|Date(s):||August 5, 1810|
|Location(s):||NIAGRA, New York|
|Tag(s):||Erie Canal, Agriculture, Transportation/Migration, Economy|
|Course:||“Early American Republic,” Hobart and William Smith Colleges|
|Rating:||2 (1 votes)|
In 1810 a group of government officials were sent out to explore and navigate a route for an artificial canal between Lake Erie and the Hudson River. Among the group commissioned to take this journey was DeWitt Clinton, who was the mayor of New York City for many years prior to this exploration. Along this journey Clinton kept a personal diary in which he documented all aspects of the land that surrounded him, whether it was noting how wide the rivers ran, to how many known birds are in the area he left nothing out. On August 5, 1810, DeWitt Clinton and his crew encountered the city of Buffalo, New York which at the time was better known as Buffalo Village.
Within the boundaries of Buffalo Village Clinton noted that there were thirty to forty houses that complimented several markets and taverns, a post office, and the Niagara County Court House. In other words this village had a decent population. Clinton said it best as he explained in his diary that Buffalo “is a place of great resort. All persons that travel to the Western states and Ohio, from the Eastern states and all that visit the falls of Niagara come this way.” Right away Clinton was able to conclude that this could be a very prosperous village. He observed that the surrounding stream was very deep and navigable for five miles, allowing for easy exploring. Another strong attraction of this village was that upstream was the Seneca Indian saw mill, which was impregnated with oil. Clinton also noted the variety of the fish that occupied this stream such as white, herrings, sheep-head, sturgeon and a variety of bass. Enough fish to provide an ample food supply for a dense population. All of these factors made the Village of Buffalo a good candidate for the canal to run through.
An important aspect of creating artificial water way was making sure that there was a current strong enough to pull boats and other forms of transportations. Clinton questioned Buffalo locals to gain this knowledge. According to Mr. Geddes, a native of the village, the current could range anywhere from six to seven miles an hour. This proved to be very important because the vessels that would transport goods and people along the canal weighed several tons. DeWitt Clinton’s vivid recollection of his exploration during 1810 proved to play a vital role in the construction of the Erie Canal. His personal diary indicated how well Buffalo’s surrounding economy would do after the creation of the canal as he incorporated how accessible natural resources were to those who passed through the area.
After Clinton’s explorations across New York, he and the commissioners were able to reach an agreement that the city of Buffalo would be included as a part of the Erie Canal. Sitting on Lake Erie, Buffalo provided a commercial bond between the east and the west, allowing travelers to enter from the Great Lakes. Upon the canals completion in 1825, Buffalo became a place that offered great prosperity as it quickly became enriched with economic and cultural prosperity that it had not seen before. With the rapid increase of commerce in the area due to the canal, Buffalo was essentially incorporated as a city in 1832.