For many years, the Erie Canal Village outside Rome, New York was a beloved tourist attraction and educational activity. A recreation of a mid-19th century village, it was built in the 1970s to evoke the Golden Age of canal travel, before the railroads, when America’s inland waterways were at the height of their importance.
Over the last several years, the assemblage of historic buildings has slowly fallen into disrepair, eventually closing down for good. Today it sits dilapidated and abandoned, its historic buildings showing their age.
While the village’s historic buildings have mostly been transported to the site from elsewhere in the state, the geographic site itself is also historic: It’s the spot where, in 1817, the first shovel of dirt was turned to dig the Erie Canal, which at that point was often referred to sarcastically as “Clinton’s Ditch” after New York governor DeWitt Clinton. The canal went on to become an early gateway to the West for settlers and a major transportation route for furs, lumber, and other regional products.
The importance of the canal was commemorated at the Erie Canal Village, which once featured a mule-drawn packet boat, a narrow-gauge railroad, a museum, and a host of historic buildings including a church, a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, and a number of homes. A wooden bridge was built over the canal as an entrance to the village. Today, this bridge sits overgrown with weeds and chained off to prevent trespassing. But all of the historic buildings remain languishing just beyond it.
Know Before You Go
The abandoned village is not open to the public. There is a bridge entrance that is chained off.