When the Erie Canal opened, it quickly became a "must do" travel experience. People marveled at the canal's locks and low bridges, and encountered colorful characters, lively adventures, and hometown hospitality all along the way. You can too.
The Erie Canal once officially began in Albany, turned west at Cohoes and snaked alongside the Mohawk River. Today, the channelized Mohawk River is the Erie “Barge” Canal. The region’s location along the Hudson and Mohawk rivers and the canal turned it into America’s industrial powerhouse in the 1800s. You’ll find the region’s legacy of culture, arts, academics, and architecture matched by the extraordinary scenic landscapes of the Mohawk River Valley.
The “keepers of the original Erie Canal” are alive and well in Central New York, despite routing changes that redirected canal traffic from their front doors in 1918. Communities from Port Byron to Syracuse to Rome are among those that showcase the Erie Canal of the 1800s, Likewise, “newer” canal communities along the current canal route from Baldwinsville through Sylvan Beach offer year-round recreation along the canal and Oneida Lake.
The Western Erie Region features the longest section of the canal that still follows its original path and retains its historic relationship to the communities and landscapes along its banks. As you travel by land or water, you will find village Main Streets, lift bridges, farm fields, and 20th century locks alongside historic lock ruins, canal engineering marvels, and cobblestone and local sandstone buildings.
The Cayuga-Seneca Canal is the gateway to the Finger Lakes, connecting the Erie Canal at Montezuma to 92 miles of canalized rivers and lakes, including the Seneca River and Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. The region include Seneca Falls, celebrated as the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, and the Finger Lakes Region, renowned for its natural beauty, elegant architecture, wine country, and world-class cultural and recreational attractions.
The Champlain Canal begins at its junction with the Erie Canal in Waterford and runs north to Whitehall, where it connects with Lake Champlain, offering a path for waterborne commerce from the Adirondacks, Vermont, and eastern Canada. History enthusiasts treasure the region for its critical role in European exploration, conquest, and imperial conflict—including the French & Indian Wars, American Revolution, and War of 1812.
The Oswego Canal connects the Erie Canal at Three Rivers to Oswego Harbor at Lake Ontario. Though the Oswego is the canal system’s shortest segment, it has long provided a critical connection to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Oswego River’s bays and back channels are well suited for boating, fishing, birdwatching, canoeing, and kayaking. Visitors from around the world are drawn to Oswego’s active port, renowned for its festivals and exceptional sport fishing.