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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (G)
Geddes, James


(1763-1838) Scottish chief engineer of the Erie Canal. He was surveyor of canal routes in New York State and was the chief engineer on construction of the Erie Canal (1816), and chief engineer of the Champlain Canal (1818). "In all matters relating to the layout, designing and construction of canals, he was looked upon as one of the highest authorities in the country."

"Mr. James Geddes, one of the principal engineers of the Erie Canal, has on a former occasion thus expressed himself: ‘canals between the Hudson and northern Wood Creek, and between the Mohawk and western Wood Creek, must have been contemplated by the first navigators of these waters, things so obvious must have early struck every one, but the idea of the Erie Canal is of very modern origin. In the winter of 1804, I learnt for the first time, from the surveyor general, that Mr. Gouverneur Morris in a conversation between them in the preceding autumn, mentioned the scheme of a canal from Lake Erie across the country to the Hudson River. The idea of saving so much lockage by not descending into Lake Ontario, made a lively impression on my mind, by which I was prompted on every occasion to inquire into the practicability of the project, and entered with enthusiasm on the task assigned by the surveyor general in 1808, of expending the small sum of six hundred dollars, then granted by our legislature for making levels, &c.’

Some interesting information on the building of the canal can be found here!


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