The canal was built in the 19th century and is now part of the larger New York State Barge Canal. When constructed, the canal dramatically cut transport costs in its region. Today, it is primarily used by recreation craft.
Canallers, Don, are the boatmen belonging to our grand Erie Canal.
Herman Melville -- Moby Dick
If in some cases a bit of a nautical Murat in setting forth his person ashore, the Handsome Sailor of the period in question evinced nothing of the dandified Billy-be-Damn, an amusing character all but extinct now, but occasionally to be encountered, and in a form yet more amusing than the original, at the tiller of the boats on the tempestuous Erie Canal or, more likely, vaporing in the groggeries along the tow-path.
Herman Melville -- Billy Budd
Furthermore, as his windpipe solely opens into the tube of his spouting canal, and as that long canal—like the grand Erie Canal—is furnished with a sort of locks (that open and shut) for the downward retention of air or the upward exclusion of water, therefore the whale has no voice; unless you insult him by saying, that when he so strangely rumbles, he talks through his nose.