It's all about rocks!

Construction of the canal across New York was made possible thanks to the most significant gap in the Appalachian Mountain range. This low lying gap provided a natural avenue between the eastern seaboard and the Great Lakes through which a canal could be dug.

Bedrock Formation

A shallow sea covered upstate New York during the period from 450 to 390 million years ago. Over time layers of shells and silt were deposited on the sea floor and were later compressed by overlying new sediments.

In this process, sand was solidified into sandstone, thick layers of mud became soft shales, and dissolved shells and calcium carbonate formed thin layers of resistant dolomite and limestone. In shallow bays, the seawater evaporated, leaving concentration of dissolved minerals, such as salt and gypsum.

Drumlins Small oval hills made of clay and gravel which indicate the direction of the glaciers advance and retreat Prevalent between Rochester and Syracuse
Kettle Lakes Depressions formed when blocks of ice melted after the glacial retreat Round and Green Lakes in Green Lakes State Park in Onondaga County, and Mendon Ponds Park and National Natural Landmark in the towns of Pittsford and Mendon, Monroe County
Eskers Sinuous linear ridge created by sediment-laden streambeds flowing under glacial ice Canal builder took advantage of the Cartersville Esker to build the 70-foot-high Great Embankment across the Irondequoit Valley
Finger Lakes
Waterfalls and Gorges

Deep, north-south facing troughs Formed when water levels dropped suddenly in glacial lakes and deeper valleys Cayuga and Seneca Lakes
Watkins Glen, Enfield Falls, Itchica Falls, and Taughannock Falls in the Cayuga-Seneca Region and Cohoes Falls in the eastern Mohawk Valley
Potholes Rock layers eroded by meltwater floods Moss island in Little Falls, near Lock E17 and Canajoharie Creek scoured out a hole 20 feet wide and eight feet deep