The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor was established on December 21, 2000 (P.L. 106-554, Title VIII, Sec. 801). The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor covers 524 miles in Upstate New York, including four navigable waterways: Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca; sections of the first Erie Canal; and over 200 municipalities adjacent to the canals.
On June 17th, 2002, the National Park Service, in partnership with the State of New York, formalized the 27-member Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission. The purpose of this commission is to work with federal, state, and local authorities in creating and implementing a Canalway Plan for the corridor that fosters the integration of canal-related historical, cultural, recreational, scenic, economic and community development initiatives.
The New York State Canal System is the most commercially enduring and historically significant canalway in the United States. This waterway played a key role in turning New York City into a preeminent center for commerce, industry, and finance. Besides being a catalyst for growth in the Mohawk and Hudson valleys, these canals helped open up western America for settlement and for many years transported much of the Midwest's agricultural and industrial products to domestic and international markets.