It’s been a long and interesting trip, but the Little Falls scene is finally finished.
This picture is meant to show a few things.
First, the technical challenge of surmounting the 40-foot height of the rapids at Little Falls. That was accomplished by a series of five locks, two of which were placed in quick succession and are shown here.
Second, the Little Falls Aqueduct, which was constructed partly to solve the political problem created when surveyors located the new canal on the south bank of the Mohawk River, potentially isolating the village of Little Falls on the north bank. This compromise resulted in one of the iconic locations of the early canal, a scene repeatedly depicted by artists throughout the 19th century.
Little Falls itself was beginning a rapid growth spurt, represented by the cluster of buildings in the distance.
This part of the canal was completed and successfully watered late in 1823. Passenger service began in earnest the following spring, when four packets operated by the Utica and Schenectady Packet Boat Company began running regular schedules between those two cities. One of the boats is included here.
Then there was the surprisingly difficult challenge of digging up information about the road bridge across the Mohawk. The three-arched wooden bridge shown here, partially visible behind the aqueduct, represents an educated guess as to how it might have looked.
Finally, the early-morning activity will hopefully show just how busy this little place was. Soon the canal would be open along its entire length and things would get even busier. Between 1824 and 1918 the canal would be enlarged, and then enlarged again, and then again. Little Falls, its historic river, and the picturesque gorge would never be the same.