The Erie Canal

George Washington was the first to realize the importance and
need of canals for the nation\'s development, but never completed his
thought.

On July 4 1817 the Erie Canal was began by Governor DeWitt Clinton a former New York city mayor and US Senate in Rome New York. It took much persistence and determination by Governor DeWitt Clinton to make the Erie Canal a reality. He believed the canal could be dug across the entire state of N.Y. to form a water route through the Appalachian range and become a "Gateway to the West." In 1808 Governor Clinton asked the N.Y legislator to form a Committee to study his idea. After three years the committee recommended the canal be built at an estimate of $5 million. This was delayed because President Madison vetoed the federal assistance for the project and because of the war of 1812. The N.Y. legislator than granted him a huge sum of $6
Million.

The canal was opened on Oct 26, 1825 and referred to as the "eighth wonder of the world." The canal a 363 mile water way 40 feet wide at the top, 28 feet wide at the bottom and only 4 feet deep
it runs from Albany N.Y, to Buffalo N.Y across rivers, valleys, and mountains.

The canal was engineered by only a few engineers in the country, who had no idea how to construct a canal. The canal was constructed and problem solved by trial and error. There were so many invention\'s developed during the construction of the canal like the big two wheeled device to pull trees and roots out of the ground, and a special cement that hardened under water. Many Americans considered it the first school of engineering.

The New Yorkers did not have to wait until the entire canal was completed because it was built in sections and each section was used as completed. It took 2 ˝ years for the first section to be completed from Utica to the Seneca River, the 98 mile middle section opened May 1820. The next section ran eastward to Little Falls opened in 1821. In 1322 the canal reached Schenectady on the east and Rochester on the west. By 1823 the eastward section was completed to Albany and the Hudson River. The last miles were through Lock port completed in 1824 running westward to Buffalo in 1825, were the most difficult to build. At this point there was 7 miles of 30 feet thick limestone rock and flint, which took 2 years to burrow through by blasting rock with explosives. Today it is known to geologists as (Lock Port Dolomite).


GROUND BREAKING/THEIR SALARY- The canal was officially named the "The Erie Canal" but it had other names such as: The Grand Erie Canal, The Great Western Canal, The Big Ditch, The Mother of Cities, The Lifeline Of The Union, The Empire State, Clinton\'s Ditch, Clinton\'s Folly, the governments gutter, the governments gully, and some people called it that Dam Fool Dig.
More than 50 contractors worked on the first 58 miles of work authorized by the commission. The 3,000-4,000 laborers; farmers and immigrants from Europe and Ireland were paid from 37 112 cents to 50 cents per day, using spades and wheelbarrows to carry away the dirt. Some of the farmers decided to use horse drawn plows to break the ground and pull the dirt to the side. Using this method 3 men working with horses or oxen could excavate a mile in one season. Also working like this in a group they were paid 12 1/2 cents per cubic yard of dirt.
One team dug out 3 rods of canal in 5 1/2 days a total of 250 cubic yards of dirt, totaling a wage of $1.88 per day/per team. Today a steam shovel could do this in 30 minutes. The Irish were grateful for this because back home their wage was a dime. They also could make money if the wished by being paid by the amount of dirt they excavate each day.

DISEASES-In the summer of 1819 1,000 men were incapacitated many died between July
and October from Malaria, Pneumonia, and Typhus fever, from the Montezuma swamp land west of Syracuse, which came from