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Champlain Canal

By bike, boat or car, the Champlain Canal Region of Lakes to Locks Passage offers 64 miles of a unique American experience. The natural forces and native peoples of the Hudson-Champlain Valley conspired to create a fertile landscape rich in early American History. From earliest pre-colonial times, the Iroquois Confederacy and other Native American tribes used the valleys as a passageway for strategic communication and water travel. Early voyagers could navigate the Hudson River as far north as Fort Edward before it was necessary to portage overland to the headwaters of Lake Champlain.

By the early 17th century, the Dutch settlers of Albany had established a series of successful fur trading posts in villages along the Hudson River. It was along this route that British General John Burgoyne marched southward in his military campaign of 1777. His efforts were thwarted just north of Stillwater in the Battles of Saratoga, one of the most decisive military victories in world history. This conflict is commemorated in Saratoga National Historical Park.

The Champlain Canal was opened in 1823 and consisted of a land cut channel from the Hudson River to a canalized Wood Creek, which joins Lake Champlain at Whitehall, the birthplace of the United States Navy. Later efforts to build a canal large enough for ocean-going vessels were too ambitious and costly to implement. Instead, an enlarged barge canal incorporating the Glens Feeder Canal was built in 1916.

Today, recreational boaters use the Champlain Canal to gain access to Lake Champlain and further north to the Richelieu River Valley of Quebec in Canada. The features of this once-bustling commercial canal, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Areas, are still visible in many places along the route.