Section of Construction
At the onset of building the Erie Canal, the commissioner decided to restrict the initial construction to a middle section from Utica to Rome (a section of about 93 miles). Their decision was based on politics. The commission acted very confident about the construction in public, but they still had their doubts. They felt that since the project was so large and that the men doing it had so little experience, it would be wise to undertake a portion of the project first. The commission also felt that public opinion could grow in favor of the Erie Canal. They felt that partial construction would enable the public to (in their words) "bring solidarity of their opinions to the touchstone of experiment before the whole system is undertaken". This decision turned out to be a good one. The middle section became a training ground for the ex-lawyers and others who soon became the first engineers in the United States. Their learning in this middle section enabled them to later make great engineering breakthroughs in the eastern and western parts of the canal.