• the grand erie canal

Welcome to Our Erie Canal Website

  • Large Erie Canal Maps with Profiles Showing Elevations
  • Erie Canal Documentary Videos Covering History & Engineering
  • Stories about Erie Canal Mules, Barges, Bridges and Music

Today America spans the continent from sea to sea. In our earliest days though, we were pinned tightly to the Atlantic by the Appalachian mountain chain. We may have had title to the western lands, but without roads or canals, getting heavy tools or produce across those mountains just wasn’t possible.  The Erie Canal changed all of that, and its impact on America’s history since it was completed in 1825 makes it one of the most important infrastructure projects in our country’s history.  Click on the arrow below to watch this short video clip:


backhoeHow would life be different today if:

  • The City of Chicago didn’t exist?
  • The midwest was part Mexico and part Canada?
  • California became a country instead of a state?
  • The South won the Civil War?
  • America never entered WWI or WW2?
  • Man hadn’t yet made it to the moon?
  • And finally, the canal helped fuel a flood of immigration from Europe in its day. What if your ancestors never came here, and you were never born?
About Low Bridge Productions

You might ask why we’re telling these stories, and not someone else.  During the 1980’s I owned a small excavating company in Western New York State.  We made our living with a backhoe like the one above installing residential septic systems not far from the canal.

shooterOur work then included digging level trenches that were fifty feet long.  Fifty feet isn’t very long, but keeping each trench level on especially hilly ground wasn’t easy, and we took pride in being pretty good at it!  Imagine my reaction when I learned that the builders of the original Erie Canal dug a trench through virgin forests all the way from Rochester to Lockport that was level for 62 miles!

In 1809 Thomas Jefferson called the plan to build the canal, “little short of madness”, and even today I agree with him!  It was madness!  I say that not as a historian or an engineer, but as a digger who’s fought with shallow bedrock, soft mud, frozen ground and giant tree roots – all hard enough with modern hydraulic equipment today – let alone the animal-power and primitive tools they had to work with back then.

Eventually digital video cameras like the one above became affordable, and in 2005 we began telling stories about the Erie Canal from a digger’s point of view.  I hope you’ll enjoy them here on our website, and that you’ll try to imagine the ways in which your… all of our lives might be different today if this project had never been completed.   Stephen Drew — Rochester, NY