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Interpreting the Evidence

Commemorative Plate, 1825

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Expansion and Reform (1801 - 1861)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Comprehension

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Erie Canal

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Erie Canal Commemorative Plate, 1825 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A souvenir plate commemorates the opening of the Erie Canal, 1825.
Historical Context
This plate was made to commemorate the 1825 opening of the Erie Canal.  The picture on the plate shows canal boats waiting to enter the Erie Canal lock at Albany, New York.

The celebration of the opening of the Erie Canal took the form of a voyage along the length of the canal and then down the Hudson River, ending in New York City. On October 26, 1825, eight years after construction began, the entire Erie Canal was officially opened. Other ceremonies took place before this as sections of the canal were finished.  There was a celebration in October 1823 when the section to Albany was completed.  Albany was the entrance to the Erie Canal and the place where the canal intersected with the Hudson River.

The official celebration began in Buffalo, where the packet boat The Seneca Chief bearing Governor Clinton and a company of distinguished citizens began its journey.  It was followed by a second boat called Noah’s Ark, which was carrying various New York State animals. The boats traveled 363 miles to Albany, and then the steamboat Chancellor Livingston took the Seneca Chief in tow for the trip down to New York City.  

The entire trip was announced along the way by cannon fire. On November 4, 1825, the boat arrived in New York City.  At official ceremonies held at Sandy Hook, Governor Clinton poured a keg of Lake Erie water into the Atlantic Ocean.  This was called the Marriage of the Waters.
Essential Question
How does access to better forms of transportation impact all members of a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the object and explain why the completion of the Erie Canal was celebrated by people all across New York.
Historical Challenges
Draw a map displaying the route of the Mohawk River in relationship to the Erie Canal.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: How many miles did the keg of water have to travel from Buffalo before mixing with the Atlantic Ocean?
Art: Design a commemorative plate to celebrate the opening of the Erie Canal. Pick a particular event or place to depict on your plate.