Town of Montezuma Collection

Collection Owner:
Cover Image:
 aerial view of downtown Montezuma, NY
Airview of Montezuma, NY - Image Source

Collection Facts


Historical Context

Montezuma is a small rural hamlet located in Cayuga County, NY, part of the beautiful Finger Lakes Region and along the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. 

It became the western terminal when the first section of the Erie Canal opened in 1820. Work on the “middle section” of the canal between Utica and Montezuma began after groundbreaking at Rome in 1817. The Cayuga/Seneca Canal was connected to the Erie Canal, and in 1828 it opened up 80 miles of lakes to navigation on the two largest Finger Lakes. Montezuma was a bustling village becoming the head of navigation while the building of the Erie Canal proceeded westward.

Because crossing the Seneca River at Montezuma was so difficult, the State decided to relocate the canal to higher ground, and to build an aqueduct to carry boats across the shallow river.  The magnificent Richmond Aqueduct, built in 1849, carried the Erie Canal waters over the Seneca River. 

- Cheryl Longyear, Montezuma Town Historian

Special Content:

This project was supported with federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds allocated to the New York State Library by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).