When Max was in middle school I sometimes would take his textbooks to my office and photocopy the pages blocking out distracting charts, images, sidebars, etc. One night I was too tired to trek across the yard to open my office, so I volunteered to read out loud a chapter on US westward expansion in the early 19th century. The mere paragraph this text devoted to the conception, construction and historical importance of the Erie Canal, left me slack-jawed.
Gabe and I are both native New Yorkers and a substantial segment of our American history education was devoted to this pivotal accomplishment. If you know us, you can just picture what happened next. We spent the winter researching the entire 373-mile route from the Waterford Flight to the Tonawanda terminus. By summer we had purchased a second-hand 25′ power boat and trailer, recruited a traveling companion for our son, loaded up our truck with photo gear and supplies, hooked our dinghy to the other car, and headed north up the Hudson Valley.
I won’t go into detail about the boat taking on water within moments of being launched, but picture a boat still tied to the trailer winch floating downstream in the pitch dark while the water-logged engine refused to start. Thankfully, that was the low-point of the entire summer. The rest of the season was spent advancing two vehicles and two boats lock-by-lock, sharing sleeping quarters among four people, eating alfresco, and bathing in the canal. Ah, what an experience!
Currently, we have 30 titles in Erie Canal Edition I. Future publishing plans include featuring some of the often-overlooked communities that grew up along the canal’s route; like Holy Trinity, a Russian Orthodox Monastery; Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the Women’s Suffrage Movement; and the middle Mohawk Valley with its prospering Amish dairy farms. The region has served as an able caretaker of the history that emerged as society pushed westward, made more comfortable and affordable by the Erie Canal. Read about this astonishing accomplishment at eriecanalgallery.com.