New York State Canal System

The New York State Canal System (formerly known as the New York State Barge Canal) is a successor to the Erie Canal and other canals within New York. Currently, the 525-mile (845 km) system is composed of the Erie Canal, the Oswego Canal, the Cayuga–Seneca Canal, and the Champlain Canal.[2] In 2014 the system was listed as a national historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in its entirety,[1] and in 2016 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.[3]

The Erie Canal connects the Hudson River to Lake Erie; the Cayuga–Seneca Canal connects Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake to the Erie Canal; the Oswego Canal connects the Erie Canal to Lake Ontario; and the Champlain Canal connects the Hudson River to Lake Champlain.

New York State Barge Canal
A canal lock, seen from the front, with the number "30" on large blue and gold posts on either side. The American flag flies from a gantry behind it, and a small boat is in the lock
Lock 30 at Macedon, 2006
Location17 counties in upstate New York
Area36.7 square miles (95 km2)
ArchitectNew York State Engineer's and Surveyor's Office: Edward Bond Austin, Frank Martin Williams, David Alexander Watt, A.A. Conger, William R. Davis
NRHP reference #14000860[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 2014
Designated NHLDDecember 23, 2016
New York State Canal Logo


In 1903 New York State legislature authorized construction of the "New York State Barge Canal" as the "improvement of the Erie, the Oswego, the Champlain and the Cayuga and Seneca Canals".[4] In 1905, construction of the Barge Canal began; it was completed in 1918, at a cost of $96.7 million. [5] It opened to through traffic May 15, 1918.[6] The Barge Canal's new route took advantage of rivers (such as the Mohawk River, Oswego River, Seneca River, Genesee River and Clyde River) that the original Erie Canal builders had avoided, thus bypassing some major cities formerly on the route, such as Syracuse and Rochester. However, particularly in western New York State, the canal system uses the same (enlarged) channel as the original Erie Canal. In 1924 the Barge Canal built the Gowanus Bay Terminal in Brooklyn to handle canal cargo.[7][8]

Present-day Erie Canal near Bushnell's Basin, southeast of Rochester, New York

Since the 1970s, the state has ceased modernizing the system due to the shift to truck transport. The canal is preserved primarily for historical and recreational purposes. Today, very few commercial vessels use the canal; it is mainly used by private pleasure boats, although it also serves as a method of controlling floods. The last regularly scheduled commercial ship operating on the canal was the Day Peckinpaugh, which ceased operation in 1994.[9]

Since 1992, the Barge Canal is no longer known by that name. Individual canals in the New York State Canal System, formerly collectively known as "the Barge Canal," are now referred to by their original names (Erie Canal, Oswego Canal, Cayuga–Seneca Canal, and Champlain Canal). Today, the system's canals are 12 feet (3.7 m) deep and 120 feet (37 m) wide, with 57 electrically operated locks, and can accommodate vessels up to 2,000 tons (1,800 metric tons). The canal system is open for navigation generally from May 1 through November 15. Payment of a fee for a permit is required to traverse the locks and lift bridges with motorized craft.[10]

Lock 27 in Lyons, New York

In 2004, the New York State Canal Corporation reported a total of 122,034 recreational lockings on the canal, along with 8,514 tour boat lockings and 7,369 hire boat lockings, and a total of 12,182 tons of cargo valued at approximately $102 million was shipped on the canal system.

In 2012, the system's annual cargo volume reached 42,000 tons.[11]

Travel on the Canal's middle section (particularly in the Mohawk River valley) was severely hampered during destructive flooding in Upstate New York in late June and early July 2006. Flood damage to the canal system and its facilities was estimated to be at least $15 million.

In 2011, newly elected Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton as director of the Canal Corporation, which runs the Canal System.

At the end of August 2011 Tropical Storm Irene caused closure of almost the entire canal due to flooding.[12] At the beginning of September 2011, Tropical Storm Lee added more flooding to the system. Damage to several locks was severe enough to close the canal from Lock 8 (Scotia) through Lock 17 (Little Falls) from late August.[13] The canal was fully open for the start of the 2012 navigation season.[14]

Over 200,000 tons of cargo is expected for 2017, the largest shipping volume since 1993.[15]

Funding and maintenance

The New York State Canal Corporation is responsible for the oversight, administration and maintenance of the New York State Canal System.[2] In 2012, the Canal Corp., then a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority, employed 529 people, consisting of 458 full-time employees and 78 seasonal workers. Its spending accounted for about 10 percent of the Thruway Authority's total $1.1 billion in annual spending. In 2012, the Canal Corp.'s operating budget was $55.7 million and its capital budget was $51.4 million.[16]

An August 2012 report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the canal system "contributed to the deterioration of the Authority's financial condition over the past decade", even as canal traffic had dropped nearly one-third since the period immediately before the Thruway Authority assumed control.[17]

Effective January 1, 2017, the New York State Canal Corporation became a subsidiary of the New York Power Authority. The move was authorized in April 2016 through the state budget process.[18] Its headquarters then moved from the Thruway Authority's offices to 30 S. Pearl St., Albany, the New York Power Authority's regional offices.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b "National Register of Historic Places listings for October 24, 2014". U.S. National Park Service. October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "About the Canal Corporation". New York State Canal Corporation. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  3. ^ "Weekly list of actions 2/16/2017 through 3/2/2017". National Park Service. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  4. ^ Whitford, Noble E. (1922). History of the Barge Canal of New York State. J. B. Lyon Company. p. 14. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
  5. ^ Whitford, Noble E. (1922). History of the Barge Canal of New York State. J. B. Lyon Company. p. 557. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
  6. ^ Associated Press, "Open Barge Canal Which Connects the Great Lakes With the Hudson River", The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Wednesday 15 May 1918, Volume XLVIII, Number 65, page 1.
  7. ^ Gleason, Gordon (August 1922). "The Worlds Largest Canal Terminal". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS)" (Searchable database). New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2015-11-01. Note: This includes JDuncan Hay and Kathleen LaFrank (April 2014). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: New York State Barge Canal" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-11-01. and Accompanying photographs
  9. ^ "Day Peckinpaugh". Waterford Maritime Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2011-01-16. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
  10. ^ "Tolls, Passes and Permits". New York State Canal Corporation. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
  11. ^ New York State Canal Corporation, Report on Economic Benefits of Non‐Tourism Use of the NYS Canal System
  12. ^ "NOTICE TO MARINERS". NY State Canal System. 2011-08-30. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  13. ^ "NOTICE TO MARINERS". NY State Canal System. 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  14. ^ "Notice to Mariners: 2012 Navigation Season – Early Opening". New York State Canal Corporation. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  15. ^ McKinley, Jesse (May 28, 2017). "Afloat on the Erie Canal: Sonar Gear, Ferris Wheel Parts and Beer Tanks". New York Times. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  16. ^ Meaghan M. McDermott (July 28, 2013). "Watchdog report: Workers 44% of canal's expense". Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  17. ^ "Assessment of the Thruway Authority's Finances and Proposed Toll Increase" (PDF). Office of the State Comptroller. August 2012. p. 8. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  18. ^ "NY Power Authority to absorb canal system". Times Union. 6 April 2016. Retrieved 2017-01-12.
  19. ^ "State Canal Corp. moving headquarters to downtown Albany". Retrieved 2017-01-12.

External links

Allan H. Treman State Marine Park

Allan H. Treman State Marine Park is a 91-acre (0.37 km2) state park and marina located in the City of Ithaca in Tompkins County, New York, United States. The park is located at the south end of Cayuga Lake, one of the 11 Finger Lakes of New York. The park's namesake, Allan Hosie Treman (1899-1975) was a Cornell University law professor, Ithaca city counsel, and member of the Finger Lakes Park Commission.. He is the son of Robert H. Treman, who also has a state park named in his honor.

Cayuga–Seneca Canal

The Cayuga–Seneca Canal is a canal in New York, United States. It is now part of the New York State Canal System.

The Cayuga–Seneca Canal connects the Erie Canal to Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake. It is approximately 20 miles (32 km) long.

Champlain Canal

The Champlain Canal is a 60-mile (97 km) canal that connects the south end of Lake Champlain to the Hudson River in New York. It was simultaneously constructed with the Erie Canal and is now part of the New York State Canal System and the Lakes to Locks Passage.

An earlier proposal made in the late 1700s by Marc Isambard Brunel for a Hudson River - Lake Champlain canal was not approved. Another proposal for the canal was made in 1812 and construction authorized in 1817. By 1818, 12 miles (19 km) were completed, and in 1819 the canal was opened from Fort Edward to Lake Champlain. The canal was officially opened on September 10, 1823. It was an immediate financial success, and carried substantial commercial traffic until the 1970s.

The enlarged barge canal provides a convenient route from the Atlantic Ocean and Hudson River to Lake Champlain for recreational boaters. The canal begins about 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the locks at the Troy Federal Dam, at the point where the Erie Canal splits from the Hudson River. The Champlain Canal follows the Hudson River north for approximately 35 miles (56 km), with six locks providing navigation around dams on the Hudson River, until it reaches lock C-7 in Fort Edward, New York. At this point, the canal follows a constructed channel for approximately 25 miles (40 km), with five additional locks, bringing the canal to the southern end of Lake Champlain at Whitehall, New York.

The elevation on the Hudson River portion increases from 15 feet (4.6 m) above sea level at the southern end, on the northern end of the locks at the Troy Federal Dam, to about 130 feet (40 m) above sea level at lock C-7, where the canal leaves the Hudson River. The elevation of the constructed portion reaches a peak of 140 feet (43 m) above sea level between locks C-9 and C-11, then declines to the level of Lake Champlain, between 94 and 100 feet (29 and 30 m) above sea level, at Whitehall. By traveling the length of Lake Champlain, boaters can access the Chambly Canal, which connects Lake Champlain to the Saint Lawrence River.

Cross Lake

Cross Lake is a lake on the border of Cayuga and Onondaga Counties in New York, United States. The lake lies within the boundaries of the traditional Onondaga Indian Nation, and is reputed in local tradition to be the boyhood home of Hiawatha, the great peace maker. However, Onondaga Lake is also said to be Hiawatha's home.

Cross Lake has a maximum depth of 65 feet and has an average depth of 18 feet. The Seneca River flows west to east through the south end of the lake. Since Cross Lake is part of the New York State Canal System, there are a variety of fish that pass through it. Cross Lake has a flushing rate of 51 times per year; once per week.

Erie Canal

The Erie Canal is a canal in New York, United States that is part of the east–west, cross-state route of the New York State Canal System (formerly known as the New York State Barge Canal). Originally, it ran 363 miles (584 km) from where Albany meets the Hudson River to where Buffalo meets Lake Erie. It was built to create a navigable water route from New York City and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. When completed in 1825, it was the second longest canal in the world (after the Grand Canal in China) and greatly affected the development and economy of New York, New York City, and the United States.The canal was first proposed in the 1780s, then re-proposed in 1807. A survey was authorized, funded, and executed in 1808. Proponents of the project gradually wore down opponents; its construction began in 1817. The canal has 34 numbered locks starting with Black Rock Lock and ending downstream with the Troy Federal Lock. Both are owned by the federal government. It has an elevation difference of about 565 feet (172 m). It opened on October 26, 1825.In a time when bulk goods were limited to pack animals (a 250-pound (113 kg) maximum), and there were no railways, water was the most cost-effective way to ship bulk goods.

The canal was denigrated by its political opponents as "Clinton's Folly" or "Clinton's Big Ditch". It was the first transportation system between the Eastern Seaboard and the western interior of the United States that did not require portage.

It was faster than carts pulled by draft animals and cut transport costs by about 95%. The canal gave New York City's port an incomparable advantage over all other U.S. port cities and ushered in the state's 19th century political and cultural ascendancy. The canal fostered a population surge in western New York and opened regions farther west to settlement. It was enlarged between 1834 and 1862. The canal's peak year was 1855, when 33,000 commercial shipments took place. In 1918, the western part of the canal was enlarged to become part of the New York State Barge Canal, which also extended to the Hudson River running parallel to the eastern half of the Erie Canal.

In 2000, the United States Congress designated the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to recognize the national significance of the canal system as the most successful and influential human-built waterway and one of the most important works of civil engineering and construction in North America. The canal has been mainly used by recreational watercraft since the retirement of the last large commercial ship, Day Peckinpaugh, in 1994. The canal saw a recovery in commercial traffic in 2008.

Federal Dam (Troy)

The Federal Dam is a manmade dam built across the Hudson River in the U.S. state of New York from Troy on the east bank to Green Island on the west bank. The major function of the dam is to improve navigability. It is located at mile 153 of the Hudson River, measuring from the beginning of the Hudson as a Federally Navigable Waterway near the Battery in Manhattan. The location of the dam marks the upper end of the Hudson River estuary.

Frederick Arthur Bagg

Frederick Arthur Bagg (1871 - March 1, 1932) was the engineer who surveyed the route for the New York State Canal System. He was the chief engineer for the Johnstown, Fonda, and Gloverville Railroad.


Gunkholing is a boating term referring to a type of cruising in shallow or shoal water, meandering from place to place, spending the nights in coves. The term refers to the gunk, or mud, typical of the creeks, coves, marshes, sloughs, and rivers that are referred to as gunkholes. While not necessary, gunkholers typically seek out the serenity of isolated anchorages over the crowds of marinas and popular bays, and a minimal draft is preferred, since gunkholers tend to go as far up and into the gunkholes as possible, seeking ever more inaccessible destinations.

Not all boating locales make for good gunkholing. The many inlets, bays, and rivers in places like the San Juan Islands and the Inside Passage can make for ideal gunkholes, as opposed to the relatively inaccessible coastlines of Southern California and Baja. Other locales well-suited to gunkholing include the Intracoastal Waterway, the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, the New York State Canal System, the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and the many canals and rivers of Ontario.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is surrounded on the north, west, and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south and east by the American state of New York, whose water boundaries meet in the middle of the lake. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. Many of Ontario's most populous cities, including Toronto, Canada's most populous city, and Hamilton, are on the lake's northern or western shores. In the Huron language, the name Ontarí'io means "Lake of Shining Waters". Its primary inlet is the Niagara River from Lake Erie. The last in the Great Lakes chain, Lake Ontario serves as the outlet to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River. It is the only Great Lake not to border the state of Michigan.

List of canals in New York

The following canals have existed in New York, United States.

Baldwinsville Canal

Black River Canal

Cayuga and Seneca Canal

Champlain Canal

Chemung Canal

Chenango Canal

Chenango Canal Extension

City Ship Canal

Clark and Skinner Canal

Crooked Lake Canal

Delaware and Hudson Canal

Erie Canal

Evans Ship Canal

Feeder Canal

Genesee Valley Canal

Glens Falls Feeder Canal

Gowanus Canal

Harlem Ship Canal

Hydraulic Canal

Junction Canal

Little Falls Canal

Love Canal (drainage)

Main and Hamburg Canal

Oneida Lake Canal

Oneida River Improvement

Oswego Canal

Scottsville Canal

Seneca River Towing-Path

Shinnecock Canal

Union Ship CanalThe New York State Canal System currently contains several of these canals.

List of navigation authorities in the United States

This List of navigation authorities in the United States is a link list for any navigation authority in the United States.

New York State Canal Corporation

The New York State Canal Corporation is a New York State public-benefit corporation responsible for the oversight, administration and maintenance of the New York State Canal System, which consists of the Erie Canal, Cayuga–Seneca Canal, Oswego Canal and Champlain Canal. It is also involved with the development and maintenance of the New York State Canalway Trail and with the general development and promotion of the Erie Canal Corridor as both a tourist attraction and a working waterway. The canal system totals 524 miles in length, and includes 57 locks and 17 lift bridges. The corporation suggests that canal boat travelers reserve 5 days to traverse the Erie Canal portion of the system.

Oswego Canal

The Oswego Canal is a canal in the New York State Canal System located in New York, United States. Opened in 1828, it is 23.7 miles (38.1 km) in length, and connects the Erie Canal at Three Rivers (near Liverpool) to Lake Ontario at Oswego. The canal has a depth of 14 ft (4.2 m), with seven locks spanning the 118 ft (36 m) change in elevation.

The modern canal essentially follows the route of the Oswego River, canalized with locks & dams. Three locks, with a total lift of 45.6 feet (13.9m) take boats over what had been a steep set of rapids at the city of Oswego. This is the only route from the Atlantic/Hudson River system to Lake Ontario fully within the United States.

Oswego River (New York)

The Oswego River is a river in upstate New York in the United States. It is the second-largest river (after the Niagara River) flowing into Lake Ontario. James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Pathfinder, or The Inland Sea is set in the Oswego River valley.The name Oswego is a Mohawk name that means "flowing out", or specifically, "small water flowing into that which is large".

Port of Albany–Rensselaer

The Port of Albany–Rensselaer, widely known as the Port of Albany, is a port of entry in the United States with facilities on both sides of the Hudson River in Albany and Rensselaer, New York. Private and public port facilities have existed in both cities since the 17th century, with an increase in shipping after the Albany Basin and Erie Canal were built with public funds in 1825.

The port's modern name did not come into widespread use until 1925; the current port was constructed in 1932 under the governorship of Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. It included the largest grain elevator in the world at the time. Today the grain elevator is the largest in the United States east of the Mississippi River; the port has the tallest harbor crane in the state of New York.

The port has rail connections with the Albany Port Railroad, which allows for connections with CSXT and CP Rail. It is near several interstates and the New York State Canal System. The port features several tourist attractions as well, such as USS Slater, the only destroyer escort still afloat in the United States.


A tugboat (also called a towboat or simply a tug) is a type of vessel that maneuvers other vessels by pushing or pulling them either by direct contact or by means of a tow line. Tugs typically move vessels that either are restricted in their ability to maneuver on their own, such as ships in a crowded harbor or a narrow canal, or those that cannot move by themselves, such as barges, disabled ships, log rafts, or oil platforms. Tugboats are powerful for their size and strongly built, and some are ocean-going. Some tugboats serve as icebreakers or salvage boats. Early tugboats had steam engines, but today most have diesel engines. Many tugboats have firefighting monitors, allowing them to assist in firefighting, especially in harbors.

Waterford, New York

Waterford is a town in Saratoga County, New York, United States. The population was 8,515 at the 2000 census. The name of the town is derived from its principal village, also called Waterford. The town and village are in the southeast corner of Saratoga County, and north-northwest of Troy It is located at the junction of the Erie Canal and the Hudson River.

Waterford (village), New York

Waterford is a village in Saratoga County, New York, US. The population was 2,204 at the 2000 census. The name derives from the ford between the mainland and Peebles Island.

The Village of Waterford is located in the southeast part of the Town of Waterford, north-northwest of Troy, New York. The Village is located just north of the falls where the eastbound Mohawk River flows into the southbound Hudson River.

World Canals Conference

The World Canals Conference (WCC) is an annual conference about canals and other waterways worldwide. The first conference took place in 1988, and the 2008 conference was the twenty-first. People with an interest in canals gather together to learn more about them, to exchange views, and to enjoy and celebrate successful canal restoration projects.

The organisation has undergone some name changes. The initial conference in 1988 was known as the "First National Conference on Historic Canals". In 1990, the "national" gave way to the "International Conference on Historic Canals", and in 1996 it became the World Canals Conference.

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