Investigation 3: Moving Goods on the Erie Canal


NYS Learning Standards: SS1.1 (NYS history), 1.4 (interpreting history)

 

Grade Level: 3-8


Essential Question: What kinds of things were shipped on the Erie Canal?

Engraving of City Mills

(3.1.A)
From Henry O'Reilly's Settlement in the West.Sketches of Rochester; with Incidental Notices of Western New-York. Rochester: William Alling, 1838. Courtesy of Schuyler C. Townson Library, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, NY.


Diagram of new canal slip

(3.1.B)
Courtesy of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Rochester Library


Map of Rochester

(3.1.C)
[rpm00022] Detail from Map of Rochester from a Correct Survey of This Village to Jonathan Child Esq.by Valentine Gill, 1832. Courtesy of the Rochester Public Library, Local History Division


(3.1.D)
From Gideon Miner Davison's The Traveller's Guide Through the Middle and Northern States and the Provinces of Canada. Saratoga Springs, NY: G.M. Davison, 1833. p. 246-247. Courtesy of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Rochester Library


Excerpt from Jacob Abbot's Marco Paul's Travels on the Erie Canal.

(3.1.E)
From Jacob Abbott's Marco Paul's Travels on the Erie Canal. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1852. p. 49. Courtesy of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Rochester Library


Medina Apples

(3.2.A)
No. 1943, Rochester News Co., Rochester, N.Y. Postmarked Jul. 2 & 3, 1906. Courtesy of Frank Sadowski Jr., The Erie Canal web site,www.eriecanal.org


DeLand canal loading

(3.2.B)
[tpm00346] Courtesy of the Perinton Municipal Historian Collection


Canal barges in NYC

(3.2.C)
[40.332.887] From the Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, NY


Lithograph of the Canal

(3.3.A)
From Amos Eaton's A Geological and Agricultural Survey of the District Adjoining the Erie Canal in the State of New York. Taken under the direction of the Hon. Stephen Van Rensselaer. Albany: Packard & Van Benthuysen, 1824. Courtesy of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Rochester Library


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(3.3.B)
Courtesy of the New York State Archives


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(3.3.C)
Courtesy of the New York State Archives


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(3.3.D)
From DeWitt Clinton's "Memorial, of the Citizens of New-York, In Favour of a Canal Navigation Between the Great Western Lakes and the Tide-waters of the Hudson, 1816."

Activity 3.1: Rochester: The Flour City

Document 3.1.A: Engraving of City Mills (later Beach Mills)


    1. Examine the engraving (3.1.A). How is it different from a photograph?
    1. Make a list of things you see in this engraving.
    1. Predict: Why is there a boat in this picture?

Document 3.1.B: Diagram of new canal slip


    1. Examine the diagram of the canal slip (3.1.B). Make a list of some of the map features you see.
    1. Is this new slip north or south of the Erie Canal aqueduct? How can you tell?
    1. Use the glossary to determine what a mill race and slip are. Define them below.
    1. How long is the proposed canal slip? Calculate the length! (Hint: One rod = 16.5 feet.) Use a calculator and compare your answer with a friend.

Document 3.1.C: Map of Rochester


    1. Examine the map of Rochester (3.1.C). Find the location of the canal slip and Beach's Mills on the city map. Describe where you found them.
    1. How many other mills can you find on the map? How close to the canal are the mills that you see?
    1. What streets do you recognize on this map?
    1. What does this map tell you about jobs in Rochester?
    1. What does the map tell you about resources (natural, human-made, people, financial, etc.) in Rochester?

Document 3.1.D: Text from The Traveller's Guide (1833,p. 247)
Document 3.1.E: Text from Marco Paul's Travels (1845, p. 49)


    1. Read the quote about Rochester from The Traveller's Guide as well as the passage from Marco Paul's Travels. Why was it important for mills in Rochester to have easy access to the Erie Canal? Use information from the documents and the quotes to explain your ideas.

Activity 3.2: Getting Goods on Board

Document 3.2.A: Photograph of Medina Apples
Document 3.2.B: Photograph of DeLand canal loading
Document 3.2.C: Photograph of canal barges in NYC


    1. Communities across New York State benefited from the trade on the Erie Canal. Cities were well known for their products. Rochester had its flour mills, Syracuse had its salt, and smaller communities specialized in other goods. Examine each of the pictures and in each one, identify:
      • What was being shipped
      • How it was being loaded or unloaded
      • What else is in the picture
      3.2.A

      3.2.B

      3.2.C
    2. How has loading and unloading goods changed over time on the canal? Use evidence from the documents to support your ideas.

      Activity 3.3: Taking Goods to New York City

      Document 3.3.A: Lithograph "Entrance of the Canal"

    3. Boats traveled from Buffalo to New York City by way of the Erie Canal and Hudson River. Look at Document 3.3.A. What do you notice about the two boats in the lithograph? Which one carries passengers? Freight? How can you tell? Compare and contrast the boats that traveled to New York City below by listing what is unique to each type of boat and what is the same.
    4. Packet Boats


      Both Packet and Freight Boats


      Freight Boats

    1. Why did so many canal boats, packet and freight, have New York City as a destination? Brainstorm a list of reasons with a partner. Think about your top three answers and be prepared to share with the group.

Document 3.3.B: Document of Weekly Statement (to NYC)
Document 3.3.C: Document of Weekly Statement (from NYC)


    1. Look at documents 3.3.B and 3.3.C. What do you notice about the merchandise traveling TO New York City? What kinds of things are listed?
    1. What do you notice about the merchandise traveling FROM New York City? What kinds of things are leaving New York City?
    1. How would you describe the differences?
    1. What do the merchandise lists tell you about the types of work and resources available in New York City and the rest of New York State?

Document 3.3.D: Text from DeWitt Clinton's vision of the Erie Canal


    1. Read the text in Document 3.3.D. How did DeWitt Clinton see the canal as a help to America?
    1. How did he see it as a help to New York City?
    1. Find one example in the text of what DeWitt Clinton predicted would happen to America if the Erie Canal were built, and record it below.
    1. Find three examples in the text of the effect that DeWitt Clinton predicted the Erie Canal would have on New York City, and record them below.

Assessment:

RAFT


Role: Time traveler

Audience: DeWitt Clinton, "Father" of the Erie Canal

Format: Letter

Topic: Prove the Erie Canal will help all of New York


As part of your history lessons, you have traveled back in time to the year before the canal begins construction. De Witt Clinton, Governor of New York, is about to give up on the expensive and controversial Erie Canal project. Your job (but without your teacher’s knowledge) is to leave him a note encouraging him to push on with the project. Prepare a brief letter to Gov. Clinton that explains:

  • How the canal helps communities large and small
  • How whole city industries need the canal to survive
  • The kinds of things that are moved on the canal
  • How it will transform New York City


Use evidence from the documents you have researched here and be brief and to the point, but bring passion to your letter – the future of the Erie Canal depends on it!