The Erie Rising

All along its 360-mile route, towns to which the canal gave birth are looking to its powerful ghost for economic revival.

Armed with a faded picture and a dream, we set out from the supermarket parking lot. Our quest: one of the last visible remnants of the old Erie Canal. We check our equipment, hike through the wilderness of SUVs and shopping carts, and toil up a slope. At the summit, a full minute later, we scout ahead. Nothing but trees. We spot some natives. Following their directions, we negotiate our way through a trackless wasteland. And there it is: the Erie Canal, covered with brush and trees and chest-high ferns.

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