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Interpreting the Evidence

Map of the New York State Barge Canal System, 1922

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    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:

    Environment
    Erie Canal
    Transportation

  • Primary Source Types:

    Map

  • Regions:

    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Map of the Canal System of the State of New York, 1905 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Map of the New York State Barge Canal System in New York State, 1922.
Historical Context
The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 promoted westward expansion and the development of western New York, and increased the amount of trade for New York City.  As time passed, expansion of the canal was necessary to transport more cargo and to compete with the developing railroads.  The expansion of the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Seneca-Cayuga Canals into the Barge Canal System began in 1905 and was completed in 1918.  The Barge Canal made use of the Mohawk, Seneca, and Oswego Rivers as part of the new route.  Barges with cargoes up to 3,000 tons traveled the 353 miles from Albany to Buffalo.  The New York State Barge Canal remained an important form of commercial transport for almost seventy-five years.
 
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
The Barge Canal remained an important form of commercial transport for almost seventy-five years. What happened to cause the canal to decline as a main form of commercial transportation?
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: Why was the expansion of the Barge Canal necessary to accommodate heavier cargo boats?
English Language Arts: Design an advertising campaign to attract new business as a result of the expansion of the Barge Canal.