Profile America — Wednesday, October 26th. One of young America's most ambitious engineering projects opened on this date in 1825 — allowing goods to flow from Lake Erie through New York State to the Hudson River. It was the Erie Canal, 363 miles long, four feet deep and 40 feet wide, with tow paths for mules to pull the barges along.
The super highway of its day, the Erie Canal opened up the Western Frontier and made New York City into the nation's number one port. Today, the canal's importance has shifted to recreation. America's waterways — especially the Mississippi River — carry an increasing amount of freight, totaling close to two and a half billion tons each year. Petroleum products are by far the largest category of freight moved on the water. You can find these and more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at www.census.gov.
Sources: Chase's Calendar of Events 2011, p. 427, 419
Statistical Abstract of the United States 2011, t. 1131