Traveling the Erie Canal, 1836
It was the engineering marvel of its time - its construction compared to the building of the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. The idea for a canal connecting the Hudson River and the Great Lakes was first proposed in the early 1800s by a miller living in a village in upstate New York. President Thomas Jefferson declared the idea "little short of madness", but Dewitt Clinton, then Mayor of New York City, championed the concept. When Clinton became Governor of the state, he pushed through legislation funding the construction of the canal - Clinton's "Big Ditch" (also dubbed "Clinton's Folly") was born. The massive job was begun in 1817 and completed in 1825.
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"Traveling the Erie Canal, 1836", EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com