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May 1999


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Phil Lord <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 21 May 1999 09:07:38 -0400
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Probably no state has "canals" more deeply embedded in its past  than New York. 

We are all familiar with the rich history of the Erie Canal, and we can trace that history right up to the present, when a modern canal system continues to serve as an international corridor to the Great Lakes.

Recently a State Museum researcher discovered what is believed to be the very first navigation "canal" ever dug in New York. This site is located in Oneida County, just west of the City of Utica, and dates back to 1730 - almost a century before the Erie Canal!

This site, still located on state canal property 269 years later, represents the symbolic origins of the canal age in New York.

Now you can "follow along" as the discovery evolved; searching for clues in British maps from the 1750s and aerial photographs from the 1930s; narrowing the search in the field to three possible locations, and then finding the surviving evidence in a cornfield narrowly missed by Thurway and Barge Canal construction in the 20th century.

And those interested in Mohawk Valley history in general will find the compendium of every known historic map of the upper Mohawk River of particular utility, many of which are illustrated in the report.

This is a large and data-rich website, presenting the full evidence, analysis and conslusions of the study. To visit the site, go to the New York State Museum website:


and look for the link to the "Oldest Canal".

Philip Lord, Jr.
Acting Chief, Historical Survey
New York State Museum
Albany, NY 12230
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