Canal Society of New York State

38 Rochester Street
Port Byron, New York 13140

Amie Flanigan -

Canal Society of New York State


The Canal Society of New York State was formed in Buffalo in 1956 at the annual meeting of the New York State Historical Association. In that first year, membership was open to anyone interested in the history, folklore, and engineering of former canals and the present condition of the state’s remaining man-made waterways. This is still the primary focus of Canal Society members today.

DeWitt Clinton, a Buffalo lawyer who was a direct descendant of the famous Governor of New York, was the first president of the new society. Other officers included Secretary Treasurer Richard Wright of Syracuse, who was also president of the Onondaga Historical Society. In 1957, the group began offering two field trips per year to canal sites in different parts of New York State.

More than 50 years later, the Canal Society of New York State has an active membership and still organizes two field trips per year, as well as an annual symposium, regular tours of European Canals, and other, smaller events. The Society has compiled a Smithsonian-quality collection of canal artifacts, artwork, books and papers.

Canal Society of New York State is a member of the South Central Regional Library Council.


Barge Canal Construction: Middle Division

These photographs document construction of the middle section of the Barge Canal and the first few years of its use, from 1905-1925.

Gayer Collection

Historic glass and film negatives, prints, and postcards documenting life along New York State’s canals, including the Erie Canal, Black River Canal, and Champlain Canal from the collection of Albert Gayer.

a man in a factory

Materials from the Hanna and Barben collections, including photographs of Goulds Pumps in Seneca Falls.

Horne Collection

These photographs were taken from 1904-1914, during construction of the Panama Canal, in locations throughout and beyond the Canal Zone.

Madden Collection

Historic glass negatives, prints, and postcards depicting the Erie Canal and other waterways in New York and Canada from the collection of Emily and J. Hayward Madden of Livonia, NY

Soule Collection

Historic postcards related to the canals of New York State and Canada (1902-1948), from the collection of F. Channing Soule, an instrumental figure in establishing the Canal Society of New York State.

Boat Interior

Materials from the Weseloh Collection: canal-related materials donated by Todd and Connie Weseloh.