Guide to Canal Records
Other Canal Records
A0867. Whiteprint copies of maps of lands permanently appropriated by the State for canal purposes ("blue line maps"), 1917-1948. 28 cu. ft. (69 portfolios containing ca. 850 maps)
Arrangement: Geographical by portfolio and therein numerical by map number.
This series consists of whiteprint copies of original survey maps, commonly referred to as "blue line maps," of land appropriated by the State for canal purposes. The maps depict in minute detail lands acquired for canal purposes up to and including the time of construction of the Barge Canal. The Department of Public Works (earlier the State Engineer and Surveyor) produced and retained the original maps and submitted whiteprint copies to the Comptroller and Secretary of State. This set of maps was filed with the Comptroller.
Laws of 1910 (Chapter 199) and 1917 (Chapter 51) authorized the production of "blue line maps" (the blue lines indicated boundaries of State-owned lands along the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, Black River, and Cayuga and Seneca canals) to minimize property disputes resulting from the construction of the Barge Canal. The maps depict inner angles of the towpaths on the old canal; property owned by the State prior to Barge Canal construction; property appropriated by the State for the Barge Canal project; locations of the old canal lines; location of the proposed Barge Canal; and various structures, roads, streets, and other landmarks and the names of owners of private property adjacent to the canal.
Finding aids: A portfolio list provides inclusive map numbers and brief description of canal and geographic area.
A0872. Engrossed minutes of the Canal Commissioners, 1849-1857. 0.5 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This volume consists mainly of resolutions of the Canal Commissioners giving the date, names of persons present, resolution, and vote.
A1081. Canal fund accounts (receipt and disbursement book), 1824-1832. 0.3 cu. ft. (1 volume)
Arrangement: Chronological within each account.
This series consists of ledger accounts of the Commissioners of the Canal Fund (through 1826) and of the Canal Fund of New York State (starting 1827). A pencilled notation in the front of the volume indicates that this was merely a change in bookkeeping procedure. The volume contains accounts with the Commissioners of the Canal Fund, the Superintendents of Repairs, and banks in New York City and Albany in which Canal Fund monies were deposited. There are also accounts for expenses on canals and for interest on canal stock. At the beginning of the volume are balance sheets for the Canal Fund for 1824 and 1825.
A1145. Vouchers for expenditures on account of canal fund, 1833-1900, bulk 1853-1900. 34 cu. ft.
Vouchers for canal expenditures were submitted for audit to the Comptroller (prior to 1848 and after 1883) or to the Chief Clerk or Auditor of the Canal Department (1848-1883) by the Canal Commissioners, Superintendents of Repairs, engineers, toll collectors, Canal Appraisers, and other canal officials. The vouchers vary greatly in form; some are handwritten, most printed, but all provide name of payee, nature of expenditure, and amount of payment. Attached to the vouchers are bills, invoices, orders to pay, and letters. The vouchers include many "Refunding Vouchers" for refund of overpaid tolls. The vouchers were boxed with an attached label bearing dates of vouchers within (often the date is wrong by several years). The boxes prior to 1883 were labelled "Canal Auditor vouchers." Those after 1883 were labelled "Comptroller's vouchers on account of Canal Fund." There are very few vouchers from before 1853.
A1096. Monthly bank balances of Canal Fund, 1833-1835. 0.2 cu. ft.
A1085. Canal Fund account book, 1835-1840. 0.3 cu. ft. (1 volume)
Arrangement: Chronological within each account.
This volume is a ledger of accounts of the Commissioners of the Canal Fund for Erie and Champlain Canal Fund and stock, and for stock of the Cayuga and Seneca, Crooked Lake, Chenango, Oswego, and Black River canals. There are also accounts with the Canal Commissioners, Superintendents of Repairs, and banks in New York City, Albany, and elsewhere in which tolls and canal loan premiums were deposited.
A0826. Entry documentation submitted by the Commissioners of Navigation to the comptroller, 1794-1828. 1 cu. ft.
This series contains records of the commissioners appointed by a law of 1796 (Chapter 40) regarding the improvement of the navigation of the Hudson River. This and subsequent related acts appropriated money and authorized the collection of voluntary contributions to fund the deepening of the river. The commissioners were to raise funds and furnish supplies for the project; to certify their expenses to the Treasurer, who would pay the amounts spent by the commissioners; and to present accounts of their expenditures to the State auditor. The records include accounts, voluntary contributions and bonds, income and expense reports, receipts, and other related records which generally provide the date and names of commissioners, donors, or those who held accounts with the commissioners.
A1089. Canal stock transfer receipt book, 1820-1824. 0.3 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This is a book (labeled "C") of receipts for transfers of New York State six per cent canal stock through the Transfer Office in New York City. Each entry provides transfer number; date; parties to conveyance and their residences; amount; and signatures of conveyor and a witness.
A1087. Accounts of Canal Commissioners for expenditures on branch canals, 1825-1837. 0.3 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Chronological within each account.
This book includes accounts for the Oswego Canal, 1825-1832; Genesee Valley Canal, 1836-1840; Black River Canal, 1837-1840; Oneida River Improvement, 1840; Chenango Canal, 1833-1839; Cayuga and Seneca Canal, 1825-1830; Chemung Canal, 1830-1840; and Crooked Lake Canal, 1831-1835. Each entry provides name of payee; date of voucher; location or type of work performed; and amount due. Each numbered and dated group of vouchers is then totalled and a running total kept.
Indexes: Table of contents in front cover.
A1158. Engineers' abstracts and vouchers for survey of canal routes, 1825-1835. 0.3 cu. ft.
Vouchers document expenses incurred during surveys of proposed branch canals, some of which were never built. There are also abstracts of vouchers, listing them by date, name of payee, and amount, and related correspondence. The abstracts and vouchers are labelled with the name of the engineer, location of route surveyed, and total amount of vouchers. The branch canal surveys were authorized by a law of 1825 (Chapter 236), and by several joint resolutions passed by the Legislature in 1829.
A0013. Abstracts, check rolls, and vouchers for canal expenditures, 1827-1880. 247 cu. ft.
Arrangement: By canal (starting with Erie), then chronological by year, then alphabetical by name of Superintendent of Repairs.
These abstracts, check rolls, and vouchers were submitted monthly or bi-monthly to the Canal Commissioners by Superintendents of Repairs, pursuant to a law of 1826 (Chapter 314). The records provide detailed information on labor performed (including laborers' names and wages) and expenditures for various construction or repair projects on the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, Cayuga and Seneca, Chemung, Crooked Lake, Chenango, Genesee Valley, and Black River canals.
The principal voucher, or "check roll," made out by the foreman of a particular project, provides the following for each laborer: name; pay voucher number; number of days worked in past month; rate of pay per day; and amount of pay due. The check roll also contains a brief description of the work done (repairing towpath, breaking stone, etc.) and the foreman's affidavit that the information is correct. Accompanying this principal voucher are vouchers for materials (e.g. lumber, stone, gravel, etc.) and additional labor (e.g. teams for hauling).
All of the vouchers are numbered sequentially and entered in numerical order in the abstracts of expenditures prepared by the Superintendents of Repairs. For each voucher entered, the abstracts provide name of payee; nature of expenditure; and amount of payment in various categories (check rolls, lock tending, labor, materials, merchants' and mechanics' bills, and miscellaneous). At the end of the abstracts are totals and balances of the figures; the Superintendent's affidavit as to the accuracy of the report, and the Canal Commissioner's certificate that the expenditures were "proper and reasonable."
Finding aids: Container list; list of Superintendents of Repairs by canal section number, 1841-1855.
Indexes: Card file name index to superintendents.
A1142. Bonds of canal employees, contractors, and boards, 1827-1876. 3 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Chronological by year.
Series consists of bonds given by Superintendents of Repairs, toll collectors, contractors for labor and materials, and banks holding deposits of tolls. The series also contains copies of oaths sworn by the weigh masters, boat inspectors, and clerks of toll collectors, who were not required to post bond. Bonds take different forms, but all promise to stand surety to the State of New York for all monies received in conduct of business. For later years the records include bonds given by contractors and banks, as well as by employees; it is unknown whether these were filed together originally. Legislation of 1826 required Superintendents of Repairs and toll collectors to give bond "for the faithful execution of his trust." Legislation of 1827 and many subsequent acts required the same of contractors.
A1265. Accounts for enlargement and improvement of the Erie Canal, 1835-1849. 0.5 cu. ft.
This volume contains accounts for work and materials furnished on contract under laws of 1835 (Chapter 274) and 1838 (Chapter 269) and for repairs made under a law of 1843 (Chapter 30). Accounts include statement of location of contract (lock or section), name of contractor, and type of work or material furnished with quantity and value. Some statements are followed by a resident engineer's certification that the statement is correct, and by a note of payment by the Canal Commissioners. At the end of the volume are regulations adopted by the Canal Commissioners regarding survey of proposed canal enlargement; other resolutions of the Canal Commissioners; and copies of reports and accounts related to enlargement of the canal submitted to the Canal Commissioners by the chief engineer for the first division.
Indexes: Alphabetical index to contractors at front of volume.
A1092. Account book for cash paid out for Black River, Genesee Valley, and other branch canals, 1840-1859. 0.3 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Chronological within each account.
This account book documents cash payments for construction or repairs of the Black River, Genesee Valley, Crooked Lake, Chemung, and other branch canals, and for the Oneida River Improvement. Accounts are for individuals or firms supplying materials or services. Each entry provides date, voucher number, amount paid, and occasionally a brief note on type of work done. A list of "miscellaneous payments" lists payments to individuals for labor, damages or repairs to their property, etc.
A1179. Superintendent of Repairs' unpaid accounts, 1846- 1875. 0.3 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Chronological by date of abstract.
This series contains abstracts of unpaid accounts, each concerning one section of a canal during a sixty-day period. Each abstract provides date of purchase or of labor performed; to whom payment due; purpose of payment; reason not paid; and amount owed. The signature of a Superintendent of Repairs certifies the accuracy of each abstract. These accounts were submitted to the Comptroller pursuant to Canal Board Resolution No. 15 and Chapter 224, Laws of 1827.
A0857. Canal superintendents' accounts, 1852-1858. 0.3 cu. ft. (1 volume)
Arrangement: By canal, then chronological.
This volume contains accounts of superintendents of various sections of New York State's canals and provides date monies paid out or received; nature of the transaction; amount; and figures on services and disbursements. Correspondence was included with some accounts for clarification of a particular entry. Also occasionally included are attestations to the fact that work has been completed or monies received.
Indexes: Index to each superintendent's statement in front of volume.
A1399. Canvasses of proposals for enlargement of Erie Canal and completion of Genesee Valley Canal, 1854-1857. 2 cu. ft. (7 volumes)
Arrangement: Numerical by canal section number.
These volumes contain canvass sheets for the enlargement of the Erie Canal and completion of the Genesee Valley Canal. Resident engineers and their assistants compiled the canvass sheets and submitted them to the Canal Contracting Board. Each sheet contains section number, proposition number, name of bidder, amount of work to be done (grubbing, cleaning, bailing, draining, excavation, masonry, etc., in cubic yards), and quantity of materials needed (timber and iron), with dollar amounts proposed by each bidder. The front of each volume contains a certificate from the division engineer stating that he has canvassed the propositions received by the Canal Contracting Board, with place and date of letting.
A1082. Canal auditor's decisions, 1854-1882. 0.3 cu. ft. (1 volume)
These are abstracts of decisions made the by Auditor of the Canal Department regarding canal tolls and other regulations. The volume also records appointments and removals of canal toll collectors and other officials.
A1442. Miscellaneous maps and plans of canal structures, ca. 1830-1900. 0.3 cu. ft.
These maps and plans of canal structures and works were originally attached to contracts, petitions, awards by Canal Appraisers, and other documents. Some of the maps give no indication of their origin. At some point they were removed from those series and filed together.
A1091. Measurements, calculations, and estimates for construction of Chenango Canal, 1833-1837. 1 cu. ft. (3 volumes)
Arrangement: Numerical by section number.
This series consists of three volumes of measurements, calculations and estimates for construction of the Chenango Canal. For each survey station (approximately three chains apart) there are calculations of cubic footage of excavation, embankment (towpath, berm, etc.), and lining, with comments and totals. For each section of the canal there is an abstract of the account for that section, listing work done, extra material used, pay rate, total amount due, date, and contractor's name. There are also special calculations for canal feeders, locks, culverts, aqueducts, dams, fences, waste water weirs, etc., including detailed figures for amount and value of stone and wood work and drawings of locks, culverts, and other works.
A1078. Canal engineer's field notes for Erie Canal, 1834. 0.5 cu. ft. (5 volumes)
Field notes were made for the Canal Commissioners pursuant to Revised Statutes of 1827 (Part I, Chapter 9, Title 9, Article 1) requiring that maps and field notes be prepared for all canals constructed by the State. The field notes are in the form of a diagram of the canal in which the right of way is shown as a straight line despite deviations in course. The diagram shows courses and distances (in red); right of way (boundaries of State-owned land, shown in blue); locks; basins; culverts; bridges; aqueducts; mill races and ponds; buildings adjoining the canal; and landowners' names. Each volume includes an explanation signed by engineer Holmes Hutchinson. Pasted in are statements of transmittal from Canal Commissioners to the Canal Board, and of filing with the Comptroller's Office.
A1133. Superintendents of Repairs' annual reports of structures or work completed or repaired, 1841-1875. 1 cu. ft.
Each annual report lists the number of locks, aqueducts, waste weirs, weigh locks, bridges, scows, buildings, dams, repairs of breaches, and other works or structures completed or repaired during the past year, with the cost of new and repair work and total cost in each category. At the head of the report are given the name of the superintendent, location of section, and date.
A1190. Field notes of canal engineers, 1841-1851. 0.1 cu. ft. (3 volumes)
These three small leather bound books contain field notes and calculations of engineers employed on the canal system. One book is dated 1847-1849 and was kept by C.E. Gray for work near Canajoharie; another is a level book kept on the middle division of the Oswego Canal in 1851; and a third is a level book kept near Marcellus in 1841. A law of 1851 (Chapter 377) required engineers to file their field notes with the Comptroller, but it is unknown how these earlier books came into his possession.
A1177. Superintendent of Repairs' reports of inspection of materials and tools, 1849-1852. 0.1 cu. ft.
Each report provides name of contractor, date and expiration of contract, the quantity, kind, description, and value of materials delivered or rejected, and the amount and value of materials delivered or still due. At the end of the report is an affidavit of inspection by a canal commissioner or Superintendent of Repairs.
A1176. Superintendent of Repairs' reports of locktenders employed by contractors for repairs, 1863-1864. 0.3 cu. ft.
Each monthly report provides name and section of canal, number or name of lock, and names of locktenders. Reports contain affidavits of section superintendents.
A1266. Canal Commissioners' estimates of work done and materials delivered on Erie, Champlain, and Black River canals, 1867-1868. 0.3 cu. ft. (5 booklets)
Arrangement: Entries are roughly geographical.
These estimates were submitted to the Canal Commissioners by the resident engineer for work done and material delivered for various improvements on the Erie (eastern division), Champlain, and Black River canals, including canal sections, locks, dams, dock and pier at Whitehall, and other work. Entries provide location of improvement, quantity and value of material used, name of contractor, and labor performed. Booklets are addressed to R.C. Dorn, Canal Commissioner and contain the resident engineer's certification as to the accuracy of the information provided.
A1273. Monthly reports on Barge Canal terminal construction, 1913-1920. 2 volumes
These are volumes of monthly reports with cover letters from a deputy State engineer to the State Comptroller. The reports provide information on the construction including contract number; location of terminal; contractors; summary of work done; estimate of percentage of work done; and schedules giving total value of work under contract, done to date, done during month of report, and percentage done to date. The reports are signed by a deputy State engineer or terminal engineer.
A1264. Accounts of taxes paid on passengers of steamboats, 1817-1819. 0.3 cu. ft.
Arrangement: By steamboat.
This series consists of tax lists of steamboats Richmond, Paragon, and Chancellor Livingston generated pursuant to the 1817 law (Chapter 262) establishing the Canal Fund. Among the law's provisions was one to levy a tax of one dollar upon each steamboat passenger for each trip of over 100 miles, and fifty cents for any distance less than 100 miles and over 30 miles, the proceeds of which were to be deposited in the Canal Fund.
The tax lists do not list names of individual passengers, but provide the total number of passengers carried during a particular month; the tax was then computed on this figure. In some instances, the passenger totals are broken down into daily figures. Each account also has a sworn statement by a crew member certifying the accuracy of the list.
A0814. Register of canal boat name changes, 1817-1852. 0.1 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This series consists of entries giving name of boat as registered; hailing place; new name; new hailing place (often different from original); and date. Owners of canal boats were required to register changed names of boats with the Comptroller in accordance with legislation of 1827 (Revised Statutes, Part I, Chapter 9, Title 9, Article 7, Section 112).
A1198. Cash account of Toll Collector at Rochester, 1826. 2 volumes
Two cash books of J. Bowman, Toll Collector at Rochester, list names and amounts which are totalled daily. The cover of one book is printed and entitled "A Cyphering Book...Sold by Marshall, Spalding & Hunt, Rochester." On the cover is an engraving of a canal packet and a warehouse. The books were presumably submitted to the Comptroller along with the accounts of the collector, as required by legislation of 1826 (Chapter 360).
A1064. Reports of canal tolls received, 1826. 0.1 cu. ft.
A1057. Lists of passengers on boats on the Erie Canal, 1827-1829. 2.5 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Chronological by year.
These are lists of passengers submitted monthly by masters of boats travelling the Erie Canal. Legislation of 1829 (Revised Statutes, Part I, Chapter 9, Title 9, Article 7, Section 134) required masters of such boats to submit passenger lists for taxation purposes. Lists provide name of boat; period covered; date of travel; names of passengers; distance traveled; master's signature; and witnessed affidavits as to the accuracy of the list.
Indexes: Card index indicates names of boats in chronological and alphabetical order.
A1175. Annual statistical reports of cargoes cleared at various canal ports, 1830, 1832. 0.2 cu. ft.
Tables submitted by the canal toll collectors provide quantity (feet, pounds, barrels, etc.) of freight passing up or down during navigation session. Among commodities tabulated are lumber, timber, shingles, lime, beer, oats, wool, iron, brick, cheese, butter, flour, ashes, wheat, salt, and "sundries." This is a fragmentary series: reports are present for 1830 for Albany, West Troy, Whitehall, Utica, and Rochester, and for 1832 for West Troy, Utica, Rochester, and Buffalo. Toll collectors made statistical reports to the Comptroller pursuant to legislation of 1826 (Chapter 360).
A1178. Agreements for commutation of passenger tolls on freight boats carrying passengers, 1834. 0.1 cu. ft.
Proprietors of freight boats carrying passengers entered into an agreement with the Commissioners of the Canal Fund to pay 1.3 cents per mile for each boat operated upon the canals. Each document provides name of proprietor; name of boat line; registered name and hailing pace of each boat in the line; proprietor's signature; and date. Legislation of 1827 (Chapter 226) provided for commutation of tolls upon passengers.
A1436. Forms and instructions in relation to accounts of collectors of tolls, 1837. 0.1 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This printed booklet contains sample forms and instructions for use by collectors of tolls on the canal system and cites relevant statutes. The Comptroller was authorized to prepare forms for use in the canal system by legislation of 1829 (Revised Statutes, Part I, Chapter 9, Title 9, Article 9).
A0841. Account book for lumber business, 1837-1840. 0.1 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This volume contains miscellaneous accounts of an unidentified private firm dealing in lumber and firewood, probably at Albany. It includes accounts of sales of firewood to the steamboats "Red Jacket" and "Victory". These vessels were owned by the East Boston Timber Company, which shipped lumber along the canal. The documents in this series are among the company's records acquired by the Comptroller when the City Bank of Buffalo, in which the company had a controlling interest, went into receivership. Additional records of the East Boston Timber Company are in series A1079, Passenger List and Freight Account Book of Steamboat "Red Jacket" (see below).
A1079. Passenger list and freight account book of steamboat "Red Jacket," 1838-1839. 2 volumes
A passenger list for daily steamboat trips between Buffalo and Niagara Falls provides names; destinations; number in party; and fares paid. Accounts were kept between June 5 and September 11, 1838, and totalled at end of entries. The series also includes daily accounts of Roswell Haskell with steamboat "Red Jacket" for receipts (mostly from way bills) and disbursements, for April to November 1839; at the end are other miscellaneous accounts. Passengers were taxed in accordance with a law of 1817 (Chapter 262).
A1046. Auburn and Syracuse Rail Road waybills, 1839. 0.2 cu. ft.
Each bill provides date; time of run; name of superintendent; direction of movement (all eastbound); destination; type of freight; and railroad charges. Bills were submitted to the Comptroller in accordance with a law of 1834 (Chapter 228) incorporating the Auburn and Syracuse Rail Road Company and requiring it to pay canal tolls on freight it carried and to submit statements thereof to the Comptroller.
A1199. Form for engineers' field notes to be filed with Comptroller, 1842. 0.1 cu. ft. (1 item)
A "Form for entering field notes, quantities, etc. for a book of records to be deposited in the Comptroller's office," is dated June 25, 1842. The document provides sample field notes for natural ground and for excavations of various types, along with diagrams and formulas for computing the cubic footage of excavation. At the end are explanations of various terms and procedures referred to in the document.
A1448. Leases of toll collectors' offices, 1849-1882. 0.3 cu. ft.
Arrangement: Roughly chronological by year.
Leases before 1858 have no standard format. Starting in 1858 a standard printed form is used. The form describes the premises leased, indicates the terms of payment, and includes the signatures of the lessor and a witness. On the back of the form are the location of the office, name of collector, date of lease, and annual rent.
A1157. Toll collectors' annual accounts, 1853, 1878-1879. 0.3 cu. ft.
Annual accounts include two documents. The first is a monthly summary of debits for refunded tolls, salary of collector, pay of clerks, and deposits of tolls in designated banks; and of credits for tolls collected, clearances issued, and penalties levied. The second document provides summary totals under each debit and credit column for the Erie and branch canals. Each document includes collector's affidavit of accuracy, the year, and the location of the collector's office.
A1472. Examination of accounts of Battle Island Paper Company, 1915. 0.1 cu. ft.
This document is a report on the profitability of the Battle Island Paper Company, Fulton, prepared by an examiner from the office of the State Comptroller. The company argued before the Board of Claims that it had received inadequate compensation from the State for the appropriation of its water power rights during construction of the Barge Canal, pursuant to legislation of 1903 (Chapter 147). The examiner's report includes balance sheet dated March 12, 1914; tables showing yearly balances 1903-1914; monthly summaries of accounts for manufacture and sale of sulphate, 1902-1914; and a very detailed examination of the company's assets and liabilities and its profit/loss accounts used to determine the company's profitability. The report concludes that the concern had never been profitable and that loss of its water power made no difference in this regard. The document consists of typewritten pages numbered 25-174 plus six blueprint tables. Pages 1-24 are missing.