The Erie Canal opened in 1825 with great fanfare and celebrations. It was a 325 mile artificial river connecting the Hudson River with Lake Erie. This engineering wonder opened up the Midwest to settlement and provided a route for agricultural products to be shipped east and industrial goods to be shipped to the west.
As one travelled east on the Erie Canal, it turned sharply north. Here, the canal crossed over the Mohawk River in an “aqueduct.” When leaving Niskayuna via the aqueduct, you entered the bustling canal community of Rexford. A general store, now the headquarters for the Schenectady Yacht Club, stood alongside Lock 22. Another lock, 21, was located at the foot of the escarpment that you see on the north side of the river as the canal turned further east.
If you look toward the far side of the river you will notice a narrow island. This was the south berm of the feeder canal that regulated water flow in the canal east of Lock 21.
A century ago, there was a large hotel on either end of the Aqueduct and this area was a destination for an industrial society during a period when families experienced increased leisure time.
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If you look to the west you can see the remaining concrete piers that supported a trolley bridge constructed in 1904. The trolley brought “day trippers” from Schenectady through Niskayuna out to an amusement park on the bluff just west of Rexford. The trolley also went beyond to Saratoga Springs. At the time it was constructed, it was considered the longest trolley bridge in the world. The bridge and rails were dismantled during World War II and the steel used to support the war effort.