WATERFORD, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Many of us drive by it every day and take it for granted, but now the Erie Canal is going to be hard to ignore.
Cars cross over it, boats sail up and down it, people walk and bike along it, and now, we can call it a national historic landmark.
“This gives us another tool to hopefully attract people by saying that the system is now worthy of national historic status,” said Executive Director of Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Bob Radliff.
The digging began in the 1800s. Now 450 miles later, the system has become one of the most influential and successful manmade waterways in the nation, shaping communities along the way.
“It was so successful in the 1820s and 1800s that it was continuously enlarged and expanded due to its success, revenue was generated for New York, helping to make it the Empire State,” Radliff explained.
Though less than three percent of the thousands of places currently listed on the national registor receives the historic landmark designation, it only took a little over two years to prove the canal system had a place there. Radliff says it’s because it still remains relevant.
“The canal system is current, it’s vibrant, it exists, that’s what makes this as every unique as a historic district and as a national historic landmark,” Radliff said. “Not just because of its history, but also because you can experience it today.”
Now as a national landmark, the canal system can continue to contribute at a more prestigious level.
“Raising the stature, attracting visitors, building local pride and a sense of ownership, but it also potentially opens doors for technical assistance and grant funding,” Radliff added.
The official celebration and announcement for the designation is set for Jan. 18.