The Niagara Ship Canal: It’s Military and Commercial Necessity


The need for a canal in the midst of the Civil War.

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According to a New York Times article from February of 1863;

The construction of a Ship Canal around the Falls of Niagara is no new idea; and its revival at this time is a necessary result of the present condition of affairs. Two or three surveys have been made over as many different routes. To the sole consideration of commerce at the time they were made, is now added that of the public defense, which, at the present moment, is the leading argument. The probability of always living at peace with our frontier neighbors has, to say the least, been somewhat shaken, and the importance of preparing in time for the means of defense on the Lakes is confessed.

This fascinating publication, issued that same year by the New York Chamber of Commerce, reflects the latest on a proposed canal across the New York side of Niagara Falls. An accompanying Map of Surveys in Niagara County (33″ x 18.75″) shows several theoretical routes, along with settlements and relevant waterways.

A second map presents the significance of the canal in relation to the broader Great Lakes region. It measures about 20.5″ x 13″ and highlights the primary transportation routes across New England and the upper Midwest. The fifteen-page text concludes by asserting the construction of the canal “would create a new bond of union between East and West, and forever secure the military and commercial ascendancy on the Great Lakes, to the Government and citizens of the United States.”


Map Details

Publication Date: 1863

Author: New York Chamber of Commerce

Sheet Width (in): See Description

Sheet Height (in): See Description

Condition: B+

Condition Description: Two maps, detached from the original 15 page pamphlet, which is present but heavily worn and loose. The maps show moderate wear and have archival repairs on the verso for separation along fold lines. The smaller of the two is toned in the lower right, but overall both remain in good condition.


1 in stock