The bicentennial of the Champlain Canal was commemorated Wednesday during a ceremony at the Champlain Canal Region Gateway Visitors Center in Schuylerville. As part of the 524-mile New York State Canal System, the 60-mile Champlain Canal that connects the Hudson River to Lake Champlain first opened in 1823, two years earlier than the completion of the Erie Canal. New York Power Authority President and CEO Justin Driscoll and New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton presented Historic Hudson Hoosic Rivers Partnership Chairman Tom Richardson with a commemorative plaque that will be displayed at the Visitors Center to mark the occasion.
“200 years after it opened, the historic Champlain Canal continues to serve as a vital waterway transportation route between the Hudson River and Lake Champlain, attracting tourists and contributing to the region’s economy,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “As we celebrate its bicentennial, I look forward to helping ensure the canal’s future remains vibrant and resilient so that it continues to support local communities for generations to come.”
Officially opened in September of 1823, the Champlain Canal allowed the region’s economy to flourish as residents and farmers were able to ship products inexpensively on the new waterway to bustling ports. Stone, iron, and agricultural products such as apples, butter, cheese, grain, and potatoes all moved aboard canal boats to be sold.
Today, the 11 locks on the Champlain Canal between Waterford and Whitehall are still utilized for commercial shipping of local products. Currently, aggregate stone from the Adirondacks is being moved by tugboats and barges to the greater New York City area to support construction projects.
In addition, the Champlain Canal is a destination for outdoor enthusiasts interested in boating on the waterway or taking in the area’s rich landscapes while walking, hiking, or cycling on the Champlain Canalway Trail, now part of the Empire State Trail, which follows sections of the canal’s original towpath. The Champlain Canal is also home to several free excursions through the New York Power Authority and Canal Corporation’s “On the Canals” program.
In 2025, to coincide with the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, New York State will host the World Canals Conference in Buffalo. The event will bring together hundreds of canal and inland waterway enthusiasts, professionals and scholars from around the world to learn about a variety of topics related to canals.