On July 4, 1817 construction of the 363 mile long Erie Canal and its 83 locks began at the city of Rome, New York.
The 200th anniversary of that historic construction start arrives on July 4, 2017.
New York State Gov. DeWitt Clinton’s project was constructed without the help, financial or otherwise, of the national government in Washington, DC. The $7,100,000 construction cost was paid off in 7 years, proof of it’ssuccess. The maximum anticipated capacity of the canal was 1.5 million tons. Traffic on the canal was at that level almost immediately. In 1834 expansion plans were being made.
The Erie Canal transformed the United States. The wedding of the fresh waters of the Great Lakes with the salt waters of the world’s oceans saw hundreds of thousands of people, timber, agricultural products, manufactured products, flour, chemicals, ores, etc move not only across United States but also to and from the world at-large.
Sadly, this early 19th century engineering marvel goes unrecognized. There is no move underway to have the Erie Canal declared a UNESCO “World Heritage Site” in recognition of its role in making the world smaller and more interconnected. It does not appear among the U.S. sites being recommended by the United States to UNESCO. It is time for Washington to step up to the plate by asking for consideration as a World Heritage Site.
The clock is ticking.