A busy summer is always the case, whether it is 2017 or 1817. This year is the 200th year of the first shovel full of dirt dug for the Erie Canal. Rome was the place it all began followed by individual locations along the 363 miles being built throughout the early and mid-19th century.
The Erie Canal was built from 1817 to its official opening in 1825 with two enlargements. As we have said many times, the “Old Erie” was enlarged in the 1840s, was built circa 1858 going over Ganargua Creek with the Aldrich Change Bridge in 1856-58 and then another enlargement of the Erie Canal was done circa late 1850s. This old Erie seemed to be outgrown as soon as it was built, which resulted in the enlargements.
By the 1840s and 1850s, the railroads were becoming the work horses with speed and load capacity. The Erie Canal was losing ground, business and speed in delivery. The first years of the Erie Canal were nonstop with barges being loaded and unloaded. If your boat broke down, sprung a leak or caught fire, the other barges would push it to the side and continue. Time was money, and the delivery and pick-up of fresh produce and livestock made timely service imperative.
When you walk along the towpath in many areas, you will notice the highway, railroad tracks and Erie Canal run almost parallel with each other. The Barge Canal was built in early 20th century using railroad cars and tracks to carry the dirt. If there was not a track, a track was laid; if there was not a trestle, then a trestle was built, step by step as necessary to remove and cart away the dirt. This was a major production, taking about 15 years to build.
On July 22, 1873, the current Episcopal Church was consecrated by Bishop Cox. The church was made from Medina Sandstone. On July 23, 1866, ground was broken for the current Methodist Church known as the ME Church. On July 24, 1937, the first Mormon Pageant was held on Hill Cumorah. On July 26, 1861, the cornerstone of St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church was laid.