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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended May 28, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 31May00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Erie Canal celebrates a landmark anniversary
Albany NY Times Union pgD1 25May00 N6
By Paul Grondahl: Staff writer

ALBANY, NEW YORK -- A New York historian reports that Brigham Young, who was later the second prophet of the LDS Church, worked on the Erie Canal in 1825, just prior to its opening. The historian mentioned the event in connection with the 175th anniversary of the opening of the canal.

Young was one of thousands of local laborers hired to work on the 363-mile, 40-foot-wide and 4-foot-deep canal. Young was working as a painting contractor in 1825, and billed the state of New York's canal superintendent, an R. Matson, $200 for painting a few lockhouses and bridges on the canal. The bill and receipt for the work is located in the New York State Archives, one of the more than 5 million documents concerning the canal that are in the state archives.

According to Craig Williams, history curator with the State Museum and a canal scholar who previously worked at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, Brigham Young's contribution was probably just sprucing up a portion of the canal for the grand opening, "That stretch of the canal that Young painted had actually been in use, so my guess is that he was paid to spruce things up before the opening ceremonies in 1825," Williams said.

The canal had a significant impact on the economy of New York State, reducing the shipping cost per ton by 95% and making travel to and within western New York much easier. It created canal boom towns along the way. The anniversary of the canal was celebrated in Albany last week.


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