Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Tuesday. 28th.

Thursday 30th.

Wednesday. 29th. CFA


Wednesday. 29th. CFA
Wednesday. 29th.

The morning was cloudy and it rained heavily at noon, but the afternoon was clear and bright. We followed our course steadily until we reached Lockport at eleven. This is the most considerable work on this great Canal. Here a rise takes place of sixty feet in the level at once, which is managed by five successive Locks and then there is a deep cutting through a ridge of rocks for about two miles. The excavation is from six to twenty feet high. Here it is that one may consider the grandeur of an undertaking like this. Three hundred and fifty miles of artificial water navigation, two of which alone at Lockport were enough as an enterprise. I think more highly of DeWitt Clinton’s courage and capacity since I have been here.1 We passed through the ascending side of the Locks with unusually small delay, regretting only that the heavy rain shower which fell deprived us of the opportunity to examine the work more minutely. Our course after this was uninterrupted.

We soon reached Pendleton where the Tonawanda Creek becomes the Canal and shows how far superior natural banks will always seem to the works of art. The Creek is quite wide and the Current which sets down relieves very much the draught of the horses. At a little stopping place, we heard a low, rumbling sound which attracted my attention. The boatmen announced it to be the Fall of Niagara. That Fall which I had come so far to see was now within hearing distance at least. I cannot precisely describe the feeling I had upon the occasion. It was not very powerful and yet it was singular. The distance in a straight line was probably about fifteen miles, and the wind was favorable.

We reached our destination, a little village called Tonawanda, situated at the point where the Creek flows into the Niagara River. Opposite is Grand Island, the scene of Mr. White’s speculation. When the Canal was built a dam was placed across the Creek in order to throw back the water and raise the level to Lockport by which a further cutting of three feet through the rock might be saved. The same policy made it necessary to extend the Canal eight miles to Buffalo instead of stopping at this the nearest point. The high water of this season has

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however carried away the dam and thus opened the course of the Creek. Nothing can be more uninviting than the appearance of the place and yet Mr. White has fitted up a place to live here the whole Summer. The banks are low and marshy and the rains have covered every thing with mud. After tea, we retired early, being delighted to get a good bed again even though a feather bed, after the hard accommodations of the boat.


The completion of the 362 miles of the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo in 1825 came fittingly during the governorship of Dewitt Clinton whose political career since 1810 had been marked by unswerving support and advocacy for the project ( DAB ).