Thursday, March 24, 2022

Videos to Accompany "The Erie Canal: A Story of Building the Impossible"

In my presentations about the Erie Canal (e.g., “The Erie Canal: A Story of Building the Impossible”), I often use videos to illustrate specific points. Sometimes I don't have enough time to show them (a full presentation takes at least two hours) so, here they are: 

To surmount the 90' height of Cohoes Falls on the Mohawk River, the builders constructed of a series 19 locks on the original 1825 Erie Canal. Here is Cohoes Falls, as seen from Falls View Park.


If Cohoes Falls wasn’t a big enough obstacle, they had to overcome the Niagara Escarpment at the other end of the state in Lockport. Here is a view of the 614' high Niagara Falls, as seen from the bottom. 

The Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct , originally built in 1844, was restored in 2010. I had a difficult time getting my head around the idea of a canal crossing over on top of a creek or river. This video makes it clear.


Given the unprecedented scope and magnitude of the Erie Canal achievement, it’s hard to imagine how people felt when it was completed in 1825. I use this clip, from Ken Burns’ documentary, Brooklyn Bridge, to analogously convey how people might have felt.


To suggest what life on the Erie Canal was like, I use some excerpts from the 1935 film, The Farmer Takes a Wife. You can view these scenes here.

Most of my presentation focuses on the 19th century Erie Canal. It was replaced by the much bigger New York State Barge Canal. To convey its size, I use a one-minute excerpt from a commercial video, below. The full video (7 minutes), is here.


The original entrance to the Erie Canal from the Hudson River is long since buried. This historical map of Albany shows its location, with a modern map superimposed on it.


Here is a speeded-up video taken from the bow of Lil’ Diamond II going through Erie Canal Lock 18 in Jacksonburg.


Information on upcoming presentations is here.