Plantation Island and the German Flatts Canal of 1798


An old Erie Canal lockIn addition to preserving substantial surface and archeological remains of the 1798 German Flatts Canal, this artifical island of state-owned property provides dramatic and historic remains of the later Erie Canal.

The remains of Erie Canal Lock 41, and the associated trough running eastward from that lock, representing the terminal phase of the old canal circa 1890, present one of the most interesting features of the island. Even though partially buried by dredging fill material in the mid-20th century, these ruins still provide a dramatic visual experience.

An identical canal lock, circa 1890In its day, the area at Lock 41 might have looked just like this late 19th century view of an identical lock elsewhere on the Erie Canal. For field views of the surviving visible features of Lock 41, follow the image link below.

Field views of the remains of Erie Canal Lock 41.

The canal in 1921Through the use of documentary research, we were able to accurately reconstruct the sequence of building at Lock 41, which resulted in the structure now seen on the island. To view some of the historic maps used in this study, follow the link below.

A summary of historic maps of Lock 41.

The canal bed east of Lock 41In addition to the dramatic ruins of Lock 41, there are many well preserved canal features east of that site. For a field tour of some of these in the western end of Plantation Island, follow the links below.

The Erie Canal bed east of Lock 41 (including 1st bridge).

The Erie Canal bed east of 1st bridge (including 2nd bridge).

Maps of the 2nd Erie Canal bridge (1830-1870).

The junction of the two canals
A Point of Departure

The view above, left, was taken in 1982 at the exact point where the surviving 1798 German Flatts Canal diverges from the Erie Canal. While there are virtually no surface clues that this earlier canal runs eastward from this point, if you have a map of the original alignment of the Erie Canal and know to look for the alignment of the German Flatts canal at the elbow of the Erie, you will locate it within a few hundred yards of this point.

It represents an opportunity to enjoy and discover history within a landscape preserved by the State of New York for over 200 years.

Today there are several organizations and numerous people focused on making Plantation Island a heritage area with enhanced public access and cultural site interpretation. If you have found this subject of interest, perhaps you will join us in that effort?


German Flatts Canal Start
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