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HRVH Primary Sources for Educators: D and H Canal

About the Lesson Plan

Author: Jennifer Farmer

Subjects: Social Studies

Grades: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th

NY State Standards:

Destination: D&H Canal Historical Society and Musuem

23 Mohonk Rd.

High Falls, NY 12440





  • Postcard - Loading Canal Boats [Link]



Related Links


D and H Canal

Essential Question(s) How have waterways in the Hudson Valley been used?

Content Understanding(s) Students will learn what a canal is and how they were used to transport goods.

Concept Understanding(s) Students will use observation to make inferences.


  • canal
  • transportation
  • lock

Suggested Time Frame(s): One 45 minute class


Background Knowledge

The Delaware and Hudson Canal was built to transport anthracite coal from Pennsylvania to the Hudson River in Kingston. From Kingston the coal could be shipped to New York City. Eventually the D & H Canal was used to transport local lumber, agricultural products, and bluestone.

The Delaware & Hudson Canal operated from 1828-1898. It was 108 miles long and had 108 locks.


What do you notice first?

What do you notice that you can’t explain?

Find something small but interesting.


Why do you think somebody made this postcard?

What do you think is happening?

What might you hear if you were standing on the bridge? What might you smell?

What does this tell you about life in a canal town?


What do you wonder about?

Further Investigations

How is this a limited means for transportation?

Supplies Used

  • Postcards of the D and H Canal in Rosendale
  • Postcard- Loading Canal Boats at the loch
  • Map- Map of Rosendale with an inset of Creek Locks
  • Rosedale Primary Document Worksheet (found in the worksheet & attachment section)

What Should Students Know At The End of This Lesson Students should know that the canals were used locally to transport coal, agricultural products, lumber, and bluestone to New York City. Students should also know that towns in the Hudson Valley built up around these locks.

How do you assess student learning? Students will complete worksheet and participate in class discussion.

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065