Stairway to Empire

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Patrick Vincent McGreevy. The stunning achievement of the Erie Canal’s completion is brought to life in this riveting story. In the spring of 1821, thousands of workers descended on the isolated village of Lockport, New York, twenty miles east of Niagara Falls. Their goal was to dig and blast a waterway through the so-called Mountain Ridge, the escarpment over which the Niagara River flows, and to divert some of that river’s flow eastward, thus completing the Erie Canal. This final obstacle would take five years to overcome, and the Lockport Locks, the ingenious device that carried boats to the top of the ridge, would come to be seen as an icon of American achievement–like the Erie Canal itself, a stairway to empire. State University of New York Press, 2009, 309pp.