The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, November 17, 2003

ON THE ERIE CANAL
If you grew up and went to gradeschool in New York State during the '70s and '80s, you learned about the Erie Canal. You learned about how that engineering marvel of the 19th Century practically made New York City into the commercial colossus it remains today. You even learned a folk song about the Canal:

I've got a mule and her name is Sal
15 miles on the Erie Canal
She's a good old worker and a good old pal
15 miles on the Erie Canal

They must have taught us a hundred sing-a-longs in elementary school, and for some reason, "Erie Canal" is the only one that's really stuck with me. Go figure.

Go figure, too, that a waterway that played such an important part in American history, and was well-mapped only a hundred years ago, could somehow become "lost". But that's what happened, sorta. As the Canal fell out of active commercial use, parts of it became buried and undocumented by the middle of the last century. So today, it's been left to the archaeologists to uncover the Erie Canal.

This piece brought back lots of memories, despite my never actually having seen the thing. It's nice to know what happened to the subject of that old tune.