New York State Canal System

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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.

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.

History[edit]

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".[1] In 1905, construction of the Barge Canal began, which was completed in 1918, at a cost of $96.7 million.[2] 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.

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 supply of fresh water[where?] and 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.[3]

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 (4 m) deep, 120 feet wide, with 57 electrically operated locks, and can accommodate vessels up to 2000 tons (1800 metric tons). The canal system is open for navigation generally from May 1 through November 15.

Financial support of the canal system is from tolls collected on the New York State Thruway; since 1992, it is operated by the Thruway Authority's Canal Recreationway Commission. The application of tolls to support the canal and other non-thruway projects is a matter of controversy. Payment of a fee for a permit is required to transverse the locks and lift bridges with motorized craft.[4]

Lock 27, near Lyons, NY

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.

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 the 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.[5] 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.[6] The canal was fully open for the start of the 2012 navigation season.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitford, Noble E. (1922). History of the Barge Canal of New York State. J. B. Lyon Company. p. 14. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  2. ^ Whitford, Noble E. (1922). History of the Barge Canal of New York State. J. B. Lyon Company. p. 557. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  3. ^ "Day Peckinpaugh". Waterford Maritime Historical Society. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  4. ^ "Tolls, Passes and Permits". New York State Canal Corporation. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
  5. ^ "NOTICE TO MARINERS". NY State Canal System. 2011-08-30. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  6. ^ "NOTICE TO MARINERS". NY State Canal System. 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  7. ^ "Notice to Mariners: 2012 Navigation Season – Early Opening". New York State Canal Corporation. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 

External links[edit]