The Erie Canal turns 200 in 2025

The Erie Canal, along with the Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca canals, is known throughout the world as the most historically significant and influential canal system in North America. Together, these canals are widely seen as a scenic and cultural treasure that evoke powerful memories of a proud past and provide great promise for a bright future.

Major events, ribbon cuttings, special programs, and tours are on tap from Albany to Buffalo for the Erie Canal bicentennial in 2025. Legacy projects that contribute to the next century of the canal's preservation, sustainability, and recreational use also will feature prominently.

What's on Tap

And more...

Check back throughout 2024 as new events and ways to become involved come online.


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About the Erie Canal

Since its grand opening in 1825, the Erie Canal has been widely recognized as an engineering marvel that put New York on the map as the Empire State. It transformed New York City into the nation's principal seaport and served as a major “Gateway to the West” for waves of immigrants coming to America. Groundbreaking inventions and social movements took place along the canals where a spirit of entrepreneurship and progressive thinking took hold.

Today, the New York State Canal System is a National Historic Landmark that offers an unparalleled place to recreate while discovering the incredible history and beauty of America's most famous human-made waterway.

National Historic Landmark

Thanks to the dedication of generations of canal workers and the support of people like you, the NYS Canal System remains one of America's greatest treasures.

A Brief Timeline of Construction of the Erie Canal

Construction of the Erie Canal began in Rome in 1817. Workers started first on the easiest, most level sections. In subsequent years, they tackled major engineering challenges at Cohoes, Little Falls, Rochester, and Lockport, where construction needed to overcome the most difficult elevation changes. Sections of the canal opened as they were completed, until the entire canal from Buffalo to Albany opened in 1825.

April 15, 1817 NYS Legislature passes the act to construct the Erie and Champlain Canals
July 4, 1817 Ceremonial first digging for the Erie Canal takes place at Rome; real work begins six days later on July 10
October 22, 1819 Erie Canal opens between Rome and Utica
July 4, 1820
Syracuse celebrates completion of the Erie Canal from Utica to the Seneca River
November 18, 1821 The locks at Little Falls are complete, opening navigation from Montezuma to Schenectady
July 1822 Erie Canal navigable from east bank of the Genesee River in Rochester to Schenectady
Sept 10, 1823 Champlain Canal opens end to end
October 1, 1823 Genesee Aqueduct complete; Erie Canal is in operation from Brockport to Albany
September 1824 Erie Canal reaches the foot of the Niagara Escarpment at Lockport
October 26, 1825 Erie Canal complete; Gov. DeWitt Clinton departs Buffalo leading a flotilla of boats across the canal to New York City
November 4, 1825 Grand celebrations take place in New York City as Clinton performs the “Wedding of the Waters,” pouring water from Lake Erie into the Atlantic Ocean
November 23, 1825 The Atlantic Ocean meets the Great Lakes. The canal boat Seneca Chief returns to Buffalo to complete the "Wedding of the Waters."
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    The original legislation passed by the NYS legislature to construct the Erie and Champlain Canals (1817) is housed in the NYS Archives in Albany.

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    Drawing of canal construction c. 1855 for Erie Canal enlargement

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    Map showing detail from The Noses in Montgomery County (NYS Archives)

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    Deep cut excavation in Lockport

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    Lockport Flight by Cadwallader Colden (NYS Archives)

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    Entrance of the canal into the Hudson River at Albany by historical artist James Eights (Albany Institute of History & Art)

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    Invitation to Wedding of the Water celebration in New York City, 1825 (Albany Institute of History & Art)