Physical Facts
Length 363 miles
Width at Top 40 feet
Width at Bottom 28 feet
Depth 4 feet
Locks 83
Aqueducts 18

Also known as: Clinton's Ditch, Grand Western Canal, Clinton's Folly, The Big Ditch, Old Erie

Erie Canal construction began on July 4, 1817 and was completed in October 1825. Some parts of the canal were in use by 1819, but the first boat to traverse the entire canal was theSeneca Chief, on October 26, 1825.

The first segment of the canal to be completed was the middle section between Rome and Utica. The first canal boat, the Chief Engineer made the trip on October 22, 1819 in approximately four hours.

The canal's original 83 locks adjusted for the 568 foot difference in elevation between the Hudson River to Lake Erie. (Combined ascent and descent of 675 feet.)

The twenty-two mile Champlain Canal connecting the Hudson to lake Champlain was completed along with the first segment of the Erie.
Canal Pay Scale
Principle Engineer $1500 - $2000 per year
Assistant Engineer $4.00 per day
Contractors $ 0.10 - 0.14 per cubic yard excavated*
Laborers $8.00 - $12.00 per month or $0.50 per day
*removal of rock paid more,
different pay scale for locks and embankments

Cost of construction: $7,143,789.

Total revenue when tolls abolished (1882): $121,461,871

Between 1836 and 1862 the Erie Canal was enlarged to a depth of seven feet to handle increased traffic and allow the passage of heavier freight.

Final stage of improvement began in 1903 and was completed in 1918. The "Barge Canal" was enlarged to 12 - 14 feet deep, 120 - 200 feet wide. It followed the Erie route and other waterways.

canal route
Canal Map showing route
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canal elevation
Canal elevation and lock numbers
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