October 27, 1825, the Seneca Chief approaches the stone aqueduct in
"Who comes there?"
"Your brothers from the West, on the waters of the Great Lakes."
"By what means have they been diverted so far from their natural
"Through the channel of the Erie Canal."
"By whose authority and by whom was a work of such magnitude
"By the authority and the enterprise of the people of the State of New York."
The Erie Canal had an enormous impact on New York and America in the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries, and its construction and history was recorded in books, pamphlets and
magazine articles. This section of The Erie Canal web site contains a number of historical
texts relating to the Erie Canal, some as scans of the original documents and some as
transcribed texts. Much of the transcribed material was prepared by University of Rochester
students under the guidance of Morris Pierce, and was formerly available through the
University's History Department web site.
- Texts, including documents, articles, etc.:
- 1797 -- Letter from Robert Fulton to President George Washington
- 1825 -- Memoir : prepared at the request of a Committee of the Common Council of the City of New York, and presented to the Mayor of the City, at the celebration of the completion of the New York Canals / by Cadwallader D. Colden. (Printed by order of the Corporation of New York, by W.A. Davis, 1825)
- 1825 -- Facts and observations in relation to the origin and completion of the Erie canal / by John Rutherford [i.e.: Rutherfurd] (New York, N.B. Holmes, 1825)
- 1829 -- The Great Water Highway through New York State, 1829 (from: A Mirror for Americans; life and manners in the United States, 1790-1870, as recorded by American travelers / edited by Warren S. Tryon. (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1952)
- 1849 -- The Life and Writings of De Witt Clinton / by William W. Campbell (New York : Baker and Scribner, 1849)
- 1852 -- Marco Paul's Voyages and Travels : Erie Canal / by Jacob Abbott (New York : Harper & Brothers, 1852)
- 1877 -- The Erie Canal, and its relations to the City of New York (from: Scribner's monthly, vol. XV, no. 1, Nov. 1877, p. 117-125 (New-York : Scribner & Co.))
- 1896 -- Water-ways from the ocean to the lakes / by Thomas Curtis Clarke (from Scribners Magazine, Vol. XIX, no. 15, 1896, p. 103-113) -- Available as JPEG images or PDF.
- 1904 -- The Projected New Barge Canal of the State of New York / by Thomas W. Symons (from the Smithsonian Report, 1904)
- 1906 -- History of the Canal System of the State of New York : together with brief histories of the canals of the United States and Canada / by Noble E. Whitford ; Supplement to the Annual Report of the State of New York, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1905 (Albany : Brandow Printing Co., 1906)
- 1912 -- The New York State Barge Canal / J. A. Bensel, State Engineer and Surveyor ([Albany, N.Y. : Office of the State Engineer and Surveyor], 1912) -- Available as JPEG images or PDF.
- 1922 -- History of the Barge Canal of New York State / by Noble E. Whitford ; Supplement to the Annual Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor for the Year Ended June 30 1921 (Albany : J. B. Lyon Co., 1922)
- 1923 -- New York's Canal System (from: The American Review of Reviews, Vol. 67, no. 1, Jan. 1923, p. 53-64) -- Available as JPEG images or PDF.
- 1925 -- The Story of the New York State Canals : historical and commercial information / Roy G. Finch (Albany : J. B. Lyon Co., 1925)
- 1961 -- State of New York Report of the Joint Legislative Committee on The Barge Canal (Legislative Document 1961)
- Memoir of De Witt Clinton:
with an appendix, containing numerous documents, illustrative of the principal events
of his life / by David Hosack (New-York : Printed by J. Seymour, 1829) 552 p. ;
PDF file from Internet Archive.
- David S. Bates, Builder of the Genesee Aqueduct in
Rochester and the Locks in Lockport.
- Canvass White -- A biography by Aaron Craig Raphael
- Canvass White -- A brief biography from Whitford's
"History of New York Canals", 1906.
- Benjamin Wright, Father of American civil engineering.
(Also available at:
- Chronology of the Erie Canal