Who worked on the Erie Canal? Where did they live? What do we know about them?
Plans are underway for unearthing some of these questions. Tucked away in the woods near the Seneca River, hidden from immediate view are the remains of the original Erie Canal within the small town of Montezuma in the heart of Upstate New York. At a site, which is one of the last locks remaining from the Clinton Ditch era, we will uncover objects left behind from this bygone era in archaeological test plots. We will learn from a canal historian about the remains of Lock 62, and the how men worked there 24 hours a day to raise and lower boats traveling across the Seneca River.
This was one of the most difficult natural water crossings on the Erie Canal using what is known as slack water navigation. The river was shallow and the land surrounding it was relatively flat marshland. A dam was built in the river that backed up a certain depth of water. The state also had to employ a team of workers here called lighteners to unload part of the cargo, place it on another boat, pull it across the river and then reload the first boat.
The Montezuma Historical Society is sponsoring this dig to be held during the annual Community Days Event. We look forward to sharing our adventures on this blog.