Modern Marvels

Season 7 Episode 22

The Erie Canal

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Aug 14, 2000 on The History Channel
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Episode Summary

The Erie Canal
It was a 363-mile highway linking the western frontier to the Atlantic seaboard. It shaped the history of the nation and transformed New York City from a minor seaport into a commercial capital. THE ERIE CANAL was as important an engineering project as has ever been undertaken. MODERN MARVELSTM ventures back to the early days of the 19th century to tell its complete, captivating story. Despite its ambitious intent, it was originally derided as "Clinton's Folly," referring to New York governor Dewitt Clinton, who spearheaded efforts to create the canal. Just eight years later, in 1825, newspapers declared the recently completed canal "The Eighth Wonder of the World." It immediately proved its worth, generating millions of dollars in tolls, opening up the interior of the state to development and spurring the creation of new towns. For years, it remained the commercial backbone of the region, and today, it is a treasure house of history, an invaluable reminder of a vanished era. From the first shovel of dirt to its survival into the 21st century, this is the extraordinary story of THE ERIE CANAL.moreless
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    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (4)

      • To lessen water turbulence that could erode the Erie Canal's earthen walls, officials set the canal's first legal speed limit at four miles per hour.

      • Word of the Erie Canal's grand opening was relayed from Buffalo to Manhattan by a succession of firing cannons. The cannons, each places within earshot of the next along the canal and the Hudson River, delivered the message in less that an hour and a half.

      • Erie Canal laborers were paid 80 cents a day, nearly double the wage paid to other unskilled laborers in America at that time.

      • The total cost to construct the Erie Canal was $7 million - equivalent to about $3 billion today.

    • QUOTES (0)

    • NOTES (1)

      • Thomas X. Grasso
        Canal Society of New York State

        David L. Dickinson
        Niagara County Historian

        Carol Sheriff
        Author, "The Artificial River"

        Michael N. Vogel
        Buffalo, New York Historian

        Andy Kitzmann
        Assistant Director, Erie Canal Museum

        Robert Carlson
        Tour Boat Captain

        John King
        Retired Engineer, NY Canal Corporation

        Ann L. Buttenwieser
        Author, "Manhattan Water Bound"

        Ed Healy
        Buffalo Niagara Visitors Bureau

        Frank J. Schieppati

        F. Daniel Larkin
        State University of New York at Oneonta

        Mark J. Kaziol
        Curator, Erie Canal Museom

        John Serth
        Professor, Union College

        David Beebe
        President, Camillus Canal Society

        Joel Beyer
        Lockmaster, Lockport, New York

        Mike Murphy
        Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises

        Michael J. Milewski

        Carmella Mantello
        Director, New York State Canal Corporation

    • ALLUSIONS (0)