Books and Videorecordings about the Erie Canal
The Erie Canal has been featured in many works of fiction and non-fiction. This selected
bibliography is only a brief sampling. If the works listed are available on the web or have a
related web page, that fact is noted in the description.
- Adams, Samuel Hopkins. The Erie Canal ; illustrated by Leonard
Vosburgh. (Random House, c1953) 182 p. (Landmark books) -- The author's retelling of stories
of the methods of construction and early operation of the canal, told to him by his grandfather
who "had a hand in it."
- Anderson, Patricia. The Course of Empire : the Erie Canal and the New
York landscape, 1825-1875. (Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, c1984) 87 p.
-- The catalogue of an exhibition at the Memorial Art Gallery, June 16-August 12, 1984.
- Andrist, Ralph K. The Erie Canal ; by the editors of American Heritage ;
consultant, Carter Goodrich. (Mahwah, NJ : Troll Associates, c1964) 153 p. (American Heritage
junior library) -- A heavily illustrated history of the Erie Canal for young readers.
- Barnes, Joseph W. Historic Broad Street Bridge and the Erie Canal
Sesquicentennial, 1825-1975. (In Rochester History, vol. XXXVII, no. 3, July
1975) 20 p. -- An illustrated history of the Erie Canal aqueducts in Rochester, the second of
which became the Broad Street bridge. Available in PDF format from the
Central Library of
Rochester and Monroe County web site (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).
- Beebe, David. Camillus, Halfway There. (Camillus, NY : Dr. David
Beebe, c2008) 183 p. (softcover) -- The author's look at the digging of "Clinton's Ditch" and the
First Enlargement of the Erie Canal through modern, humorous stories and canal experiences.
Contains many photos, original research and on site observations. Camillus Erie Canal Park
contains one of each type of structure erected on the Clinton's Ditch and Enlarged Erie Canals.
Dr. Beebe describes how they were constructed and how they function. Dr. Beebe is President
of the Camillus Canal Society.
- Bernstein, Peter L. Wedding of the waters : the Erie Canal and the
making of a great nation. (W.W. Norton & Co., 2005) 272 p. -- "The account of how the
Erie Canal forever changed the course of American history."
- Botzman, Harvey. Erie Canal bicyclist and hiker tour guide. 2nd ed.
(Cyclotour Guide Books, 2000) 272 p. -- A tour guide for people who wish to walk or cycle the
- Bourne, Russell. Floating west : the Erie and other American canals.
(W.W. Norton & Co., c1992) 232 p. -- "The story of American canals and the people who built
- Brunger, Eric and Lionel Wild. The grand canal, New York's first
thruway. (Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, c1964) 20 p. (Adventures in western New
York history ; vol. 12) -- A brief history of the Erie Canal.
- Cadle, Charles L. The canal system of New York State. Re-issued and
revised ... Oct. 1, 1921. (J.B. Lyon Co., 1921) 31 p., map. -- "The purpose of this pamphlet is to
present the public in concise form practical information concerning the navigable waterways of
New York State. It aims to supply answers to questions frequently asked about the canals." --
Mr. Cadle was Superintendent of Public Works for the State of New York
- Campbell, Wallace Hamilton. Canastota and the Erie Canal. (Syracuse,
NY : First Trust & Deposit Co., c1963) 14 p. -- A heavily illustrated and brief history of the
Erie Canal in Canastota, N.Y.
- Chalmers, Harvey, II. The birth of the Erie Canal (with the collaboration
of John H. Flandreau). (Bookman Associates, c1960) 195 p. -- A history of the efforts of a few
intelligent and far-seeing men which were the driving force which led to the construction of the
- Condon, George E. Stars in the water : the story of the Erie Canal.
(Doubleday & Co., 1974) 338 p. -- A history of the Erie Canal and its beginnings in the
style of a literary narrative.
- Doherty, Craig A. and Katherine M. Doherty. The Erie Canal.
(Woodbridge, CT : Blackbirch Press, 1997) 48 p. (Building America) -- A history of the Erie
Canal for young readers.
- Drago, Harry Sinclair. Canal days in America : the history and romance
of old towpaths and waterways. (Bramhall House, 1972) 311 p. -- Includes four chapters on the
- [Erie] Canal Museum. A canalboat primer on the canals of New York
State. (Syracuse, NY : The Canal Museum, c1981) 37 p. -- A heavily illustrated "introduction to
the New York canalboats, their several types, and how and where they were built."
- Erie Canal Museum. Erie Canal Museum : photos from the collection.
(Syracuse, NY : Erie Canal Museum, c1989) 83 p. -- "A sampling of the rich historic
[photographic] resources available at the Erie Canal Museum."
- Erie Canal Museum, Martin Morganstein and Joan H. Cregg. Images of
America : Erie Canal (Arcadia Pub. Co., c2001) 128 p. -- Primarily historical photographs,
illustrating the history of the Erie Canal.
- Finch, Roy G. The Story of the New York State canals : historical and
commercial information. (J. B. Lyon Co., 1925, copyright renewed 1998) 23 p. -- A brief
history of the canal system by the State Engineer. Half the pages are illustrations. Electronic
version available on the New
York State Canal Corporation web site, including a new
which provides a description of the Canal System from a late 20th century perspective.
- Fitzgerald, John R. The New Erie Canal : a recreational guide. (Quest
Press, c1993) 170 p. -- A travel guide and history.
- Garrity, Richard. Canal boatman : my life on upstate waterways.
(Syracuse University Press, c1977) 222 p. -- "A personal memoir of valuable Americana" by a
man who spent his "boyhood on the old Erie Canal and then worked on the Barge Canal in later
- Garrity, Richard G. Recollections of the Erie Canal. (Historical Society
of the Tonawandas, 1971) 60 p. -- Recollections of life on the Old Erie "written in the language
of an old time canaller, spiced with the flavor of the canal and sprinkled with the Garrity Irish
wit and humor."
- Grasso, Thomas X. and Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck. Remembering an
old canal town. (In Rochester History, vol. XLIX, no. 4, Oct. 1987) 31 p. -- An
illustrated history of the Erie Canal in Rochester and the surrounding area, with a driving tour.
Available in PDF format from the
Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County web site (Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Harlow, Alvin F. Old towpaths : the story of the American canal era.
New edition ; with a foreword by Frank B. Thomson (Kennikat Press, 1964) 403 p., 47 p. of
illustrations -- A heavily illustrated history of America's canals, with a chapter on "The building
of the Erie Canal."
- Harness, Cheryl. The Amazing, impossible Erie Canal. (Macmillan
Books for Young Readers, c1995) 32 p. -- A heavily illustrated history of the Erie Canal
intended for young readers.
- Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Canal Boat. (In
New-England Magazine, No. 9, December, 1835, pages 398-409) -- The story of a trip the author
took on a canal boat in 1835.
- Hecht, Roger W. The Erie Canal reader, 1790-1950. (Syracuse
University Press, c2003) 169 p. -- A collection of poems, essays, travelogues and fiction by
major American and British writers about the Erie Canal.
- Holtham, Herbert. An Englishman's journey along America's eastern
waterways : the 1831 illustrated journal of Herbert Holtham's travels / edited by Seymour I.
Schwartz. (Rochester Museum & Science Center and the University of Rochester Press,
2000) 168 p. -- A reproduction of a journal and pen-and-ink drawings of Herbert Holtham, a
Unitarian minister from Brighton, England. The book details Holtham's travels in parts of the
Eastern United States, particularly in New York along the Erie Canal, only six years after the
completion of the canal.
- Kipp, David L. Did you ever have that Erie feeling ...??? : the history and
significance of the Erie and other New York State canals. (Privately printed, c1996) 30 p. -- A
brief history of the Erie and other NYS canals.
- Kitzmann, Andrew P.and the Erie Canal Museum. Erie Canal. (Arcadia
Publishing, 2009) 128 p. -- A compilation of 200 vintage images from the Erie Canal Museum's
documentary collection of New York's canal system, with accompanying descriptions. Also
available is a separate collection of 15 reproduction postcards. For more information, see the
Arcadia Publishing web site.
- Klees, Emerson. The Erie Canal in the Finger Lakes region : the heart of
New York State ; photography by C.S. Kenyon. (Friends of the Finger Lakes Publishing, 1996)
218 p. -- Includes a review of the proposals to build waterways during the 100 years preceding
the canal's completion in 1825, a brief history of the building of the canal, 8 stories that describe
life on the canal, a brief description and history of the villages along the canal, short biographies
of 7 people who were instrumental in the planning and construction of the canal, and an epilogue
about the future of the canal.
- Koeppel, Gerard. Bond of Union : building the Erie Canal and the
American Empire (Da Capo Press, 2009) 454 p., 16 p.of plates -- Tells the complete, sweeping
story of the creation of the canal, and of the memorable characters who turned a visionary plan
into a successful venture. Includes major new findings about the construction of the canal as
well as its enormous impact.
- Kranz, Tom. Cruising guide to the Erie Canal ; editor, Rebecca Smith.
(East Aurora, NY : Longacres-North american Entertainment, Inc., c1990) 128 p. -- A
combination of nautical maps and descriptions of the canal and the surrounding areas.
- Larkin, F. Daniel. New York State Canals: a short history. (Purple
Mountain Press, 1998) 104 p. -- "This accessible history is the first treatment of all of the state's
canals in more than 90 years. Included are the Erie Canal and its laterals ..., Delaware &
Hudson Canal, Junction Canal, Long Island's canal, St. Lawrence Seaway, and New York State
Barge Canal System." See more information at the
Publisher's web site
- Lourie, Peter. Erie Canal : canoeing America's great waterway. (Boyd's
Mills Press, 1997) 48 p. -- The author takes young readers on a journey through history as he
canoes the length of the Erie Canal. Along the way, he recounts the history of the canal, the
story of those who built it, and what it's like to paddle one of America's legendary waterways.
Full-color and archival photographs document the trip and illustrate the historic Erie Canal as it
is today and as it was in its glorious past.
- McFee, Michele A. A Long haul : the story of the New York State Barge
Canal. (Purple Mountain Press, 1998) 221 p. -- A history of the modern canal, which covers "the
canal's day-to-day operation of locks, dams, and reservoirs that guide the flow of water ... [and
contains] ... sections dealing with daily life on the canal, shippers, tugboat captains and
operators, and commodities that were once commonplace on the canal." For more information
see the Publisher's web site.
- McKelvey, Blake. Rochester and the Erie Canal. (In
Rochester History, vol. XI, nos. 3-4, July 1949) 24 p. -- A history of the Erie Canal from the
Rochester perspective. Available in PDF format from the
Central Library of
Rochester and Monroe County web site (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).
- Merrill, Arch. The towpath. (Printed by L. Heindl & Son, 1945)
180 p. -- Stories of the towns and villages along the Erie Canal. "Reprinted from the Democrat
and Chronicle, Rochester, New York."
- Murphy, Dan. The Erie Canal : the ditch that opened a nation. (Buffalo :
Brian Meyer, Western New York Wares, Inc., c2001) 84 p. -- A brief history of the Erie Canal,
with some emphasis on Lockport and western New York.
- Olenick, Andy [and] Richard O. Reisem. Erie Canal legacy :
architectural treasures of the Empire State ; photography, Andy Olenick ; text, Richard O.
Reisem ; publisher, Henry McCartney. (The Landmark Society of Western New York, in
conjunction with the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission, c2000) 208 p. -- Chiefly
photographs of historic buildings and other structures, with text describing the cities, towns and
hamlets in the areas surrounding the canal.
- Oneida Historical Society. The Erie Canal : the story of the digging of
Clinton's Ditch ; designed and composed by the Stinehour Press. (Meriden, Conn. : Meriden
Gravure Co., c1960)  p. -- "Produced to commemorate the exhibition jointly sponsored by
the Oneida Historical Society and Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, at the time of the opening
of the Institute's Museum of Art and the Institute 1850 house museum, 'Fountain Elms' ....".
- O'Reilly, Henry. Settlement in the west : sketches of Rochester; with
incidental notices of western New York. (James Brunner (Geneseo, NY), 1984). -- A
reproduction of the book originally published in Rochester by William Alling, 1838. Pages
175-242 give a detailed history of the Erie Canal and the background of canal development in
New York State. Includes several engravings of the Erie Canal and environs.
- O'Shea, Amelia T. Canals of Albany County. (Freehold, NY : Amelia T.
O'Shea , c2006) 132 p. -- "Explores the route of the Erie and Champlain Canals through Albany
County; and provides brief histories of the communities that grew up along the way." Includes
detailed directions showing where to find the remnants of the canal today.
- Papp, John P. Clinton's $7,000,000 ditch, the Erie Canal, Albany to
Buffalo. (Schenectady, NY : John P. Papp Historical Publications, c1977) [48 p.] -- A reprint of an 1881 report presented to the Western Society of Engineers by McElroy & Son, along with many pictures of canal scenes of various vintages.
- Papp, John. Erie Canal days : a pictorial essay. (Schenectady, NY : John
Papp, c1967)  p. -- 29 historical photographs of the Erie Canal, published on the 150th
anniversary of the start of construction.
- Papp, John P. The traveller's pocket directory and stranger's guide,
exhibiting distances on the Erie Canal and stage routes in the State of New-York. (Schenectady,
NY : John P. Papp Historical Publications, c1978) [101 p., on 51 p.] -- A "Pocket directory to
the Erie Canal"; a reprint of an 1831 publication.
- Perinton Historical Society. Images of America : Perinton, Fairport, and
the Erie Canal (Arcadia Pub. Co., c2001) 128 p. -- Primarily historical photographs, illustrating
the history of the Perinton and Fairport, NY area, including the Erie Canal.
- Phelan, Mary Kay. Waterway west : the story of the Erie Canal ;
illustrated by David Frampton. (Thomas Y. Crowell Co., c1977) 133 p. -- A present-tense
history of the Erie Canal drawing on contemporary journals, letters and documents.
- Rapp, Marvin A. Canal water and whiskey ; tall tales from the Erie
Canal country ; illustrated by Norman Truesdale. (New York : Twayne Publishers, c1965)
189 p. -- Stories and tales having some relationship to the Erie Canal.
- Rossi, Louis. Cycling along the canals of New York State : scenic rides
on the historic waterways of the Empire State. 2nd ed. (Vitesse Press, 2006) 208 p. -- "Explores
the rich history along the many canals of upstate New York. [The author] provides expert
guidance to riding along the Erie Canal and all of its major feeder canals." For more
information, see the Publishers
- Sheriff, Carol. The artificial river : the Erie Canal and the paradox of
progress, 1817-1862. (Hill and Wang, c1996) 251 p. -- "The story of the Erie Canal is the story
of industrial and economic progress between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. [The author]
uses innovative archival research to document the varied responses of ordinary people to this
major environmental, social and cultural transformation ...."
- Spier, Peter. The Erie Canal / illustrated by Peter Spier. (Doubleday,
c1970) 40 p. -- A children's picture book, based on the song "Low Bridge! Everybody Down (or
Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal)" by Thomas S. Allen. Now available as a 2009 reprint by
Heron's Bend Productions.
- Sprague, John S.N. and others. A Preliminary Proposal for a New York
State Canal Museum and Lock Restoration Project. (Buffalo, N.Y. : [distributed by] Henry
Stewart Inc., 1955) -- 17 leaves,  p. -- A proposal to create a living history canal museum at
- Stack, Debbie Daino and Captain Ronald S. Marquisee. The Erie Canal.
(Manlius, NY : Media Artists Inc., c2001) 208 p. (Cruising America's waterways) -- A heavily
illustrated tour of today's Erie Canal with some historical information. Intended as a companion
book to the PBS series "Cruising America's waterways."
- Stein, R. Conrad. The story of the Erie Canal ; illustrated by Keith Neely.
(Littleton, CO : Sonlight Curriculum, 1985) -- 31 p. (Cornerstones of freedom) -- A brief history
of the Erie Canal intended for home schooling of children.
- Strobeck, Katherine M. Port Jackson, an Erie Canal village. (Port
Jackson Publishing Co., 1989) 48 p. -- An illustrated history of Port Jackson and its relation to
the Erie Canal.
- University of Rochester. Memorial Art Gallery. The Erie Canal: thruway
of yesterday : an exhibition featuring the 130th anniversary of the opening of Rochester's first
aqueduct over the Genesee River, October-November-December 1953. (Rochester, N.Y. : The
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, ) 35 p. -- An exhibition catalog, with
descriptions of the paintings and other items in the exhibition.
- Veeder, David H. Fort Hunter - "Canal-Town, U.S.A." (Fort Hunter, N.Y.
: Fort Hunter Canal Society ; printed by The Noteworthy Co., Amsterdam, N.Y., c1968) 18 p.
[Cover title: The Original Erie Canal at Fort Hunter.] -- A history of the rich Erie Canal legacy of
the Fort Hunter area.
- Walker, Barbara K. and Warren S. The Erie Canal: gateway to empire ;
selected source materials for college research papers. (D.C. Heath and Co., c1963) 113 p. --
Extracts from 30 primary and secondary sources of information on the Erie Canal, arranged in
chronological order based on the sequence of the events described.
- Whitford, Noble E. History of the Canal System of the State of New
York, together with brief histories of the canals of the United States and Canada. (Albany :
Brandow Printing Co.,1906) (Supplement to the Annual report of the State Engineer and
Surveyor of the State of New York, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1905) -- 2 vols.,
- Whitford, Noble E. History of the Barge Canal of New York State.
(Albany : J.B. Lyon Co., 1922) (Supplement to the Annual report of the State Engineer and
Surveyor for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1921) 610 p., illustrated.
- Wyld, Lionel D. 40' x 28' x 4' : the Erie Canal -- 150 years ; edited by
Lionel D. Wyld. (Rome, NY : Oneida County Erie Canal Commemoration Commission, 1967)
54 p. -- A collection of articles on the construction of the Erie Canal and the celebration of its
- Wyld, Lionel D. Boaters and broomsticks : tales & historical lore of the
Erie Canal. (North Country Books, c1986) 151 p. -- A little historical background and a lot of
tales about the Erie Canal.
- Wyld, Lionel D. The Erie Canal : a bibliography. Revised ed.
(Cumberland, RI : Darcy Associates, c1978) 19 p. (Canal Society of New York State series) -- A
list of books, articles and other pieces dealing with the Erie Canal.
- Wyld, Lionel D. Low bridge! : folklore and the Erie Canal. (Syracuse
University Press, 1962) 212 p. -- "A kind of folklorist's tour on the one hand and a literary
history on the other."
Fiction and Literature
- Abbott, Jacob. Marco Paul's Travels on the Erie Canal. (Harper &
Brothers, 1852) 203 p. -- A fictional account of a 12-year-old boy and his journey on the Erie
canal (part of a series, entitled: Marco Paul's Adventures in the Pursuit of Knowledge).
- Best, Herbert. Watergate : a story of the Irish on the Erie Canal /
illustrated by Erick Berry. (John C. Winston Co., c1951) 240 p. (Land of the free series) -- The
story of the life of a young Irish "hoggee" on the Erie Canal.
- Chalmers, Harvey, II. How the Irish built the Erie. (Bookman
Associates, c1964) 190 p. -- A fictionalized history of the construction of the Erie Canal and the
part the Irish played.
- Hilts, Len. Timmy O'Dowd and the big ditch : a story of the glory days
on the Old Erie Canal. (Gulliver Books, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, c1988) 91 p. -- A story for
young readers "of young Timmy O'Dowd and his adventures during the early days of the Erie
- Meadowcroft, Enid La Monte. Along the Erie towpath / illustrated by
Ninon MacKnight. (Thomas Y. Crowell Co., c1940) 227 p. -- A story for young readers about
two children's adventures traveling along the Erie Canal.
- Meadowcroft, Enid La Monte. We were there at the opening of the Erie
Canal ; historical consultant: Sylvester Vigilante ; illustrated by Gerald McCann. (Grosset
& Dunlap, c1958) 182 p. -- A story for young readers about the construction and opening
of the Erie Canal.
- Rapp, Marvin A. Canal Water and Whiskey: tall tales from the Erie
Canal country. (Western New York Heritage Institute, Canisius College, c1992) 398 p. -- A
collection of historical vignettes, tales, poems, and songs relating to the Erie Canal.
- Willis, Robert. Molly's Hannibal : a story of the Erie Canal ; illustrated
by Ursula Koering. (Follett Publishing Co., c1957) 128 p. -- A story for children of a young girl
"hoggee" and her mule which pulled the family's canal boat.
- Wilson, Jane G. A Pair of Winners. (1st Books, 2001) 101 p. -- A
fictional account of a family's journey from Connecticut to Rochester via the Erie Canal. This
book is based in part on a journey made by the author's great-great-grandfather and family in
- Canal Towns. (WXXI, c2000) VHS ; 62 min. -- Originally aired on
WXXI on September 9, 2000. -- Videorecording includes a 19 minute presentation: The Making
of Erie Canal Legacy.
- The Era of the Erie Canal.
( Low Bridge Productions, c2005-
) DVD+R ; approx. 30 min. each. -- A series of videos on various aspects of Erie
- Episode 1- BANKWATCH: Meet "Sneakers" Ashbery -- The story of how an
84-year-old man walks over ten miles each day to safeguard just one stretch of the Erie
- Episode 2 - LOCK TIDE: Behind the scenes at the Erie's locks -- The story of how boats
travel uphill on the engineering miracle called the Erie Canal.
- Episode 3 - A "DAY" TO REMEMBER: A motor barge comes home -- The story of
how the Day Peckinpaugh was acquired and transported from Erie, PA to the Hudson
River in 2005 by the NYS Museum and the New York State Canal Society for eventual
conversion into a floating canal museum.
- Episode 4 - LOCKPORT REMEMBERS: A special commemorative program --
Lockport remembers the "Wedding of the waters."
- Episode 5 - ELECTRIC BRIDGES -- [not yet published]
- The Grand Erie Canal : Classroom Video Collection.
( Low Bridge Productions,
c2005-2009) DVD ; approx. 62 min. -- A video history of the Erie Canal, from the
initial proposals for a canal to the present day operation of the canal. Includes glimpses
of a number of sidelights: the preference for mules over horses for towing early canal
boats, economic considerations, wartime effects, and the nature of canal boats.
- Modern Marvels : the Erie Canal. (The History Channel, c2000) VHS ;
approx. 50 min. -- Originally aired on the History Channel on August 14, 2000.
- Along the Erie Canal, with Tom Grasso / a film by Pacho Lane.
( Ethnoscope Film and Video, c2002) DVD ; 37 min. -- From Albany to Buffalo, and from 1825 into the 21st century, the Erie Canal has made American history. Tom Grasso, President of the Canal Society of New York State, takes us on a tour of the Canal, past and present. Part I: The Importance of Waterways ; Part II: The Original Erie ; Part III: The Enlarged Erie ; Part IV: The Barge Canal. Includes bonus feature: Carousel Menagerie, 24 min.
- The Erie Canal : Albany to Buffalo. (Media Artists Inc., c2002) DVD ; 3
episodes, 25 min. each -- Three episodes of the PBS series: Cruising America's Waterways; gives
a brief history of the Erie Canal, followed by a description of a tour of the Erie Canal today and
nearby tourist attractions.
- History of the Erie Canal. (Erie Canal Museum, undated) DVD ; approx.
- A Sailors' Guide to the Erie Canal. (Storytell Pictures LLC, c2006) DVD
; 60 min. -- "A close-up look at some of the things you'll need to know for a successful canal
cruise. You'll travel from one end to the other without casting off. But when you do embark
you'll be better prepared." For more information, see the
Publishers web site.