Canal Celebration in Little Falls, NY. Marina at Little Falls, New York - A Great Place to Visit

30th Annual Canal Celebration - August 7 - 13, 2017


Celebrate New York's Canal Heritage in Little Falls!

Mark your calendar! YOU are invited to come and enjoy the Annual Canal Celebration, a week-long street-festival in the scenic city of Little Falls, New York! Now in its 30th year, the Canal Celebration is a fun, family-oriented summer celebration brought to you by the businesses and not-for-profit agencies serving Little Falls, New York. Our fun and mostly FREE events have drawn tens of thousands of visitors from throughout the Mohawk Valley to celebrate the heritage of the waterways that have defined our quaint, scenic city located on the Erie Canal.

Explore Little Falls!

Little Falls is a wonderful place to live, play and shop! To learn more about the exciting recreational, cultural and heritage tourism opportunities in our fine city, visit the ExploreLittleFalls.com website. For more information on shopping and dining in Little Falls, be sure to visit the ShopLittleFallsNY.com website as well.

Visit Little Falls, your year-round headquarters for BIG FUN!


Canal Days in Little Falls, New York - A Great Place to Visit

Fun Events for ALL Ages!

The 30th Annual Canal Celebration begins Monday, August 7th, and culminates on Sunday, August 13th. With dozens of fun, mostly FREE events in a family-friendly environment, the Canal Celebration is the perfect way to enjoy a splendid summer in Upstate New York! We invite YOU to join us for a wonderful week packed with great events like:

  • An epic parade with over two miles of bands, floats, fire-trucks, antique cars and tractors!
  • A community picnic with food vendors, a great band, and fireworks!
  • Exciting carnival rides and midway games, food court, and vendors!
  • A bustling Country Craft Fair with something fun for everyone in Eastern Park!
  • An awesome craft fair and flea market by woman-only vendors in Canal Place!
  • An amazing Antique and Classic Car Show!
  • A challenging 10K Road Race, and also a 2 mile run, a 2 mile walk, and a kids fun run!
  • Historical walking tours and special exhibits at the Little Falls Historical Museum!
  • A Golf Tournament organized by Little Falls Rotary to benefit local charities!
  • Fishing Derbies for youth, big kids and adults!
  • And many more fun, mostly FREE events!
Community Picnic at Canal Days in Little Falls, New York - A Great Place to Visit
Explore scenic and historic Little Falls, NY

The Little Falls Story - River Rapids and Canals

The friendly and scenic city of Little Falls is a cultural gem that was hewn from the rapids of the Mohawk River. Simply put, Little Falls would not exist if it were not for the guiding influence of the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal. At the end of the last ice age, the meltwaters of the Glacial Lake Iroquois cumulated into a collosal waterfall - located near today's Moss Island - that sculpted the geography of Little Falls and much of the Mohawk Valley. Thousands of years later, the resulting rapids - which descends 40 feet - presented an uphill battle for early European explorers, settlers, and river boats, and in the eighteenth century, a thriving community was built around the need to portage these boats and their cargos around the rapids of the Mohawk River. After the revolutionary war, Little Falls continued to grow as it became the home of several important locks on the series of canals, including the Erie Canal, that tamed the Mohawk and connected the Eastern seaboard to Western New York and other landlocked states. Today, Little Falls remains the home to both the tallest operating lock on the New York State Canal System - Lock 17 - as well as the ruin of the oldest extant lock in the United States (1795).

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the waters of the Mohawk River continued to give life to the economy of Little Falls by powering the textile mills that sprang up along its banks during the Industrial Revolution. Thousands upon thousands of immigrants arrived to work in the mills, and gave Little Falls a unique character as a culturally and ethnically diverse place. In 1912, the mill-working women of Little Falls attracted national attention and played a major role in the US Labor movement when they went on a strike that lasted for three months. The strike, organized by socialist nurse Helen Schloss, and the resulting newspaper stories depicting mounted policeman battling strikers throughout the city brought trainloads of prominent IWW organizers, anarchists, and Schenectady Socialists who came to support the mill workers. While the strike was eventually successful - ultimately being mediated by the State of New York, the resulting exodus of the textile industry to the southern states made the mill worker's victory more nominal than real.

Today nearly all of the mills are gone, and the population of Little Falls has diminished to a third of the size that it once was. But the economy and culture of Little Falls remains closely linked to the waters of the Mohawk River. Local industrial facilities, such as Burrows Paper and Redco Foods, continue to harness the Mohawk River, the Little Falls Marina and and nearby Rotary Park continue to serve as a gathering place for the community and as a portal between through which boaters can access little falls, seeking amenities as well as access to the plethora of art, culture, dining, and fun civic festivals that take place throughout the season. Little Falls houses a bustling art communitiy centered around Canal Place featuring a regional art center, galleries, shops, and some of the finest antiquing in Upstate New York. Main Street in Little Falls offers modern shopping opportunities and is the gateway to the sprawling Little Falls National Historic District, which encompasses nearly 350 historically significant buildings that preserve the heritage and the vibrant way of life that the Mohawk River and Erie Canal made possible in Little Falls.

Canoe and kayak on the Mohawk River in Little Falls, NY.
Explore Lock 17 in Historic Little Falls, NY

Explore the Tallest Lock in New York

Lock 17 on the New York State Canal System is the largest lock in New York and one of the largest locks in the entire world. The lock bypasses the Mohawk River's unnavigable whitewater rapids by lifting boats an astounding 40.5 feet. Before Lock 17 was constructed in 1912, four separate locks - spanning a distance of three miles! - were required to circumvent the Little Falls rapids. Lock 17 was able to succeed its four predecessors owing to its unique - and frankly genius design - which includes a 150 ton guillotine style lower gate and a concrete arch under which the boats must pass; this is the only implementation of such a design along the entire New York State Canal system.

In the immediate vicinity of Lock 17, you can also view the remains of the old Erie Canal Lock 36. Although the southern chamber of Lock 36 is all that remains of this once long lock, walking through the now high-and-dry ruins provides an interesting glimpse into the technologies and masonry skills that made the Erie Canal possible.

Explore Lock 36 in Historic Little Falls, NY
Ruins of the 1795 Western Inland Canal in Little Falls, NY

The Oldest Extant Canal Relics in America

Following the Revolutionary War, both politicians and businessmen realized the importance of making the Mohawk River more navigable, both to facilitate routes of commerce and to secure the military supply lines spanning between the Eastern seaboard and the Great Lakes region. In order to end the need to portage boats around the rapids, New York State awarded the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company a charter for the construction of a canal. The construction process, however, was plagued by financial difficulties, several bad engineering decisions and a certain measure of political cronyism. After four years of construction, a short canal of three-quarters of a mile long and twelve feet wide, and consisting of five locks that together hoisted boats nearly 45 vertical feet, allowed boaters to circumvent the rapids at Little Falls.

The Western Inland Canal remained in use for nearly thirty years, before the it was rendered obsolete by the construction of the original Erie Canal. The original wooden locks, which eventually began to rot, were replaced by stone structures - built from Little Falls stone - in 1802 and 1803. Today, all that remains of this canal is a singular fragment of a guard lock, and its iron mechanisms, making it the oldest extant bit of canal lock in the United States.

Remains of the 1795 Canal in Little Falls, NY

When the Erie Canal was opened, an aqueduct was constructed to carry boat traffic from the canal across the Mohawk River and into the Little Falls harbor, which connected to the Western Inland Canal. Remains of the aqueduct, which finally collapsed in the flood of 1993, may still be seen near Benton's Landing at Canal Place.

Remains of the Aqueduct in Little Falls, NY

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