Monday, June 6, 2016

I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal

“I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal…”

This is the opening lines of a popular folk song about the canal that ran across New York State from well, as the song goes: Al-Bany to Buf- a –low.

363 miles long with 36 locks, it opened in 1825, was enlarged 1834 and 1862. Finally it became the New York State Barge Canal in 1918. Boring facts. But what about the life of the people who lived along the canal and hauled those barges back and forth? That is the interesting stuff. Fortunately, for those that would like to learn more about it, many people wrote about canal life.

Although fictional there are a number of books that tell the stories of what it was like living near and on the Erie Canal. Here is a sampling of some of the classic books:

Adult Reading Level Books:

The Boyds of Black River: A Family Chronicle by Walter D. Edmonds.
            The Black River was also part of a canal that fed off of the Erie.

Canal Town by Samuel Hopkins Adams

Mostly Canallers by Walter D. Edmonds

Rome Haul by Walter D. Edmonds

Grandfather Stories by Samuel Hopkins Adams
Not about the canal itself, this tells about Adams growing up in Auburn and Rochester. His grandfather who lived in Rochester was involved with the canal.

Young Adult Books

The Erie Canal by Samuel Hopkins Adams

The Treasure in The Trunk by Helen Fuller Orton

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