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The Hamburg Canal

Including the Clark-Skinner Canal and Ohio Slip
1874 Waterways overlaid on 2007 Satellite Map


The Hamburg Canal, originally called the Main-Hamburg Canal, had it's beginnings as early as 1833 when the City of Buffalo began planning for the waterway.  It's official start was on March 27, 1838 when the state of New York approved its constructon to help relieve congestion along the Erie Canal.  The state had authority over the canal system and the city had to have their approval before work could commence. 

In June 1848, the construction of the Main and Hamburg canal was put under contract to be completed in August, 1849. But an epidemic of cholera in July, 1849 prompted the board of health of Buffalo, deeming the existence of the freshly opened canal ditch a menace to public health and likely to increase the virulence of the plague, ordered further operations suspended and the trench to be flooded. On November 2 work resumed to be finished in June, 1850. By the close of 1849 the canal had been excavated as far as Michigan street, about one-third of the distance. It was finished in 1851 but too late to be of service that year, being filled and brought into use at the opening of the season of navigation in the spring of 1852.

As early as 1855 and during it's entire life the canal was plagued with problems, due to lack of sufficient flow to clear out the pollutants and sewage that drained into it.  Thousands were spent in failed efforts to clean up the canal, and finally it was ordered closed and filled in 1898 when the state authorized the city to fill it. In 1899 an act (chapter 678) empowered Buffalo to sell this canal, and another (chapter 679) authorized the city to raise $550,000 for the purpose of filling the channel and abating the nuisance.1  In 1903 the City of Buffalo sold the canal to Boston representatives of the Wabash Railroad for $901,000. 

The more detailed story of the Hamburg, Clark-Skinner, and Ohio Basin and Slip may be found here.


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Graphics By George Thomas Apfel

2007 Satellite view from Google Maps

Reference:  1874 Hopkins Atlas of Buffalo