The Erie Canal, which snakes its way all the way from the Capital District to the Great Lakes, was one of America's earliest engineering achievements.  It opened up the Midwest to the port of New York City via the cities of Albany Syracuse and Buffalo.  And along the way, as the canal grew and prospered, dozens of small canal towns sprang up along the waterway.

Here is a list of 12 you should take time to visit.  Each in a different way, tells its history as a prosperous Erie Canal town.  And what a history it is.  Some are along the Mohawk River, which leads into the canal.  Others were successful communities which popped up as the canal stretched westward.

In this list you will meet "the second smallest city in New York," and "The Peppermint Village."   You will see the largest lock ever built on the canal, and you will hear the story of the famous "Five Stair Step Lock" in Lockport.  All are fascinating.  You will also find on this list historic sites, small museums, and a whole host of interest Erie Canal town factoids.

Along the way you will also see remnants of the original canal, from machinery, to lock walls, to industrial footprints where the locks were, to the original paths where mules (named Sal?) pulled the boats along their slow way to the end of the canal.  And of course today's Barge Canal is busy with pleasure boats, kayakers, tour boats and more.

New Yorkers should embrace the history of this amazing waterway, and there is no better way to do that than to stop by Clyde, Lockport, Waterford,  Brockport, Fairport or any of the other towns and villages on this list.

And remember...."Low bridge, everybody down!"

Don't Miss These 12 Fascinating Erie Canal Towns!