Oswego Canal Cruising Guide

The Oswego Canal is the third longest canal section in the New York State Canal System. Beginning at Three Rivers Junction near Liverpool, NY where it branches off the Erie Canal, the Oswego Canal runs in a northerly direction following the Oswego River passing through the towns of Phoenix and Fulton, NY until it finally empties into Lake Ontario at Oswego, NY.

When the original Erie Canal was built, it bypassed Lake Ontario in an effort to concentrate on establishing a trade route to the upper Great Lakes by the easiest route available at the time while avoiding the Niagara Escarpment. It was soon realized that a canal to Lake Ontario was needed to aid in commerce between Northern New York and Canada, so construction on the Oswego Canal was started in 1825 and lasted 4 years. The canal opened in the spring of 1829.

Navigation Season

The navigation season for the Oswego Canal is the same as for the rest of the New York State Canal System: early May through November from 0700 to 2200 daily. However, prior to Memorial Day and after Labor Day these hours are typically restricted to 0700 to 1700 daily.


From Three Rivers Junction it is 23.9 SM (20.8 NM / 38.5 KM) to the open waters of Lake Ontario.

Aids to Navigation

When transiting the Oswego Canal, red markers are kept to starboard from Three Rivers Junction north until reaching Lock O8. From that point, red markers are kept to your port side until reaching Lake Ontario.

NOAA Chart #14786, provides coverage of the Oswego Canal system. The individual charts can be viewed below:

Oswego Canal - Three Rivers Junction to Lake Ontario
14786-O6 14786-O3
14786-O5 14786-O2
14786-O4 14786-O1

You may view each respective chart by clicking on the "Chart #." The chart will open in a new window.


There are 7 locks located on the Oswego Canal.

Lock O1 Lock O2 Lock O3
Lock O5 Lock O6 Lock O7
Lock O8  

NOTE: There is no Lock O4 on the Oswego Canal.

A complete listing of the Oswego Canal Locks with distances, lifts, and estimated transit times can be viewed at the Oswego Canal Lock & Transit Page. Available for download.

Channel Depths

From Three Rivers Junction to Oswego, NY project channel depths are 14 feet with 14 feet over the lock sills.

Bridge Clearances

At normal pool level, minimum bridge clearance is 21 feet 1.8 inches at bridge O-13 and O-13A. At maximum pool level, minimum bridge clearance is 20 feet 0 inches at O-7A and O-10.

For a complete listing of Oswego Canal bridges and other crossings along with their clearances, visit the Oswego Canal Bridge Clearances Page. These tables are available for download.


All lockmasters maintain a watch on VHF channel 13.

Speed Limits

Except in the vicinity of the locks or as otherwise posted, the speed limits vary along the route of the Oswego Canal and range between 5 mph (4.3 knots) and 10 mph (8.7 knots.)

Except in the vicinity of the locks or as otherwise posted.

Transit Times

If you and your vessel are capable of traveling at the posted speed limits, the Oswego Canal could be transited in as little as 5 hours. As a general guide however, most low speed vessels should figure on requiring about 7 to 8 hours to make the passage from Three Rivers Junction to Lake Ontario.

Distances between major points along the Oswego Canal can be found on our Oswego Canal - Distances Page. The distances table shown is useful in planning your transit through the canal.

New York State Canal Menu

Introduction to the NYSCS

Federal Lock at Troy, NY

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