The Erie Canal dates back to 1825. The 363 mile long canal stretched from Buffalo to Albany where it met the Hudson River, thus connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. It offered a means of transporting bulk goods which at the time were primarily moved by pack animals. Traffic on the canal peaked around mid-19th century. One of the main commodities that was moved by canal was grain from the midwest headed for eastern markets. Freight boats on the canal were pulled by horses or mules walking along towpaths. Slow, yes, but the canal cut transport time across New York State in half. The canal also was used by passenger boats. It was a key route bringing immigrants from New York City into towns in western New York. It was also used by tourists visiting New York City.
These photos were taken in Lockport, N.Y., the location of locks number 34 and 35 on the canal. Locks are used to raise and lower boats and make waterways more easily navigable. The town of Lockport, N.Y., was established in 1829, a few years after the canal was finished. It runs through the center of the city which is about 30 miles northeast of Buffalo. Its initial inhabitants was mostly Irish and Scottish immigrants who were brought in to work on the locks and remained after the construction was completed. Today it is a town of 20,000. It has actively sought to establish itself as a tourist attraction based on the historic canal.
The canal continues in use to this day. Most of the traffic now is of a recreational nature, although there is still some cargo traffic.