As I’ve been mentioning cycling the route of the Erie Canal, a few people have told me they are unfamiliar with the canal. Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal stretched 363 miles (584 km) from Buffalo, NY to Albany, NY. It allowed goods and materials to be inexpensively transported by water from the Midwest to the Port of New York for trade and export. This helped a growing country to expand economically and geographically. It made New York City the chief port and economic center of the US. Several cities sprang up along the route to service the needs of those traveling the canal. Eventually, much of the materials previously brought by canal barges began to be transported by rail. In 1918, the historic canal was replaced with a more modern waterway.