It may not be memorialized in song, but the New York State Barge Canal, the 20th century offshoot of the famed Erie Canal, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the National Park Service announced Wednesday.
The Barge Canal, built between 1905 and 1918, grew out of the Erie Canal and its connecting waterways, which were completed in 1825 and considered critical to the development of the nascent United States.
“It is a descendant of the nation’s first highway,” said Jean Mackay, spokeswoman for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.
The Barge Canal includes the four branches of the state’s canal system: the Erie (which includes portions of the original canal, since enlarged and deepened), Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca canals, spanning 450 miles.
“The recognition from the highest levels of our nation reminds us once again of the essential role New York state and its waterways have played in our country’s development and prominence,” Mike Caldwell, Northeast regional director for the National Park Service, said in a statement. He added the Barge Canal was being recognized as a “nationally significant, historic transportation icon.”
“It is an incredible honor to have the New York State Barge Canal listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” said Brian U. Stratton, director of the state Canal Corp. “This fitting and well-deserved recognition further exemplifies the national significance of America’s most iconic, influential and enduring waterway: the Erie Canal and New York State Canal System.”
The New York State Canal System links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, Niagara River, Lake Erie and 230 communities along the way. The system is owned and operated by the Canal Corp., a subsidiary of the state Thruway Authority. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, part of the National Park Service, works with the Canal Corp. on tourism and community outreach.
“This recognition greatly enhances our ability to achieve our goals of promoting the corridor as a world-class destination and fostering vibrant communities connected by our waterways.” Bob Radliff, director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, said in a statement.
There is a well-known song dedicated to the Erie Canal, “Low Bridge (Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal),” featuring a mule named Sal. Because much of the Erie Canal no longer exists, it is not on the National Register, Mackay said. Now, its remaining parts are.
“We need a new song,” she said.