Fueled by its Erie Canal success, New York State builds the Oswego, Cayuga–Seneca, Chemung, Crooked Lake, and Chenango canals.
Success-choked Erie, Champlain, and Oswego canals are enlarged: 7 feet deep; locks 110 feet long, 18 feet wide; boat capacity 240 tons. Twinned chambers enable boats to lock through in both directions at once. Genesee Valley and Black River canals completed.
Peak Erie Canal tonnage, 1880; tolls end, 1882. By 1896 lengthened chambers let most Erie Canal locks pass two boats through in tandem. Chemung, Chenango, Crooked Lake, Oneida Lake, and Genesee Valley canals abandoned, late 1870s.
New York State Barge Canal System supersedes Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga–Seneca canals. Built for self-propelled vessels, it uses canalized rivers, lakes, and land-cut sections, minimum depth 12 feet. Electrically powered locks pass boats 300 feet long.
St. Lawrence Seaway opens, a young Queen Elizabeth marks the occasion with a visit on the royal yacht. The new seaway allows ships to go from the Great Lakes directly to the Atlantic Ocean. Commercial traffic declines on New York canals.
Congress establishes Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to help preserve and interpret New York State’s historic canal system and the communities along its banks.