South Orangetown Central School District

Over the Spring Recess, Cottage Lane Elementary School Technology Teacher Jacob Tanenbaum plans to bike the route of the old Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany and blog along the way for students. “The Erie Canal is an important part of New York history and has connections to several areas of our curriculum,” he explained. He plans to publish a blog entry and video every day of his trip at

Some key facts from Mr. Tanenbaum:

  • The Erie Canal was the first practical way to get goods from the mid-west to the East Coast. It opened settlement to a large area of the country and positioned New York as the economic capital of the country.
  • Construction of the Canal happened 200 years ago, well before railroads were built. Engineers cleared 360 miles of old growth forest and built 83 locks using nothing but human and animal power.
  • Construction of the Canal was possible in New York because it is the location of the only break in the chain of mountains that runs from Georgia to Maine. That break was carved by melting ice sheets after the last ice age.
  • New York’s Governor Clinton took the first trip from Buffalo to New York City, which took 10 days. Mr. Tanenbaum will travel from Buffalo to Albany in 6 or 7 days, at a roughly comparable pace. Although his bike is much faster than the old canal boats, they ran day and night and Mr. Tanenbaum needs to sleep!

The current canal, called the Barge Canal, is a modern construction that follows a different route than the old Erie. Most of the old canal was filled after the Barge Canal was built, but Mr. Tannebaum will be on roads sticking closer to the route of the old canal.

Mr. Tanenbaum’s trip begins Buffalo on Saturday, April 20. Safe travels!


Photo from