We have learned while serving our mission here in Palmyra to love and appreciate the Erie Canal. In fact, each time our family members come to visit we take a ride with them on the Erie Canal. As you view the pictures of the Erie Canal and our family (narration typed in black), I will explain some of the history of the canal and why it is so important to New York and to the beginnings of our church (typed in blue).The Erie Canal was began in 1817 and completed in 1825, opening shipping lanes from the east coast to the Great Lakes. It was originally 363 miles long, spanning from the Hudson River at Albany to Lake Erie at Buffalo.
Our daughter and her family from Oregon came to visit us in May. They wait on the bank of the Erie Canal to begin their boat ride. The boats are now powered diesel engines, but originally they were pulled by mules, horses and oxen driven along a towpath by a young boy called a "hoggee".
The Erie Canal was an engineering marvel when it was built. It was dug by men using shovels. Originally it was 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide.
Elder Watts and our newest grandson enjoyed their ride on the canal.When first constructed one of the beauties of the Erie Canal was that it cut transportation costs by 95% and fostered a population surge in Western New York State. New York City became the chief US port.
Our granddaughter (above) and her entire family (below) pronounced the ride a great success! The canal was also a great success, recently recognized as the most successful and influential human built waterways and one of the most important works of civil engineering and construction in North America.
Below are more beautiful pictures of the canal, now called the barge canal after it was enlarged to carry barges in the early 1900s.
These next five pictures show us going through lock 32. It is quite an experience as the boat enters an area enclosed by doors on both ends. When the boat is working its way upstream, as in this case, the lock water is poured in at an amazing rate to bring the water level in the lock up to the same level as the water on the other side of the lock. Once the water is the same level, the door is opened and the boats continue on their journeys.
The original canal had 83 locks to help the boats navigate up and down the river. There is a rise of 568 feet from the Hudson River to Lake Erie.
Our two granddaughters from Minnesota (below) came to visit in September and they enjoyed their ride on the canal. Their ride wasn't as long as Governor Clinton's ride in 1825 when he sailed from Buffalo to New York City. On that occasion, the opening of the totally completed canal, he ceremonially poured Lake Erie water into the New York Harbor to mark the "wedding of the waters".
Our daughter and her husband enjoyed the ride too, and our granddaughters enjoyed their grandpa.
The building (below) is an original barn from the horse, donkey and oxen days of the Erie Canal. The animals would walk for 15 miles on the towpath, a 10 foot path along the banks of the canal. After 15 miles they were allowed to rest in the barn and new animals were brought out to pull the boat.
Lost of ducks make the canal their home.
The Erie Canal also played an important role in early church history. As you can see from this map below, Palmyra was an important city along the route of the Erie Canal. In fact, the original canal was very near the E.B. Grandin bookstore, bindery and print shop where the first copies of the Book of Mormon were published. Because of the fact that the Erie Canal was finished just 4 years before Joseph Smith approached E.B. Grandin to ask him to print the Book of Mormon, it made it possible for supplies, including Grandin's new press to be shipped to Palmyra for a fraction of what the cost would have been prior to the canal being finished.
It is also believed that Alvin, Joseph Smith's older brother helped build the Erie Canal to make a payment on the family farm.