From Albany to Buffalo, and from 1825 into the 21st Century, the Erie Canal has made American history. Tom Grasso, President of the NY State Canal Society, takes us on a tour of the Canal, past and present, in this film. Before the railroads spanned the continent, waterways were the best way to travel. At Fort Edward on the upper Hudson, and at Whitehall, the southernmost end of Lake Champlain, Tom explains the crucial role of waterways in developing the American continent. A quick map lesson graphically clarifies the importance of the Mohawk river valley, the only water route through the coastal mountains between Canada and Alabama. Overlooking the "Noses" of the Mohawk, we can see for ourselves why the Erie Canal became the Gateway to the West, and so made New York the Empire State. With Tom, we visit the Ft. Hunter guard lock on the Original Erie, then the Cohoes, Macedon, and Yankee Hill locks and the Schoharie Creek aqueduct on the Enlarged Erie. As Ted Curtis pilots the Sam Patch tour barge, Pete Seeger sings "15 Miles on the Erie Canal". Musician George Ward accompanies Peter Spier's delightful drawings of life on the Enlarged Erie, and we see the only mule-drawn barge on the system, Miss Apple Grove. Starting with the magnificent Lock 17 at Little Falls, Tom visits tug boats and tour boats along the Barge Canal - the third enlargement of the Canal, completed in 1918. With Peter Wiles on his 1920's yacht Trident, and with Dan Wiles on the Emita II tour boat, Tom tours the Great Embankment and Lockport. As we explore the beauty and history of this great artificial river, we share a vision of its rebirth as a timeless attraction for visitors from around the world.