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General Information

Beginning of works: 1817
Completion: 1825
Status: in use

Project Type

Function / usage: Canal

Awards and Distinctions


km Name
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Technical Information


width 12.1 m
total length 584 km
depth 1825: 1.2 m
1862: 2.2 m



French Engineer Vauban suggests canal between Lakes Erie and Ontario.


Cadwallader Colden proposes canal linking Lake Erie and Hudson River.


Christopher Colles proposes improving navigation of Mohawk River.


An act for improving the navigation of the Mohawk river, Wood creek, and the Onondaga river, with a view to opening an inland navigation to Oswego and for extending the same, if practicable, to Lake Erie. Bill defeated.

21 March 1791

Act authorizing survey and estimates for Mohawk and Hudson rivers and Wood creek.


Western Inland Lock Navigation Company Incorporated to open a navigable waterway from Albany to Lakes Seneca and Ontario.
Northern Inland Lock Navigation Company Incorporated to improve navigation between the Hudson and Lake Champlain.
Private firm builds locks to bypass Little Falls. First locks built in U.S.


Private firm builds locks to bypass Little Falls. First locks built in U.S.
First Report of the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company.


Niagara Canal Company incorporated to build a canal between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
Second Report of the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company.

February 1811

Report of the Commissioners appointed to explore the route of inland navigation from Hudson's river to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.


Governor De Witt Clinton's visits the canal.

17 April 1816

New York Legislature passes a canal law.

4 July 1817

Canal construction begins at Rome, New York.

23 October 1819

Middle section of canal opened from Utica to Rome, 96 miles (154 km).

24 November 1819

Champlain Canal opened.

2 July 1822

River boats begin using canal section from Genesee river to Pittsford, with overland connection for several miles during Irondequoit valley embankment completed in October.

October 1822

180 miles (290 km) of canal open from Rochester to Little Falls.

1 October 1823

Eastern section of Canal completed, continuous navigation possible from Genesee River to Albany and Lake Champlain.

6 October 1823

802 foot (243 m) stone aqueduct over Genesee river opened in Rochester.

April 1824

Brockport - Rochester section opened.

26 October 1825

First passage through canal from Lake Erie to New York City.

1832 — 1862

The Erie Canal is deepened to account for increased traffic. Barges carrying up to 240 tons can now pass on the canal.


3 million tons of freight have been transported on the canal.


All tolls are abolished on New York state canals.

1903 — 1918

Decision to again widen the canal to allow for the passage of barges of 3000 t pulled or pushed.


Commercial use on the New York state canals ceases. The canals are used mostly for recreational purposes now.



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