As our quest to see amazing sites in America continued, we stopped at the Erie Canal.  An amazing feat, dug mostly by the Irish with the incentive of whiskey, in 1820’s and completed in 1825.  This canal allowed goods to be transported through the Great Lakes out to the Atlantic Ocean or vice versa. It created an economic boom for New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. And was the inspiration of for “Low Bridge, Everybody Down”.

Today the canal is mostly used for recreational traffic but can still be used to move heavy barges.

Two sizes of Erie Canals
There were two sizes of locks, one for large boats and one for smaller boats.

Step one is to move into the lock and shut the doors.

Water drops in Lock
Lock is full and water starts to drop. The water is pumped out.

Erie canal Water dropping in lock
Water Drops a long way before opening the doors on the other side. And it doesn’t smell all that good.

Watch the doors at the Erie Canal
You can stand above the locks and watch the doors open and close.

Erie Canal lock two
Large doors hold the water back as the center lock removes the water and drops the boat.

Erie Canal
The Family waits for the water to be released and drop the boat.

Walking with the barge as it goes through the canal. This is stage three of 3 locks.


Erie Canal Doors
These doors hold back a tremendous amount of water. When the water is pumped out of the chamber the doors open.

Canal Doors
These massive doors open and close only when the water chambers are empty.


As technologically advanced a society as we are this was a cool process to watch.  And what an amazing feat to be completed in 1825.  There was a small interactive museum and the kids got to play with moving a barge through the locks.

Museum simulation
There was a museum and the kids simulated moving a boat through the locks.

These kids would help the barges though the canal.

Small Original Wooden Barge
Small Original Wooden Barge


Very cool stop.  We recommend this to anyone learning and trying to understand early American ingenuity.  We owe a debt of gratitude to the men who created this canal system.  Although not used today it was a very important stepping stone in American history. Now on to Niagara Falls!