What is a Canal? A canal is an artificial waterway for navigation. From the Library of Congress, American Memory
Why Build Canals? Water is one of the cheapest ways to transport goods.
Why Build Canals? Road A wagon could carry 1 ton for 12 miles in one day. Cost 20 cents to carry 1 ton one mile. Railroad A train could carry 500 tons for 200 miles in one day. Cost 5 cents to carry 1 ton one mile. Canal A canal boat could carry 100 tons for 30 miles in one day. Cost 5 cents to carry 1 ton one mile. Transport Options, Early 1800’s From Martland, Carl D. ”Example of the Ability of Civil Engineering Projects to Shape Cities and Channel Development:Roads, Canals, and Railroads in the Early 19th Century” MIT, Spring 2005 http://ocw.mit.edu/NR/rdonlyres/Civil-and-Environmental-Engineering/1-011Spring-2005/5B684A1B-4A5A-4419-AB9C-6347D6CD1AD4/0/p_eval04_l2_19cn.pdf
Why Build Canals? Water is one of the cheapest ways to transport goods. BUT - you need the waterway! High volume of goods so long as speed is not a great factor Boats were pulled by horses. Food can be delivered to cities Cities can become trade centers
Section I: History & BackgroundHistory & Background
Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo, 1817-1825 First proposed in 1724; discussed widely in late 1700s and early 1800s Thomas Jefferson: "A splendid project - for the 20th century.“ Why did they need a canal?
History & Background Erie Canal, 1817-1825 Easiest way to cross Appalachian Mountains
History & Background Erie Canal 363 miles from Albany to Buffalo (cost $8 million to build) Click below to see map. Click to see map
History & Background The Erie Canal was hand-dug to connect the Hudson River with the Niagara River. The 363-mile canal had to overcome the 571-foot difference in elevation between the rivers. Problem: How could you make the canal go uphill?
History & Background You used locks to allow boats to overcome the change in elevation..
History & Background The opening of the last lock on the canal was celebrated on October 26, 1825 with a grand procession. From the Library of Congress, American Memory
History & Background With growing competition from railroads and highways, and the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, commercial traffic on the Canal System declined dramatically in the latter part of the 20th century.