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Erie Canal bicentennial events planned for Lockport and beyond

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W. Roberts, from Marco Paul's Voyages & Travels, Erie Canal by Jacob Abbott, 1852
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New York State is planning to commemorate this year's 200th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the Erie Canal with a series of major events along the waterway.

The state Canal Corp. announced Thursday that it will host three premier events: in Lockport, near the waterway's western end; in Waterford, at the canal's eastern terminus; and Rome in central New York, where construction began on July 4, 1817.

The yearlong celebration kicks off May 19 in Waterford, near Albany. The next big event is July 8 at Lockport's set of locks known as the Flight of Five. The third major event is scheduled for July 22 in Rome, where the "first dig" will be re-enacted. Other events are scheduled into September.

The 1825 opening of the canal connecting Lake Erie to the Hudson River spurred the nation's westward expansion.