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TEACH Questions & Answers

What canal is between Lake Erie and the Hudson River?
from Cassidy in Jackson, MS, Age 10

Linking Lake Erie and the Hudson River is the Erie Canal, which runs through the Appalachian Mountains. It makes up just a part of the New York system of canals that connect Canadian canals, Lake Champlain, and the St. Lawrence River.

When it opened in 1825 after many failed attempts and technical challenges, the Erie Canal was an engineering marvel. It cost US$7 million at the time to build a new canal that was 363 miles long, 40 feet wide, and four feet deep. The success of the Erie Canal lied in the way it facilitated the westward movement of settlers and traders while allowing entrepreneurs to save money by sending goods by sea instead of over land. In just nine short years, the tolls levied on canal travel allowed the builders to recover their initial investment!

The Erie Canal's success was just part of a canal-building boom in New York in the 1820s. Between 1823 and 1828, several lateral canals opened including the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca. With growing competition from railroads and highways, however, and the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, commercial traffic on the New York State Canal System declined dramatically in the latter part of the 20th century.

Related references:
TEACH: Great Lakes Ports and Shipping
TEACH: Where are all of the locks located in the Great Lakes?
National Canal Museum: Erie Canal
NY: The Erie Canal -- A Brief History

Thank you for your question!

Answered on September 25, 2001

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