Fun Facts About the Erie Canal

On Tues Sept 22, I decided to go to the Clarendon Historical Society where Doug Farley, Director of the Erie Canal Discovery Center in Lockport, NY gave an entertaining, interactive presentation on some fun facts about the Erie Canal. During a portion of the presentation, we were quizzed on our knowledge of the Erie Canal to determine whether we were smarter than today’s fourth graders.

For example, did you know?

  • It took 8 years to build the Erie Canal? The original Erie Canal was constructed between 1817 and 1825.
  • The Erie Canal is 363 miles long?
  • The Erie Canal spans from Albany to Buffalo?
  • There are 83 locks to solve the difference in elevation from near seal level on the Hudson River to 565 feet at Lake Erie?
  • More than 300 bridges crossed the canal along its route?
  • Mules and horses pulled the canal boats at 4 mph?
  • Costs to transport goods across the state on the canal vs by road were reduced by 80% to 90%?
  • Toll receipts paid back the $7.5 million construction cost within ten years?
  • The canal was enlarged due to increased traffic demands with construction occurring from 1836 to 1862?
  • Tolls were abolished in 1882 because of increasing competition from railroads? Sadly, the Thruway Authority now manages the state’s canals, with tolls reintroduced.

Bonus… did you know that just northeast of the Medina harbor there is the spectacular waterfall, where the Oak Orchard River actually passes under the canal then over the Falls? In fact, if you go a few miles further east, you can actually drive under the Erie Canal, through the Culvert Road underpass!

At the end of the “quiz, the results were tabulated. The good news was that most of us were smarter than a fourth grader…just barely.

If you know of a treasure that needs to be unburied, contact me at Or, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers knew…”, visit to find out how I can help.


18 thoughts on “Fun Facts About the Erie Canal

  1. Hi Jonae… As mentioned in my post, I attended a presentation by Doug Farley, Director of the Erie Canal Discovery Center who shares some fun facts about the Erie Canal in the form of a quiz. I shared some of the facts I learned here.

  2. Another overlooked fact is that the Canal looped around Holley and 1/3 to a half still exists. I found the canal bed and it goes clear down to 31, marked by historic signs. The north part ends at the south bank of the present canal.

    • Hi Phillip – Thank you so much for your note. You are right. Many do not realize that a portion of the canal was re-routed during an expansion between 1835 and 1862 to support increased traffic. A portion of the old (original) canal loop still exists today, with historic markers noting the site.

  3. This information helped me with my project on the Erie Canal. These are some very good facts yuh posted. Keep up the good work!

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