US Migration Canals
Transportation canals in the United states helped connect isolated rural areas to urban population centers. The golden age of historic transportation canals was from 1820 until railroads began to replace canals in the 1850s. Settlers flooded into regions serviced by such canals and the waterways they connected because they could use the waterways to sell their agricultural products and obtain manufactured goods. The Erie Canal connected New York City to the Great Lakes. The Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River system. The short two mile Louisville and Portland Canal by-passed some waterfalls to make the entire length of the Ohio River from the Mississippi River to Pittsburgh available to boats or rafts. Pennsylvania combined canals and railroads. New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, and Indiana also built canals that were enticing to settlers.
Understanding the transportation systems available to ancestors can help genealogists better guess their place of origin. Connect the place where an ancestor settled to the nearby canals, waterways, trails, roads, and railroads to look for connections to places they may have lived previously.
List of Significant Canals
Some of the most significant transportation canals to affect American settlement were:
|Champlain Canal||1818/1823||Hudson River (Troy, New York)||Lake Champlain (Whitehall, New York)|
|Erie Canal||1819/1825||Hudson River (Albany, New York)||Lake Erie (Buffalo, New York )|
|Schuykill Canal||1825||Delaware River (Philadelphia, PA)||Union Canal (Reading, Pennsylvania)|
|Union Canal||1828||Schuykill Canal (Reading, Pennsylvania)||Susquehanna River (Middletown, PA)|
|Ohio and Erie Canal||1828/1832||Lake Erie (Cleveland, Ohio)||Ohio River (Portsmouth, Ohio)|
|Louisville and Portland Canal||1830||Ohio River (Louisville, Kentucky)||2 mile (3.2 km) waterfall by-pass|
|Beaver and Erie Canal||1831/1844||Ohio River (Beaver, Pennsylvania)||Lake Erie (Erie, Pennsylvania)|
|Pennsylvania Canal (Main Line)||1834||Delaware River (Philadelphia, PA)||Ohio River (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)|
|Delaware and Raritan Canal||1834||Raritan River (New Brunswick, NJ)||Delaware River (Bordentown, NJ)|
|Chesapeake and Ohio Canal||1836||Georgetown, District of Columbia||Cumberland, Maryland|
|Wabash and Erie Canal||1837/1853||Lake Erie (Toledo, Ohio)||Ohio River (Evansville, Indiana)|
|Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal||1840||Beaver and Erie Canal (New Castle, PA)||Ohio and Erie Canal (Akron, Ohio)|
|Miami and Erie Canal||1845||Ohio River (Cincinnati, Ohio)||Lake Erie (Toledo, Ohio)|
|Illinois and Michigan Canal||1848||Lake Michigan (Chicago, Illinois)||Illinois River (Peru, Illinois)|
- Wikipedia contributors, "Canal" in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canals (accessed 22 June 2009).