These old stones
Were gracefully crafted
In the early 1920’s
In a huge public work
Laughingly referred to as
Mayor of New York City
Then governor of New York State
De Witt Clinton made this work happen.
People said it couldn’t be done
Connecting NY City
To the great lakes, the Ohio and Mississippi
It took eight years to build
And it got Dewitt Clinton voted out of office.
Six years later as the work neared completion
It got him voted back in again.
And rightfully so
Before the Erie Barge Canal was built
It cost about $67 US dollars to ship a standard bail of goods from the Atlantic seaboard to the continental interior.
After the Erie Barge Canal was built
It cost just $12 US dollars
This is what made New York City
The economic hub
Of the free world
The Canal was basically
A 500-mile long ditch
Filled with water from the Mohawk River
Which it follows across the state.
There were locks like this one
To raise and lower boats
From one level to the next.
In 1918 these old locks were abandoned, as the Mohawk River itself was flood controlled and “canalized” for navigation, to accommodate larger barges.
Most of the Canal has faded and worn away
You can still feel the pride
In the workmanship
Instilled upon these old walls
The barges themselves were pulled along by teams of mules.
The Mule would walk alongside the Canal on what was called a Towpath
Often the Mule’s owner walked with him
The average distance a Man and a Mule were expected to haul a heavily loaded barge in one day?