For 44 years in the mid-1800s, the Crooked Lake Canal provided a path to transport goods between Keuka and Seneca Lakes as part of the canal system of waterways that was being built across New York State. Such a system was first proposed in the late 1700s, but it took 50 years for work to begin.

Ground was broken for the Erie Canal at Rome, July 4, 1817. By the end of the year, about 15 miles of canal were completed; by 1825, both the Erie and Champlain canals were completed.

Portions of the Crooked Lake canal are still visible, but little is known about the boats that helped create a boom economy in nearby communities like Penn Yan and Dresden.

Canal boats were vital in the early 19th Century as a badly needed means of shipping for local farmers and businesses, until railroads came along to take over the job.

Canal boats once plied the Chemung Canal and Crooked Lake Canal, and were towed on the lakes by steamboats so they could connect with the Erie Canal.  Canal boats had to be registered in Albany with the boat name and the owner’s name.

A talk by Historian Gary Emerson Oct. 16 will describe different types of boats and how they navigated the local lakes and canals.


Emerson will make his presentation at the Dundee Masonic Lodge, 15 Main St., Dundee at an event hosted by the Dundee Area Historical Society. A social time will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by a baked ziti dinner at 6 p.m. and program at 7 p.m. 

Tickets are $12 for Dundee Area Historical Society members and $16 for non-members. Make a reservation at 607-243-7047 or email by 5 p.m. Oct. 12.