Diggin’ the Erie Canal

The historic project that was the famous Erie Canal--all of four feet deep--was begun in 1817. New York was never to be the same, and many of the famous cities of upstate New York exist for the simple reason they were begun along the route of the Canal.

I’ve been photographing bits and pieces of the Eastern half of the route, both the original parts which are just remnants and the upgraded version of the mid-1800s, and even the current Barge Canal which is a whole different beast. These aren’t documentary--others can be more thorough and factual if they’d like--but are instinctive impressions of this and that, after years of looking and daydreaming and imagining.


In fact, the Erie Canal has become for me an excuse for observing the variegated landscape and cityscape around it. The ribbon of water, the ruins, the little depressions in the earth and overgrown meadows and woods that are now the old Canal, are all just sirens calling for me, and I respond.

William Jaeger, 2017