Falls Canal Celebration)
The kids in the photo are competing in their town's Youth Fishing Derby to see who can catch the most fish. The event is part of the Little Falls, New York, Canal Celebration -- an annual festival that celebrates the importance of the Erie Canal to the city.
In the early 1800s, there were few roads, so the shipping of goods over land was expensive. The construction of the Erie Canal in the 1820s helped solve this problem for travel through New York state. A canal is a man-made waterway through which boats can navigate. The Erie Canal connected Buffalo on the eastern shore of Lake Erie to Albany on the upper Hudson River, which ran south to New York City. The canal allowed people and supplies to move between New York City and Buffalo and on to the upper Midwest territories. What used to cost $100 to ship by land now cost only $10 by canal. A journey that used to take a few weeks could now be made in less than seven days. The Erie Canal was an important force in the economic development of the area.