Until the advent of the railways, the Erie Canal, which runs for 363 miles between Albany and Buffalo, was the main means for transporting goods between the Atlantic coast via the Hudson to the Great Lakes. These days it is used more for pleasure trips, providing boaters with the opportunity to get to grips with some of its 36 locks. The section of the river around Rochester retains the most character in this sense. The fertile farming country on either side comprises the agricultural heartland of New York State. The eastern parts, also known as Central Leatherstocking after the protective leggings worn by the area’s first settlers, are well off the conventional tourist trails, with the exception of the lovely village of Cooperstown. Meanwhile, the industrial college town of Syracuse only merits a visit for the Erie Canal Museum (eriecanalmuseum.org), housed in an1850s weighing station at 318 E Erie Blvd.

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