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Interpreting the Evidence

Map of Mohawk Valley, Schenectady to the Hudson River, 1912

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Erie Canal

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    Capital District
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Map of Mohawk Valley, Schenectady to the Hudson River, 1912 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Map of Mohawk Valley from Schenectady to the Hudson River, Showing railroads, Barge Canal, old Erie Canal, Crescent and Vischer Ferry dams, and cities. Prepared by the State Department of Public Works, 1912.
Historical Context
The Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Seneca-Cayuga Canals make up the divisions of the Barge Canal.  The Champlain Canal runs from Waterford north to Fort Edward.  The Erie Canal runs from the Hudson River through the Mohawk River to points west that include Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo.  In order for the Barge Canal to operate successfully, it needs a constant and adequate supply of water.  Vischers Dam and Crescent Dam were built to control the flow of the water along the canal and are examples of fixed dams.  The dams keep the surface of the water at a fixed elevation above streams.   Dams can also make the rivers into artificial lakes. 
Essential Question
How does technology impact the geography and economy of a society?
Check for Understanding
Identify the three key characteristics of the canal system in New York and evaluate the impact of the canals on the geography and economy of local communities.
Historical Challenges
How were all the workers who constructed the canal paid for their hard work? Research the life of a canal construction worker. What were some health concerns that developed while the canal was being built?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: How do dams control the water level on the canals?