The route began as a Native American trade route. The route was carved as a natural path from the Hudson Valley along the Mohawk River to the Great Lakes. By 1770 it reached from Albany to Buffalo. When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, people were able to move into the upper Northwest Territory. The Canal had the ability to raise boats from the level of the Hudson River to Lake Erie. Today it is part of the New York Thruway (1-90).