Straight roads aren’t uncommon of course, but not many have histories that go back as far as these two that cross the Erie Canal in Western New York State.
Joseph Ellicott was the resident general agent of the Holland Land Company, which owned the 3.3 million acre tract that today is Western New York State. It was his job to survey and to sell the land in this region to settlers. Before these “base lines” could be surveyed, the trees had first to be cleared so the surveyor could see and direct his partner holding an upright pole called a “surveyor’s rod” in the distance. A team of ax-men worked ahead of them all the way, and in many areas their work was kept cleared by pioneer residents who used their openings as roads.