The recent adoption of the constitutional amendment abolishing tolls on the canals of New York State has revived interest in these water ways. The overwhelming majority by which the measure was passed shows, says the Glassware Reporter, that the people are willing to bear the cost of their management by defraying from the public treasury all expenses incident to their operation. That the abolition of the toll system will be a great gain to the State seems to be admitted by nearly everybody, and the measure met with but little opposition except from the railroad corporations and their supporters.

At as early a date as the close of the Revolutionary War, Mr. Morris had suggested the union of the great lakes with the Hudson River, and in 1812 he again advocated it. De Witt Clinton, of New York, one of the most, valuable men of his day, took up the idea, and brought the leading men of his State to lend him their support in pushing it. To dig a canal all the way from Albany to Lake Erie was a pretty formidable undertaking; the State of New York accordingly invited the Federal government to assist in the enterprise.

The canal was as desirable on national grounds as on any other, but the proposition met with a rebuff, and the Empire State then resolved to build the canal herself. Surveyors were sent out to locate a line for it, and on July 4, 1817, ground was broken for the canal by De Witt Clinton, who was then Governor of the State.

The main line, from Albany, on the Hudson, to Buffalo, on Lake Erie, measures 363 miles in length, and cost $7,143,789. The Champlain, Oswego, Chemung, Cayuga, and Crooked Lake canals, and some others, join the main line, and, including these branch lines, it measures 543 miles in length, and cost upward of $11,500,000. This canal was originally 40 feet in breadth at the water line, 28 feet at the bottom, and 4 feet in depth. Its dimensions proved too small for the extensive trade which it had to support, and the depth of water was increased to 7 feet, and the extreme breadth of the canal to 60 feet. There are 84 locks on the main line. These locks, originally 90 feet in length and 15 in breadth, and with an average lift of 8 feet 2 inches, have since been much enlarged. The total rise and fall is 692 feet. The towpath is elevated 4 feet above the level of the water, and is 10 feet in breadth. At Lockport the canal descends 60 feet by means of 5 locks excavated in solid rock, and afterward proceeds on a uniform level for a distance of 63 miles to the Genesee River, over which it is carried on an aqueduct having 9 arches of 50 feet span each. Eight and a half miles from this point it passes over the Cayuga marsh, on an embankment 2 miles in length, and in some places 70 feet in height.

At Syracuse, the "long level" commences, which extends for a distance of 69½ miles to Frankfort, without an intervening lock. After leaving Frankfort, the canal crosses the river Mohawk, first by an aqueduct 748 feet in length, supported on 16 piers, elevated 25 feet above the surface of the river, and afterward by another aqueduct 1,188 feet in length, and emerges into the Hudson at Albany.

This great work was finished in 1825, and its completion was the occasion of great public rejoicing. The same year that the Erie Canal was begun, ground was broken for a canal from Lake Champlain to the Hudson, sixty-three miles in length. This work was completed in 1823.

The construction of these two water ways was attended with the most interesting consequences. Even before they were completed their value had become clearly apparent. Boats were placed upon the Erie Canal as fast as the different levels were ready for use, and set to work in active transportation. They were small affairs compared with those of the present day, being about 50 or 60 tons burden, the modern canal boat being 180 or 200 tons. Small as they were, they reduced the cost of transportation immediately to one-tenth what it had been before. A ton of freight by land from Buffalo to Albany cost at that time $100. When the canal was open its entire length, the cost of freight fell from fifteen to twenty-five dollars a ton, according to the class of article carried; and the time of transit from 20 to 8 days, Wheat at that time was worth only $33 a ton in western New York, and it did not pay to send it by land to New York. When sent to market at all, it was floated down the Susquehanna to Baltimore, as being the cheapest and best market. The canal changed that. It now became possible to send to market a wide variety of agricultural produce--fruit, grain, vegetables, etc.--which, before the canal was built, either had no value at all, or which could be disposed of to no good advantage.

It is claimed by the original promoters of the Erie Canal, who lived to see its beneficial effects experienced by the people of the country, that their work, costing less than $8.000,000 and paying its whole cost of construction in a very few years, added $100,000,000 to the value of the farms of New York by opening up good and ready markets for their products. The canal had another result. It made New York city the commercial metropolis of the country. An old letter, written by a resident of Newport, R. I., in that age, has lately been discovered, which speaks of New York city, and says: "If we do not look out, New York will get ahead of us." Newport was then one of the principal seaports of the country; it had once been the first. New York city certainly did "get ahead of us" after the Erie Canal was built. It got ahead of every other commercial city on the coast. Freight, which had previously gone overland from Ohio and the West to Pittsburg, and thence to Philadelphia, costing $120 a ton between the two cities named, now went to New York by way of the Hudson River and the Erie Canal and the lakes. Manufactures and groceries returned to the West by the same route, and New York became a flourishing and growing emporium immediately.

The Erie Canal was enlarged in 1835, so as to permit the passage of boats of 100 tons burden, and the result was a still further reduction of the cost of freighting, expansion of traffic, and an increase of the general benefits conferred by the canal. The Champlain Canal had an effect upon the farms and towns lying along Lake Champlain, in Vermont and New York, kindred in character to that above described in respect to the Erie Canal. It brought into the market lands and produce which before had been worthless, and was a great blessing to all concerned.

There can be no doubt that the building of the Erie Canal was the wisest and most far-seeing enterprise of the age. It has left a permanent and indelible mark upon the face of the republic of the United States in the great communities it has directly assisted to build up at the West, and in the populous metropolis it created at the mouth of the Hudson River. None of the canals which have been built to compete with it have yet succeeded in regaining for their States what was lost to them when the Erie Canal went into operation. This water route is still the most important artificial one of its class in the country, and is only equaled by the Welland Canal in Canada, which is its closest rival. Now that it is free, it will retain its position as the most popular water route to the sea from the great West. The Mississippi River will divert from it all the trade flowing to South America and Mexico; but for the northwest it will be the chief water highway to the ocean.