The Raging Erie

Life and Labor Along the Erie Canal

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Pub Date Jul 02 2024 | Archive Date Oct 09 2024

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Description

The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 was a monumental achievement. Linking the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, it transformed New York City into a hub of international trade, drove the rise of industrial cities in once sparsely populated areas, and accelerated the westward expansion of the United States. Yet few of the laborers who toiled along the canal shared in the prosperity it brought.

Mark S. Ferrara tells the stories of the ordinary people who lived, worked, and died along the banks of the canal, emphasizing the forgotten role of the poor and working class in this epochal transformation. The Raging Erie chronicles the fates of the Native Americans whose land was appropriated for the canal, the European immigrants who bored its route through the wilderness, and the orphan children who drove draft animals that pulled boats around the clock. Ferrara also shows how the canal served as a conduit for the movement of new ideas and religions, a corridor for enslaved people seeking freedom via the Underground Railroad, and a spur for social reform movements that emerged in response to the poverty and suffering along its path.

Brimming with vivid characters drawn from the underbelly of antebellum life, The Raging Erie explores the social dislocation and untold hardships at the heart of a major engineering feat, shedding light on the lives of the canallers who toiled on behalf of American expansion.

The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 was a monumental achievement. Linking the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, it transformed New York City into a hub of international trade, drove the rise of...


Advance Praise

"Ferrara has written a terrific and necessary book about the deeper depths of the Erie Canal and the underside of the American Dream. With the bicentennial of the great waterway upon us, Raging Erie uncovers the lives of the many laboring people who are often castaways in America’s first transportation revolution. A must-read."

--Richard S. Newman, author of Love Canal: A Toxic History from Colonial Times to the Present

"Ferrara has written a terrific and necessary book about the deeper depths of the Erie Canal and the underside of the American Dream. With the bicentennial of the great waterway upon us, Raging Erie...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780231216388
PRICE $24.00 (USD)
PAGES 272

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Average rating from 7 members


Featured Reviews

A great description of life and labor along the Erie Canal. The study is a skillful blend of immigration, labor, and social history that captures the hard lives of toil these workers endured. Ferrara depicts an ecosystem of labor that takes into account the worksite, company infrastructure, and informal social networks that shaped the lives of these laborers. I feel like the canal building projects were the Eastern and Midwestern equivalent of the building of the railroads in the west.

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