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29 October 2016

"Wedding of the Waters" by Peter L Bernstein

Wedding of the Waters by Peter L. Bernstein reveals the day to day economic, political, and historical account of the Erie Canal from the Hudson River at Albany to Lake Erie at Buffalo, New York. As an economic consultant, author and publisher of "Economics and Portfolio Strategy," Peter Bernstein writes from a global economic view. According to the author, George Washington was aware of the need to extend the country beyond the Appalachian Mountains. On page 22, Mr. Bernstein wrote that without a connection "the pioneers moving west would have little allegiance to the lands they left behind."
Dividing the book into five parts, the author covers:
  • The Visionaries — This section includes the history of canals, locks, aqueducts and the men behind the plans.
  • The Action Begins — This section details the economic advantages such as on page 116, "one man, one boy, and one horse..." Would move one ton one hundred miles for one dollar. "The cost by road ...would be ten dollars a ton." Also included is a descriptive steamboat ride up the Hudson river in 1810. My ancestors migrated to Oneida County, New York about this time. Did they take the river route north?
  • The Creation — This section describes the physical building of the canal. Building the Erie Canal presented many unknown challenges such as terrain, size, and methods of construction. As stated on page 204, "There was no precedent for such an undertaking." At this time, there was no stagecoach line west of Rome.
  • The Stupendous Path — This section details decisions for the west end. The construction challenges of the terrain in the Niagara Falls area. Also included are the details of the "wedding" or joining of the canal from Lake Erie to New York City. In chapter 17, the author reminds the reader that the extensive festivities provided a celebration lasting over 12 days. "In a space of just eight years, with no financial or any other kind of assistance from the national government or any sister state," New York's dream came true, page 309. This completed the dream and planning of De Witt Clinton. Gov. De Witt Clinton presided over the first complete voyage starting October 26, 1835 The voyage traveled the full length of the Erie Canal from the shores of Lake Erie to the Hudson River to New York City.
  • After The Wedding — This section. on page 325, reminds the reader of the canal's success such as in 1826 about 7,000 boats were operating on the canal. In 1837 the entire debt was repaid page 325. The legacy of the Erie Canal included decrease travel time, increased work load, growth and riches for New York plus the drawing together of our country with travel to and products from west of the Appalachian Mountains.
My motivation for reading the book was personal history on the development of the area. The author met my expectations with descriptions of the towns and living conditions. Elisha Couch, along with other men, purchased Greenway cemetery, Rome, New York, in 1823. The Couch family is listed in Verona in the1850 federal census. According to the federal census records, the Couch name has been in Oneida County since 1800. The Dunham name appears in the 1810 federal census for Rome. In the mid 1850s, my families migrated to Wisconsin and Illinois.

Comments or questions, please email Selma Blackmon.

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