The Public Canals of the State are made, by the Constitution,
inalienable. They were first constructed for the purpose of facili¬
tating settlement and of opening an easy means of communication
between the Atlantic and the great lakes. The canals are under
the care of several State officers, the powers and duties of whom
are as follpws:—
The Canal Commissioners, three in number, are elected
one each year and hold office for three years. They have the imme¬
diate supervision and management of the construction and repairs
of canals, and are ex officio members of the Canal and Contracting
Boards. They have their office in the State Hall, and report annually
to the Legislature. The canals have three general divisions, each of which is under the special
charge of a commissioner.1
The State Engineer and Surveyor has general charge of the engineering department
of the canals, and is a member of the Canal and Contracting Boards. He has an office in the State
Hall, and reports annually to the Legislature.2
Tlie Canal Hoard consists of the Commissioners of the Canal Fund, the State Engineer,
and the Canal Commissioners. It meets', during the session of the Legislature, at the office of the
Canal Department, fixes the rates of toll, appoints collectors of tolls, their assistants and weigh-
masters, directs extraordinary repairs; hears appeals from the Canal Appraisers, remits penalties,
and regulates the police of the canals.3
Tlie Auditor of tlie Canal Department draws warrants on the Treasurer, for all*
canal payments, audits accounts, instructs collecting and disbursing officers, and keeps account of
canal receipts and expenditures. He is ex officio Secretary of the Commissioners of the Canal
Fund and of the Canal Board, and a member of the Contracting Board. His office, known as the
u Canal Department,” is in the State Hall at Albany.
The Canal Appraisers, three in number, are appointed one each year, and hold office for
three years. They appraise all damages arising from the canals, whether temporary or permanent
in their nature. They have an office in the State Hall.
Tlie Contracting Board consists of the State Engineer, the Auditor of the Canal Depart¬
ment, and the Canal Commissioners. It appoints all division, resident, and first assistant engineers.4
The Commissioners of tlie Canal Fund consist of the Lieutenant Governor, Secre¬
tary of State, Comptroller, Treasurer, and Attorney General. The Auditor of the Canal Department
is ex officio Secretary of the Board. They have the general management of the funds and debts of
the canal.5 ' .
First Assistant Engineers, appointed by the Contracting
Second Assistant Engineers, appointed by Resident Engineers.
The number of these assistants is regulated by the amount of
labor in progress. Revelers, surveyors, draftsmen, clerks, &c.
are employed as the Department may require, and are ap¬
pointed in the same manner as Second Assistant Engineers.
No engineer or other public officer appointed upon tlie canals,
or a clerk, foreman, or overseer of laborers, is allowed to have
an interest in the boarding of laborers, or in furnishing teams,
materials, or any other thing belonging to himself, for the use
of the public. ,
3 There are 20 collectors of tolls on the Erie, 3 on the Cham¬
plain, 3 on the Oswego, 3 on the Seneca & Cayuga, 3 on the
Chemung, 1 on the Crooked Lake, 3 on the Chenango, 5 on the
Genesee Valley, 1 on the Black River, and 1 on the Oneida Lake
Canal. There are also 41 assistant collectors. Collectors may
be removed by the Canal Commissioners or the Auditor.
4 This Board was created April 15,1854, and its powers were
enlarged and defi ned May 14,1857. Until May 1,1859, it appointed
superintendents of repairs; but since that time all repairs are
made by contract. Repairs were formerly made by laborers,
hired by the day or month, under the direction of superin¬
tendents ; but in 1857 the Contracting Board was authorized
to let the ordinary repair’s upon contract for a term of years.
6 The canal fund was derived from the following sources:—
1817-35. Auction duties, (in part,) amounting in
all tp.............!................................ $3,592,039.05
“ “ Salt duties amounting in all to............. 2,055,458.06
In 1835, these, revenues were restored to
the general fund, by a popular vote of
68,126 to 8,675.
1817-23. Steamboat passenger tax, amounting in
all to............................................. 73.509.99
The Eastern Division embraces the Erie Canal as far w. as
Oneida Lake Canal, 136 miles; Champlain Canal and Glens Falls
Feeder, 78 miles; Pond above Troy Dam, 3 miles; Black Biver
Canal and Improvement, 98 miles; making a total of 315 miles.
The Middle Division embraces the Erie Canal from the E.
bank of Oneida Lake Canal to the e. line of Wayne co., includ¬
ing feeders and reservoirs, 76 miles; Chenango Canal, 97 miles;
Oneida Lake Canal, 7 miles; Oswego Canal, 38 miles; Baldwins-
ville Side Cut, 1 mile; Oneida Biver Improvement, 20 miles;
Seneca Biver towing path, of miles; Cayuga & Seneca Canal,
23 miles; Crooked Lake Canal, 8 miles; Chemung Canal and
Feeder, 39 miles; Oneida Creek Feeder, 2 miles; Seneca Biver
Improvement, 12* miles; making a total of 331 miles.
The Western Division embraces the remainder of the Erie
Canal, 155 miles, and the Genesee Valley Canal and Dansville
Side Cut, 118 miles, making a total of 273 miles.
He prescribes the duties of engineers and assigns to them
divisions, visits and inspects all the canals at least once in each
year, and prepares plans, surveys, maps, and estimates for con¬
struction or improvement. He has other duties relating to rail¬
roads, lands belonging to the State; and other subjects are
also assigned to him from time to time.
In tbe Engineering Department are the following subordinate
Division Engineers, one to each division, are appointed by
the Contracting Board with the consent of the State Engineer.
They have special supervision of the sections of canals in their
respective divisions, and are obliged to frequently pass over the
canal; and they prepare all maps, plans, and specifications for
work to be put, under contract. They make full reports annually
to the State Engineer. The office of the Kesident Engineer of
the Eastern Division is at Albany, of the Middle Division at
Syracuse, and of the Western Division at Rochester.