In writing a post on local history, I thought it interesting to connect my current location, Syracuse, NY with where I grew up, Buffalo, NY. Buffalo is also where my ancestors settled and stayed for generations.
The Erie Canal is well known in upstate and western New York as the reason cities such as Buffalo, Albany, Utica and Syracuse became prime trade locations and grew so large. Connected to each other by 363 miles of hand- and horse-dug canal. The Canal ended at the Hudson River, where ships head to New York City.
Known as Clinton's Folly, then governor DeWitt Clinton dreamed up the project and used his political savvy to have it created. No one believed something of that mass could be created. The canal was built between 1817 and 1825. The Erie Canal is what made New York City America's largest and busiest port as it connected it to the west. According to http://www.epodunk.com/routes/erie-canal/start.html, "Cities along the route boomed. The population of Syracuse, a swampy settlement of 250 people in 1820, grew to more than 22,000 by 1850. The city's salt industry supplied half the nation's salt.
The Erie Canal lasted until the 1920's, due to the rise of railroads and highways. In Syracuse, the Erie Canal is now Erie Boulevard and is has the Erie Canal Museum. Other parts have trails for hiking, biking and snowmobiling. One can also take a canal boat ride which even goes up and down on the locks. I highly recommend taking a trip if you ever get the opportunity.
Just this week I learned from my great-great-great grandfather Gottlieb Finck's death certificate that he was a canal lock tender. It is thrilling to know that my family played a part in such an important part of our country.