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A Power Point presentation featuring images of the Erie Canal in the mid to late 1800's
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A Power Point presentation featuring images of the Erie Canal in the mid to late 1800's


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Power Point presentation featuring images of the old Erie Canal in Fort Plain.

Power Point presentation featuring images of the old Erie Canal in Fort Plain.

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  • 1. The Old Erie Canal with special thanks to Myron Saltsman for his many years of collecting images of the way we were
  • 2.
    • Harvey E. Williams opened the first tin and hardware store in the village in 1827. His home, located in close proximity to the canal and the lift bridge (left rear of photo), was given by his descendants to the Fort Plain Library Association in 1909 as a permanent location for the library that had been chartered in 1894. Because of its history, the library has always taken a particular interest in the Old Erie Canal.
  • 3. Artist’s rendering of Fort Plain with the Erie Canal at the heart of the town
  • 4.
    • In 1817, legislation was passed by the New York State Legislature authorizing the building of the Erie Canal as proposed by Governor DeWitt Clinton. The canal was completed in October of 1825.
    • In addition to opening up a way west for many adventurous settlers, the canal brought prosperity to the many settlements that grew up along its banks. Indeed, Fort Plain’s business district moved from its initial location on Sand Hill to its present downtown area in response to the commerce and industry generated by the canal.
  • 5. Cutting stone to be used in building the canal
  • 6. Building the canal along Hancock Street, currently one of the main entryways into the village on Route 5S
  • 7. Looking down on old Fort Plain with the canal at its center
  • 8. Looking west from the State Street bridge
  • 9. Another view, looking east from the State Street aqueduct
  • 10.
    • The original canal was 363 miles long, 40 feet wide at the surface, 28 feet wide at the bottom, and was 4 feet deep. There were 83 locks on the original canal. By 1835, it was apparent that the canal was too small and, in 1835, work began to enlarge it. When completed in about twenty-five years, the canal was 13 miles shorter, 30 feet wider at the surface, 28 feet wider at the bottom, 3 feet deeper, and had 11 fewer locks. Lock 32, remnants of which remain on private State Street property, was located in Fort Plain.
  • 11. Present day Route 5S and State Street are now located where this Erie Canal lock and towpath once stood
  • 12. State Street’s Lock 32. A sizeable remnant of this lock remains and is presently privately owned and covered by a house and garage
  • 13. Looking east down State Street from the bridge to the lock. The bridge at the background would have been located at what is now the main intersection in Fort Plain at Main and Canal Streets
  • 14. Towpath along Lock 32. The towpath would have run parallel to what is now Route 5S
  • 15.
    • At first, boats were pulled by one mule or horse. As the size of the canal, then the boats, increased, teams increased to two or more. Adult drivers of the teams were paid $12.00 per month with children earning $10.00. They worked two six hour shifts per day. The driver and team changed about every 15 or 20 miles as a vessel traveled along the canal.
  • 16. Canal boats were usually pulled by teams of two or three mules
  • 17. A three mule team
  • 18. Towpath on what is now State Street. The towpath would have been across the park from the library’s River Street entrance
  • 19. Gang plank from canal boat to State Street towpath
  • 20. Aqueducts such as this one carried canal water over a lower level stream
  • 21. State Street aqueduct carrying the canal over the Otsquago Creek. This aqueduct was located across Haslett Park from the library’s River Street entrance
  • 22. Another view of the State Street aqueduct. In the latter half of the 1900’s, early spring waters demolished the remnants of the aqueduct
  • 23. Another view of State Street aqueduct
  • 24. Canal boat passing over State Street aqueduct
  • 25. Redecking an aqueduct
  • 26.
    • A variety of boats traveled the canal. In addition to the passenger, cargo, and pleasure boats, ice breakers, dump scows, circus boats, penny museums, gospel boats or floating churches, book or library boats, and classroom dormitories used for scientific studies could also be found. Floating shops offering the services of tinkers, menders, and salesmen of potions and liniments were also in abundance.
    • Many families lived their entire lives on boats that traveled canal waters.
  • 27. Canal boats were often homes to entire families
  • 28. Housekeeping aboard a canal boat
  • 29. Life on board a canal boat
  • 30. Passengers aboard a Canal boat tied up at the rear of the stores that lined Canal Street. River Street and the current library entrance would have been across the canal
  • 31. A pleasure craft, The Kitty West
  • 32. The A.A. Miller, out of Fort Plain
  • 33. Boat along shore in the vicinity of the present day Elm Tree Hall
  • 34. The launch, San Toy
  • 35. The tug, The George Eldridge
  • 36. Crew painting and caulking one of the many boats that traveled the Canal
  • 37.
    • Towpath walkers or path masters patrolled a ten mile section of the towpath and berm each day. They carried a sack full of hay and manure to be used to plug any leaks that were found. In the village, the walls of the canal were made of stone so that leaks were not that much of a problem.
  • 38. Rear view of stores on Canal Street. The rear of many of these same stores can be seen from the library’s River Street entrance
  • 39. Canal boats lined up in back of stores on Canal Street
  • 40. At the rear of the bakery and other stores on Canal Street. This scene would have been a block down from the present day library
  • 41. Wooden occupation bridge built so that farmers could tend their fields on the other side of the Canal
  • 42. Industry flourished along the banks of the canal
  • 43. Canal boats along side the Fritcher Opera House. The Opera House was across from the Williams House which was later donated to the library association
  • 44.
    • A tremendous number of people provided goods and services to those working and traveling on the canal. At the canal stores, farmers brought hay, oats, and farm produce to be sold to canallers. Canallers purchased these products plus groceries, whiskey, salt mackerel, clothing, sewing supplies, and tools. The stores also supplied fresh water to refill the water barrels on the boats.
  • 45. Fineour’s canal store. The actual building was disassembled and is at the NY State Museum
  • 46. Another view of Fineour’s store
  • 47. Another view of the canal store near Lock 32
  • 48. 1909 photo of Fineour’s store. A replica of the store may be viewed at the Fort Plain Museum
  • 49. The Haymarket Club, an entertainment venue accessible from the canal
  • 50. Wide water summer
  • 51. Wide water winter
  • 52. Boats tied up above lock 32 for the winter
  • 53. The Old Erie
    • The Erie Canal was originally 363 miles long, 40 feet wide at the surface and 28 feet wide at the bottom with a depth of only 4 feet.
    • There were a total of 83 locks that enabled boats to navigate from the Hudson River to Lake Erie, a rise of 568 feet.
    • The canal cost the State of New York $7,143,789 to build and was completed in 1825.
    • The village of Fort Plain thrived as a center of commerce and travel from the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 until the rise of the shopping mall in the 1950’s.