Erie Canal
A canal weighlock is built in Syracuse. ** The Erie Canal boat Eureka utilizes a paddle wheel along its keel. ** The Nine Mile Creek portion of the enlarged canal is put into operation. ** Plans for a second Erie Canal culvert at Holley, New York, are drawn up, but never built.

The Santee and Cooper Canal ceases operations. ** The Baltimore and Ohio Canal reaches Cumberland, Maryland. Further construction will halt, due to increased competition from the railroads. ** The U. S. and Great Britain sign the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, agreeing to promote a ship canal across the Isthmus of Panama. ** The Georges River Canal ceases operations. ** The enlargement of the Welland Canal is completed. ** Buffalo, New York, builds the Blackwell Canal. It will become known as the City Ship Canal.


Aug 3
Water is let into the Portage Canal for the second time.

Sep 29
The Wisconsin River floods, breaking into the Portage Canal.

The West Troy Weighlock of the Erie Canal is completed. ** The 379-mile Wabash and Erie Canal, connecting Evansville, Indiana, with Defiance, Ohio, becomes the longest main line canal in the U. S.


U. S. canal engineer Nathan S. Roberts dies in Lenox, New York. ** E. H. Gill leaves canal work to become superintendent of the Virginia Central Railroad. ** The St. Mary's Falls Ship Canal Company receives a grant of 750,000 acres of U. S. Government land.


Erie Canal

The enlarged waterway carries thirteen times the freight as all of the state's railroads.


Apr 5
Michigan signs a contract with the Fairbanks Scale Company to build a canal at the Soo.

Jun 4
Ground is broken for a U. S. canal at the Soo.

Jul 6
The Wisconsin state legislature incorporates the Fox and Wisconsin River Improvement Company.

Erie Canal
George M. Pullman, later a train car manufacturer, contracts to move some structures in Albion, New York, out of the way for a widening of the Erie Canal. ** Plans are made for a lumber steamer, to travel the canal, as well as the Grand River and Chippewa Creek, connecting with the Welland Canal and eliminating transhipment of goods at Buffalo. The boat is never built. ** English cooper William H. Bennett travels on the canal with his wife and two children.

The Middlesex Canal ceases operations. ** The U. S. Government grants Michigan the right to build a canal through "The Soo" (St. Mary's River - Sault Ste. Marie), between lakes Superior and Huron. ** The Cumberland-Oxford Canal Company begins defaulting on its mortgage payments. ** New York State's Court for the Trial of Impeachments is convened for the first time in the trial of Canal Commissioner John C. Mather; acquits him. ** The Seneca River Towing Path of the Barge Canal is extended from Baldwinsville to Jack's Reef.


Apr 15
New York State creates a Contracting Board to appoint all canal engineers. It consists of the Canal Commission, the State Engineer, and the Auditor of the Canal Department.

The Erie Canal is enlarged. ** A plan is devised to supply water for the Genesee Valley Canal summit level.


Apr 9

New York's Binghamton, Owego and Pennsylvania Slackwater Navigation canal company is is organized, capitalized at $100,000.

Jun 18
St Mary's Falls ship canal opens at the Soo (Sault Ste Marie), in northern Michigan, connecting lakes Michigan and Superior. The schooner Illinois becomes the first ship through the Soo.

Erie Canal
Experiments are made with an "expanding" paddlewheel steam-driven canal boat. It reaches a speed of 10 mph.

Annual repair costs on the Chenango Canal have reached $486 per mile.


The Maine legislature forbids further funds for the Georges River Canal. ** The Genesee Valley Canal is completed to Olean.

Erie Canal
The canal is enlarged again.** A canal bank break at Holley, New York, kills one person. ** An aqueduct is built at Palmyra during the renovation. ** The Montezuma Aqueduct, carrying the Enlarged Erie over the Seneca River, is completed at a cost of $150,000. ** The canal transports 4,116,082 tons of products this year. ** Canal enthusiast Elkanah Watson's Memoirs are published.


Apr 7
New York's Allegany River Slackwater Navigation Company is organized to improve the river below Olean.

New York
51,700 gross tons of coal from Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad cars is transferred to Chenango canal boats this year and 25,895 tons of Clinton, Oneida County, iron ore are shipped out to the railroad from the canal boats. ** William Beard and Jeremiah Robinson begin filling in tidal flats and building a breakwater in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood, the start of construction on the Erie Basin. ** A proposal is made to use steam locomotives on the Erie Canal towpaths. ** The state Contracting Board permits ordinary canal repairs to be let out for multi-year terms, rather than on an as needed basis. ** Legislation for The Binghamton, Owego and Pennsylvania Slackwater Navigation canal company is amended.

Rochester, New York
Boatbuilder Zina H. Benjamin moves his operation from the Ohio Basin to the area around Lock One of the Genesee Valley Canal. ** John Thompson and Co. manufacture canal boats at the Genesee Feeder.


Dec 8
Erie Canal mule and horse driver, and composer (I'm Fix O'Grady) Tom Kilroy is born in West Troy, New York.

Erie Canal
The Cathart Propellor, which turns with the rudder, is first used on the canal. ** The steamboat Charles Mack travels from Buffalo to Albany on the canal, using wood as fuel. ** The local engineer at the Tonawanda River Lock reports that the walls of the structure, enlarged in 1848, are still too low.
** The enlarged section of the canal west of Jordan opens in the spring.

This year New York canal boats deliver 267,406,411 feet of boards, 11,949,700 feet of timber and 67,505 tons of barrel staves, mostly from the northern part of the state, to Albany. ** Canada's Chambly Canal, closed for 15 years, reopens. ** Charles Ellet is rehired by the James River and Kanawha Canal to plan reservoirs for the navigation of the Kanawha River. ** The Cumberland-Oxford Canal Company goes bankrupt and is sold to Portland businessman-politician Isaac Dyer. ** U. S. canal engineer George Washington Goethals is born in Brooklyn, New York. ** The New York State legislature proposes diverting Lime Lake into Ischia Creek, at the cost of $160,000, to provide water for the Genesee Valley Canal. ** An iron suspension Aldrich Change Bridge is erected across the Erie Canal, linking the villages of Macedon and Palmyra.


May 1
New York State begins directly letting contracts on canal work within the state, rather than having the function performed by the Contracting Board supervisor.

Ferdinand de Lesseps begins construction of the Suez Canal. ** Several sets of horses fall into the Erie Canal at Schenectady on the same day, a common occurrence on canals.

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