Missing Markers that were stolen or destroyed!
As soon as the Erie Canal was finished and the different stops along the canal gained great prosperity and as communities along the way garnered great wealth, the cry for additional lateral canals was heard across the state. It was proposed that canals running north and south would bring goods, coal, raw material… as well as settlers to the expanding landscape of the State of New York.
One such canal was the Chenango Canal. The canal was proposed to bring coal to the central area of Chenango and Madison Counties and commerce out to the Erie Canal at Utica.
Some feel the hesitation on the part of the legislature to OK such canals was the realization that the railroad was quickly becoming a better source of travel. Some of the drawbacks to the canals were that much of the time these canals would freeze over in the winter.
Finally, after much political pressure and wrangling, the Chenango Canal appeared on the horizon, a canal that would run from the Erie Canal to Pennsylvania… the home of coal.
The survey of the canal was done by two sources – one was James Geddes, one of the original engineers of the Erie. Geddes laid the canal out and noted that the natural landscape of Eaton at the summit level could be dammed to hold enough water to feed the canal.
The total cost of construction and improvements came to $4,789,470.58. The unfortunate fact was the collection tolls and superintendence and repairs were $2,081,738.85. The loss in operating costs ran to $1,337,711.74. Another factor that hindered its success was that it did not have a number of Weigh locks like the Erie to check load capacity.
The total revenue derived from the canal was only $744,027.11. In 1868, the canal had its greatest tonnage of 112,455 tons.
In April of 1863, an extension of fifty miles was authorized. This was to extend the North Branch Canal to Pennsylvania. In 1865, the work was started but was never completed, although $1,600,889.19 was expended.
By the 1870s, there was much public sentiment for the discontinuance of many of the state canals. This was due primarily to three factors: fraud, administration of the canal cost of maintenance, and, of course, the success of the railroads.
So in 1874, a constitutional amendment was authorized permitting the sale or abandonment of all canals operated by the state except the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, Cayuga and Seneca canals. A law of 1877 authorized the disposal and sale of the Chenango canal and on May 1, 1878, it was discontinued.
The making of the canal and the importance of the Eaton area, however, created a scenic area that continued to prosper for many years because of the many reservoirs that were established to make the canal a reality.