200th Anniversary of the Erie Canal

By on August 4, 2017
Dave Ruch, left and CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger, right, on the banks of the Erie Canal in Spencerport.

Dave Ruch, left and CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger, right, on the banks of the Erie Canal in Spencerport.

CBS stops in Spencerport following story on Canal’s 200th anniversary

Dave Ruch, a performer and teaching artist from Buffalo was interviewed and performed for CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Richard Schlesinger at the Spencerport Depot and Canal Museum, located along the Erie Canal in the Village of Spencerport.

The performance and interview are part of a story CBS News is doing on the 200th Anniversary of the Erie Canal construction.  Dave shared his music and stories of the Erie Canal with Richard during the interview. He played his guitar, jaw harp, bones and spoons and sang “Low Bridge, Everybody Down” known by most people as “The Erie Canal Song.”

Originally written in the 20th Century by Thomas S. Allen, the song is a wistful look at the old days along the Erie Canal during 19th Century. It is not a song that was sung while the canal was being built.

The popular version of the song that most people learned over the years was changed by Sigmund Spaeth in 1926 for a printed folk song book entitled “Read ‘em and Weep.” The song originally contained five verses, but most people only learned two or three. The refrain “15 years on the Erie Canal” was changed to “15 miles on the Erie Canal.”

Dave playing spoons.

Dave playing spoons.

Dave Ruch’s extensive research into the music and life on the Erie Canal made him an excellent choice for the CBS News piece which included stops in Lockport, Spencerport, Rochester, Utica and ending in Albany.

When asked about the importance of the Erie Canal today, Dave said, “It opened up America and settled the West. The ingenuity and hard work of the people at that time was incredible, what they did and how they did it enabled people to settle along the canal, allowing communities to develop, grow and prosper. It is important to share the history of this country with future generations.”CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Richard Schlesinger.

Dave’s work on the music and history of the Erie Canal enables him to connect with people in a unique way with his songs and stories.

View the CBS Sunday Morning story here


Photos by Karen Fien