Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Erie Canal

The Erie Canal

Martha E. Kendall
For ages 12 and up
National Geographic Children's Books, 1994   ISBN: 978-1426300226

Today the Erie Canal provides boaters and vacationers with a wonderful opportunity to explore a very pretty part of the United States. People from around the country and around the world come to the canal to boat, to fish, and to visit the attractive and historic towns along the canal's route.

In the early 1800's however, the canal had a far more serious and necessary purpose for the American people. Before the canal was built, people had a very hard time getting themselves and goods from the eastern seaboard of the United States to the areas in the middle of the country. Mountains stood in the way and such a journey was dangerous and it took a long time. Because of this, DeWitt Clinton - the man who became the governor of the State of New York in 1817 – was eager to build a canal from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. He believed that such a canal would provide immigrants with a route to the west; it would make it easier to get goods to and from the Midwest, and it would make the towns along the canal's route prosperous.

Once the canal was completed people were able to see that DeWitt Clinton was right on all counts. Unfortunately in the years leading up to the beginning of construction, Clinton had to push hard to get support for the project because so many people thought the idea was ludicrous. It would be the longest canal in the world and the lock systems would be complicated and costly.

DeWitt refused to be put off, and after eight long years of hard labor and innovative construction, the Erie Canal was finally opened.

In this interesting and well written book the author tells readers the complete story of the Erie Canal, from the day when the idea for the canal came into being, to the present day. Readers will see how hard it was to build the canal, how it changed the lives of thousands of people, and why it had such a big impact on the American people in the 1800's. Full of behind-the-scenes stories, and with numerous period illustrations, this is a title young readers will greatly enjoy.