The Living on Earth Almanac
Air Date: Week of October 20, 2000
This week, facts about the Erie Canal. In 1825, mules tugged the first barge down this manmade waterway linking the Great Lakes with New York City.
CURWOOD: For early Americans, the commerce of the New World came to a screeching halt at the Appalachian Mountains, simply because there was no easy way around. But 175 years ago this week, a single mule tugged the first barge down the Erie Canal. The waterway connected New York City to the Great Lakes and carried pioneers west and raw materials east. When New York City Mayor DeWitt Clinton first proposed the canal, President Thomas Jefferson called it "a little short of madness" and wouldn't commit a cent of federal funds. After all, the Hudson River and Lake Erie were separated by 363 miles, 568 feet of elevation, and the Mohawk River. The four lead engineers had never even seen a canal before, and most of the designers and laborers were uneducated immigrants. But they did the seemingly impossible. They built an enormous aqueduct to carry the canal across a deep gorge, created a series of locks to counter the draining effect of the land's elevation, and even lined the canal with apple trees to feed the barge-pulling mules. When the dust settled, they had transformed Clinton's folly into an engineering marvel of ingenuity that remains an eighth wonder of the world. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Newsletter [Click here]
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth