Building the Erie Canal by Linda Thompson

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Of that number, 44 percent were Irish, 30 percent were German, and 15 percent English. Immigration tripled in the 1840s, rising to 2,814,554 during the 1850s. Meanwhile, the total population of the United States more than doubled over 30 years, increasing from 9,600,000 in 1820 to 23,200,000 in 1850. 35 Following New York’s example, other states soon began forming canal corporations and building their own canals. Ohio linked the Great Lakes with the Mississippi Valley in 1834, permitting barge and boat traffic as far as New Orleans, Louisiana.

Immigration tripled in the 1840s, rising to 2,814,554 during the 1850s. Meanwhile, the total population of the United States more than doubled over 30 years, increasing from 9,600,000 in 1820 to 23,200,000 in 1850. 35 Following New York’s example, other states soon began forming canal corporations and building their own canals. Ohio linked the Great Lakes with the Mississippi Valley in 1834, permitting barge and boat traffic as far as New Orleans, Louisiana. Pennsylvania built a system of canals to Pittsburgh, which meant having to cross the Allegheny Mountains at an elevation of 2,300 feet (700 meters).

By 1850, a railroad system connected New York City with Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, and in 1856 Chicago was added to the network. Freight companies quickly moved their business to railroads, which were faster and superior overall, especially in winter, when canals were subject to freezing. 37 Men working on canal bridge construction, 1908. Bridge construction, 1909. The Erie Canal was enlarged in 1862 and continued to build in traffic, reaching its peak in the 1880s. It was expanded twice more in 1895 and 1918.

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