Our TruthQuest History studies brought us to the amazing Erie Canal this week. At 363 miles long, it was the longest in the world, built in the least amount of time, for the least money. It also seems to have had quite a few folk songs written about it, some more colorful than others. But that's what the "fast forward" button is for, right?
We read some great books:
The Erie Canal by Peter Spier - filled with those wonderful, see-something-new-every-time-you-look-at-them illustrations;
The Amazing, Impossible Erie Canal by Cheryl Harness;
The Erie Canal by Samuel Hopkins Adams - a wonderful gem in the old Landmark series.
Then we decided to go to the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, NY and take a little ride on an authentic packet boat!
Well, OK, the boat was stationary, but we used our imaginations.
We're not exactly sure where people slept if they were taller than a five-year-old.
Probably the floor.
The museum is housed in the only surviving "weigh lock" building in the world. Boats were put into the lock, the water was pumped out and the boat was lowered onto a wooden cradle suspended by spring arms. Once it was weighed, water was pumped back in and the boat was on it's way. All of this was done in 15 minutes!
This interactive display allowed you to drag the boats in, weigh them and collect the tolls.