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America’s Canal Heritage

By Linda Tancs

The Erie Canal is America’s most famous man-made waterway. Built between 1817 and 1825, the original Erie Canal traversed 363 miles from Albany to Buffalo. It was the longest artificial waterway and the greatest public works project in North America. It transformed not only engineering but also travel: in 1825 the journey from Albany to Buffalo took two weeks by stagecoach; the canal shortened the journey to five days. It carried more westbound immigrants than any other trans-Appalachian canal, infusing the nation with diversity. Due to its significance, Congress established the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor in 2000. The corridor stretches 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York, from Buffalo to Albany and north along the Champlain Canal to Whitehall. Along the way you’ll find museums, four national parks, 34 national historic landmarks, historic canal sites and vessels, a 100-mile mural trail and more than 200 canal communities to explore.

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