May 8
Holland Land Company agent Paoli Busti writes from Philadelphia to Joseph Ellicott in Batavia, New York, recounting a conversation with a St. Lawrence merchant named Parish who believes that western New York goods should be shipped via the St. Lawrence. Busti advocates pushing for a cross-state canal route.

De Witt Clinton visits the future Rochesterville area while scouting a canal route.

Jul 18
De Witt Clinton's party, scouting a route for a canal across New York State, arrives at the outlet of Onondaga Lake.

Jul 29
Clinton's party leaves the Genesee and heads west on Ridge Road.

After the New York State Senate passes a canal resolution, seven commissioners, among them De Witt Clinton and Stephen Van Rensselaer, are appointed to do a feasibility study of a trans-state canal. ** Construction begins on Benjamin Henry Latrobe's Washington City Canal. ** A contract is let for the construction of thirteen locks on the James River and Kanawha Canal, at Richmond, Virginia. ** U. S. canal engineer Charles Ellet, Jr. is born in Penn's Manor, Pennsylvania. ** England's Kennet and Avon Canal is built. ** Scottish land proprietor George Scriba hires David Stanhope Bates to survey and sell a large tract of land in Oneida County, New York. Bates moves his family to Constantia on, Oneida Lake.


Mar 7
Canal engineer, geologist and meteorologist Increase Allen Lapham is born in Palmyra to Erie Canal contractor Seneca Lapham and Rachael Allen Lapham.

Apr 8
The New York State legislature creates a canal commission. William Weston reviews plans by mail for the Erie Canal.

The Pennsylvania legislature combines the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Canal and the Delaware and Schuylkill Canal companies into the Union Canal Company. ** Robert Fulton is appointed to an Erie Canal commission.


Mar 30
Holland Land Company agent Joseph Ellicott writes from Batavia to his boss Paolo Busti in Philadelphia, reporting on his meeting in Albany with the canal commissioners, in which they attempted to find out just how much land the Holland group would be willing to donate for such a waterway. Ellicott refers the question to Busti.

Two London canal workers are arrested when the one losing a bet was being hanged by the winner, as part of the bet.

Canal engineer James Geddes surveys a route for a possible Chemung Canal, reports to the New York State canal commissioners. ** The Dismal Swamp Canal is fully operational.


Apr 6
The Seneca Lock Navigation Company is incorporated and secures the rights from The Western Inland Lock Navigation Company to improve navigation on the Seneca River.

William Weston turns down an offer to become chief engineer on the Erie Canal. Benjamin Wright accepts the post.


Second lieutenant and future canal engineer David Bates Douglass service in the Niagara Campaign earns him a promotion to first lieutenant and a brevet captaincy.

The New York State Canal Commission is denied funds by the state legislature. ** A canal is constructed through Virginia and North Carolina's Dismal Swamp. ** The British destroy Washington, D. C. Latrobe's original map of the Susquehanna Canal is lost. ** President James Madison asks the U. S. Congress to build a ship canal from the Chicago River to Des Plaines and the Illinois River.


Apr 20
The Cayuga and Seneca Canal Company is chartered.

Dec 12
New York City mayor De Witt Clinton is appointed to prepare a memorial to the state legislature, proposing a canal across the state. He circulates a petition to upstate counties.

Dec 23
U. S. inventor Robert Fulton dies.

The Washington City Canal is completed, reaching the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal at Georgetown, District of Columbia. ** New York City mayor De Witt Clinton presents the state legislature with a "memorial" pressing for a trans-state canal, predicts it will make his city a world commercial leader. ** The approximate date a cabin is built on Ontario's Rideau River at the site of Merrickville for the use of Colonel John By while he supervises the building of the Rideau Canal.


Mar 8
The New York State Canal Commission submits its final report to the legislature.

Apr 17
Stephen Van Rensselaer, De Witt Clinton, Samuel Young, Joseph Ellicott and Myron Holley are appointed as commissioners for an Erie Canal.

Oct 4
Irish-born canal engineer Christopher Colles dies in New York at the age of 77. He will be buried at St. Paul's Chapel.

Nathan Roberts assists Benjamin Wright on the Erie Canal between Rome and Montezuma. ** Canvass White is hired to assist on the final survey. ** The Schuylkill Navigation begins building north from Philadelphia. ** A wooden lock is built on the Ottawa River at Vaudreuil. ** The U. S. Government declines to participate in an Erie canal project.


Mar 3
President Madison vetoes a permanent fund for roads and canals.

Apr 15
The New York State legislature authorizes the construction of the Erie Canal, after Federal backing is denied.

Jul 4
The first ground for the Erie Canal is broken, at Rome, New York, near the Rome Canal.
Governor De Witt Clinton and contractor John Richardson break ground. ** Ground is broken for the portion of New York's Champlain Canal south of Whitehall.

Fifteen miles of the Erie Canal are completed.

The Susquehanna Canal goes bankrupt and is sold to new owners. ** Laommi Baldwin surveys the route of the James River and Kanawha Canal. ** De Witt Clinton is elected governor of New York State. ** Engineer Canvass White is sent to Great Britain by New York State to study canals and purchase surveying equipment. ** Nathan Roberts is made assistant engineer on the Erie. ** Chief Erie Canal engineer Judge Benjamin Wright appoints David Stanhope Bates assistant engineer on the middle division of the Erie Canal ** John Jervis is promoted from axeman on the Erie Canal to rod-man. ** Canal commissioners authorize a further 25% increase in capitalization for the Cayuga and Seneca Canal Company. ** Construction begins on the Monongahela Navigation and the Champlain Canal. ** Latrobe redraws his Susquehanna Canal map. ** Construction begins on Canada's Lachine Canal. ** Colonel Nathaniel Rochester is also made secretary of the convention meeting in Canandaigua to consider De Witt Clinton's canal proposal. ** Engineer Canvass White travels to Europe to study canal construction.


Honoré Balzac's future brother-in-law, Eugène-August-Louis (Allain dit Surville), a civil engineer, is appointed to the Ourcq Canal.



The Erie Canal is under contract for the entire Rome Summit section to just east of Syracuse.


Jun 10
Construction is begun on the Champlain Canal, linking the Erie Canal near Cohoes to Lake Champlain.

Jun 14
The first loaded boat passes through the newly completed locks of the Seneca and Cayuga Canal at Seneca Falls, New York. The toll is 50 cents.

Jul 10
Contractor Josiah Olcott signs a contract to build Erie Canal Section 40, east of the Nine Mile Aqueduct, with the exception of the embankment in the immediate vicinity of the aqueduct, which William Melville undertakes. Henry Bogardus and Andrew and William Thompson contract for Section 41, west of the crossing. Benjamin Gumaer contracts for Section 50 and part of 51, to the west of Skaneateles Outlet.

Nathan Roberts is made resident engineer on the Erie Canal between Rome and Syracuse. ** Construction is begun on an aqueduct to carry the canal across Rochester's Irondequoit Valley. ** Canvass White returns to the U. S. ** The legislature of Lower Canada grants authority for a canal to bypass the Chambly Rapids on the Richlieu River. Construction begins. ** Construction begins on the Lehigh Canal. ** Erie Canal contracts are signed for raising the Onondaga County summit level between Nine Mile Creek and Jordan, avoiding swamp areas. ** Self-trainied surveyors Benjamin Wright and James Geddes separately run levels between Rome and Syracuse, come out within two inches of each other over the 35-mile distance.


Oct 22
The Erie Canal opens between Rome and Utica, New York, when the canal boat The Chief Engineer arrives in Rome, after a four hour trip.

Close to 1,000 Erie Canal workers die of malaria in the Montezuma Swamp. ** Nathan Roberts runs the canal from the Seneca River to Rochester. ** David Stanhope Bates is promoted to Division Engineer on the Irondequoit section. ** John Jervis is made Resident Engineer on the middle section. ** Irish immigrant Valentine Gill, father of engineer E. H. Gill, becomes a surveyor on the canal. ** The Erie Canal is now open between Utica and the Seneca River.

© 2005 David Minor / Eagles Byte