Begun in 1817 and opened in its entirety in 1825, the Erie Canal is considered the engineering marvel of the 19th century. Once derided as “Clinton’s Folly” for the Governor who lent his vision and political influence to the project, the iconic waterway established settlement patterns, made New York the financial capital of the world and gave rise to a series of social and economic changes throughout America.
Cayuga County has 12 miles of canal, from the Richmond Aqueduct in Montezuma to Lock 51 on the Onondaga/Cayuga County line.
Canal highlights include:
The Erie Canal Recreational Trail traverses Cayuga County from the Village of Jordan to the Seneca River and includes carved stone locks, the Centerport Aqueduct, Lock 52 (West of Port Byron) and Richmond Aqueduct (west of the Seneca River).
The Montezuma Canal Heritage Park is a 140-acre park along the Seneca River/Barge Canal designated on the National Register of Historic Places. It includes the Richmond Aqueduct, the second largest aqueduct on the Erie Canal.
The Erie Canal Heritage Park at Port Byron, located at the site of former Lock 52 offers visitors a glimpse into authentic life on the Erie Canal in the mid-19th to early twentieth centuries. A visitors center, the Erie House 1895 tavern, a blacksmith shop and mule barn in addition to the walls of the former Lock 52 are all located at the Park to explore and learn the fascinating history of the Erie Canal. Erie Canal Lock 52 was one of the few locks along the Erie Canal that allowed boats to travel in both directions at the same time.
The Old Brutus Historical Society in Weedsport houses a full-scale mock-up of an early Erie Canal boat cabin interior.