What were some difficulties when constructing the Erie Canal?

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The Erie Canal was a huge challenge to build.  The length of the canal was to be 363 miles long and 40 feet wide the entire way. In addition to simply the challenge of making a long wide channel, there were elevation changes to contend with as well.  In the year 1800 the technology of building locks existed, but the expense of them would be astronomical.  Thomas Jefferson himself rejected the plan.  

Problem 1 = the President doesn't approve

Problem 2 = it's really long

Problem 3 = fairly wide

Problem 4 = that's a lot of dirt that needs to be moved Solution = pile it up on the downhill side to make a towpath

Problem 5 = funding

Problem 6 = elevation changes

Problem 7 = internal combustion doesn't exist; all of the work is done by human power or animal power

Problem 8 = too often workers found themselves digging through solid rock instead of dirt

Problem 9 = sometimes the canal itself would leak or flood and destroy nearby fields and crops

Problem 10 = many communities were dead set against it; they thought it would introduce crime and thievery


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