19th century: 3,000-mile Intracoastal Waterway

KorbenDallas

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The Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000-mile (4,800 km) inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States, running from Boston, Massachusetts, southward along the Atlantic Seaboard and around the southern tip of Florida, then following the Gulf Coast to Brownsville, Texas.

And it just goes along the entire East Coast of the US...
waterway.jpg

Some sections of the waterway consist of natural inlets, saltwater rivers, bays, and sounds, while others are artificial canals. It provides a navigable route along its length without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea.
Intracoastal_Waterway.jpg

So there we have it. The thing runs from Boston to Miami. Allegedly, we built most of this stuff.
  • The sheltered waters along the East Coast were important even during colonial times. In 1808, the Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin proposed creating a system of canals that would link Boston Harbor in Massachusetts with Brownsville Harbor in Texas.
  • Exploring the Intracoastal Waterway
Consists of many connecting parts this waterway. But how about that?

The Chesapeake & Delaware Canal
Being a part of the Intracoastal Waterway... The Chesapeake & Delaware Canal (C&D Canal) is a 14-mile (22.5 km)-long, 450-foot (137.2 m)-wide and 35-foot (10.7 m)-deep ship canal that connects the Delaware River with the Chesapeake Bay in the states of Delaware and Maryland.
  • Baltimore to Philadelphia, Maryland to Pennsylvania, United States. Completed 1829.
  • In the mid‑17th century, Augustine Herman, a mapmaker and Prague native who had served as an envoy for the Dutch, observed that two great bodies of water, the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay, were separated only by a narrow strip of land. Herman proposed that a waterway be built to connect the two.
  • In 1802, following actions by the legislatures of Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Company was incorporated, with merchant and banker Joseph Tatnall as president. More surveys followed, and in 1804, construction of the canal began under Benjamin Latrobe. The work included 14 locks to connect the Christina River in Delaware with the Elk River at Welch Point, Maryland, but the project was halted two years later for lack of funds.
  • Chesapeake & Delaware Canal - Wikipedia
Chesapeake_and_Delaware_Canal_eastern_entrance.jpg


Dismal Swamp Canal
The Dismal Swamp Canal is located along the eastern edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and North Carolina in the United States. It is the oldest continually operating man-made canal in the United States, opened in 1805. It is part of the Intracoastal Waterway, an inland route, which parallels the east coast and offers boaters shelter from the Atlantic Ocean from Manasquan Inlet, New Jersey, to Brownsville, Texas. The route runs through bays, lakes, rivers, streams, and canals, and includes the Intracoastal Waterway running from Norfolk, Virginia, to the Florida Keys.
Great_Dismal_Swamp_Canal.jpg

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KD: Isn't it interesting how they were allegedly building these canals 220 years ago like it was nothing. A 3,000 mile waterway I have never heard about due to my ignorance. Yet, how many questions does this waterway pose?
  • Who, in 1805 needed the protection from the Atlantic Ocean spanning from New Jersey, and Boston to Texas and Florida?
  • Who really built all this stuff?
Interesting, that digging further into it we run into the Great Loop. And what is it?

The Great Loop
The Great Loop is a system of waterways that encompasses the eastern portion of the United States and part of Canada. It is made up of both natural and man-made waterways, including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Rideau Canal, and the Mississippi and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The entire loop is approximately 6,000 miles (9,700 km) long.
great-loop.jpg
 

space966

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In these old books about star forts in Latin, old French is mentioned canals, that they're important to build and they were built. Seems all over the world. And seems by some supernatural force.
 

jd755

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Using Gibiru uncensored I found this from 2014; THE COMMERCIAL MARITIME SECTOR IS VULNERABLE TO CYBER ATTACK

The U.S. built the Intracoastal Waterways to provide tank barge transport of critical military fuels on a route too shallow for submarines.

Could find no evidence of this claim but did find this 89 page pdf History of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from 1983 https://www.publications.usace.army.mil/Portals/76/Publications/Miscellaneous/NWS_83-9.pdf

I find pdf's a pain to copy and paste from so if anyone else fancies a bash be my guest.

Moving to startpage image search I found this article from 2006. For some 'security reason' I had to use a US proxy to read it; Intracoastal Canal finally arrives locally in the 1920s

"Work to construct the Intercoastal Canal link between the Atchafalaya River and the Bayou Terrebonne extending over a period of nearly 30 years, has resulted in active operations being started at last," the front page story in the weekly Houma Times for Feb. 28, 1920, announced the first real activity toward the long-awaited local beginning of a government-backed Intracoastal Waterway through Houma.

The newspaper consistently used the "intercoastal" spelling.

"A Government dredge ordered to Bayou Black from the upper Atchafalaya entered the Bayou a short time ago and began its work of deepening and widening the channel between Morgan City and Houma."

The idea of an east-west canal through Houma and across Terrebonne Parish dates back at least to the 1830s. Without paved roads and reliable internal combustion engines, transportation of heavy freight relied either on waterways or later, the railroad, which reached Terrebonne in the 1850s and Houma in the 1870s.


Going back to startpage images to look for a dredge and found this; Marker: A-76

The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal was proposed initially by William Byrd II in 1728. Surveys were made but engineering complications held up the project until the 1850s. Upon opening on January 9, 1859, the waterway provided an economic link between North Carolina and Virginia, connecting Albemarle Sound and Chesapeake Bay. The full canal was seventy-five miles long, but only fourteen of those cut through land. Of those miles five are in North Carolina, essentially bisecting Currituck County at Coinjock. The rest of the canal followed natural channels and dredged rivers.

Construction was authorized by bills introduced in the North Carolina and Virginia legislatures in 1854. Bonds to pay for the project, totaling just over one million dollars, were sold in the two states. Whereas fifty years before the nearby Dismal Swamp Canal had been dug by hand, newly invented steam dredges (known as “Iron Titans”) were used to cut through massive stumps, roots, and buried logs. During the Civil War the canal was the site of partisan action with ships sunk at the mouths to block entry.

After the war commercial use increased, especially by steamship lines. For example, in 1892, a total of 7,717 vessels (including 4,061 steamers) used the waterway. A private venture from its opening in 1859, the canal’s operation was taken over by the federal government on April 30, 1913. Today the canal is still in use, in large part by pleasure craft, as part of the Intracoastal Waterway.

References:
Alexander Crosby Brown, Juniper Waterway: A History of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal (1981)
Clifford Reginald Hinshaw Jr., “North Carolina Canals Before 1860,” North Carolina Historical Review (January 1948): 1-56
David Stick, The Outer Banks of North Carolina (1958)


And a photograph of a dredge taken in 1905;
A-76c.jpg
 

Bear Claw

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In these old books about star forts in Latin, old French is mentioned canals, that they're important to build and they were built. Seems all over the world. And seems by some supernatural force.
As to how they were built, I recall visiting the Panama Canal miraflores museum when I was younger. Quite a good museum that I think would benefit from a visit back there with knowledge I have now as to the knowledge I had then - (if anyone finds themselves in Panama City, I recommend). Anyway, I remember being struck by what in my head at the time was one of the maddest inventions I had ever come across, and you comment has reminded me of this.

Panama-Canal-Museum-Miraflores-Locks-Visitor-Center-005.jpg

Panama-Canal-Museum-Miraflores-Locks-Visitor-Center-006.jpg

Couldn't find anything official like a name of the ship, but did find someone elses photos from the museum. To me it looks both as if it could theoretically dig out large canals faster than one would anticipate humans could. But also, for the time (1904?). My main thoughts would be, surely the soil / rocks would have to go somewhere, and it would be very much restricted by its capacity before it would become overweight. And from that POV, the need to reload etc would be very time consuming. Also - presumably you couldn't dig a canal from scratch this would only work on existing waterways. Anyway I wonder whether anyone knows anymore about this machine. My other main thought is that it possibly falls into the 'technology of a lost world' category. Although I am not quite as confident on this. Any thoughts on that?

EDIT: hadn't picked up on that point about Iron Dredges jd755! Sorry. I guess they are fairly similar! Your post was really interesting, thanks!
 

JWW427

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How did they take down the trees? Hundreds of men with two man saws? The stumps and roots? For hundreds of miles of canal?
Dredging an existing old and mucked up canal is hard enough. Making a brand new one from forest must be a massive chore.
I can find no old photos of virgin forest canal building, only the panama and Cape Cod canals. All of our machinery is for dredging.
Highly suspicious, all of it.


Erie Canal, restoration or construction?:

Erie canal lock men.jpeg




"Canal construction machine. 19th-century artwork of a hydraulic excavator digging a canal in a swamp. Artwork from the 21st volume (first period of 1898) of the French popular science weekly 'La Science Illustree'."

canal construction machine.jpeg


Would this machine work?
JWW
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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Would this machine work?
Should this machine exist in 1898?

It’s always fun how these monsters just pop up out of our educational void just in time to fill in the curiosity gap. Where is R&D for something like this? Where are construction bureaus working on machines like these for years. And how does stuff like that fits into the general political and logistical picture supplied by our education?
 

maco144

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I live along the Delaware canal and ever since waking up to stolen history I'm certain it is from a bygone era which is different from the 'historical record'. The amount of heavy stones placed to create the banks and locks would take hundreds of man hours just to move a hundred yards. The store is that they had countless men preforming backbreaking labor with shovels & picks to build it, I could see it taking that many just to preform basic dredge work.
 

space966

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@Bear Claw This Panama ship looks like for river cleaning. After building dam, sometimes river level drops, grass starts to grow, also to remove liquid sand. These canals are related to these ships, who look like submarines and have strange routes, I think. Korbin earlier made post about them.
 

Bear Claw

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@Bear Claw This Panama ship looks like for river cleaning. After building dam, sometimes river level drops, grass starts to grow, also to remove liquid sand. These canals are related to these ships, who look like submarines and have strange routes, I think. Korbin earlier made post about them.
Thanks, and I agree it probably is. However, I have a memory of the note attached to the exhibit saying that it was used to dig (deepening the channels). I am not disagreeing with you, I am just attaching my memory to the discussion. I do feel that your point makes more logical sense. The blades do certainly look more suited to cleaning than terraforming.
 

panther lake

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Not all 3000 miles of this is canals that were dug out. Most of this waterway has to be rivers and in some places connected by canals. There is a section of canal in Phoenix, NY where there is a lock but otherwise it is the Oswego River. And I've seen some very large boats on it.

"The Oswego River is a river in upstate New York in the United States. It is the second-largest river flowing into Lake Ontario. James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Pathfinder, or The Inland Sea is set in the Oswego River valley. Wikipedia "

Also from Wikipedia:

Oswego Canal
Canalized for part of its length as the Oswego Canal, the Oswego River also serves as a part of the New York State Canal System, providing a route from the Erie Canal to Lake Ontario. This section of the canal was completed in 1827, two years after completion of the Erie Canal. In 1917, as part of a general overhaul of the canal system, the Oswego Canal was deepened and refurbished. The canal is now 14 feet (4.3 m) deep and has an overhead clearance of 20 feet (6.1 m).
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As for the Erie Canal itself, I'll go looking for some more info for this site. It's all around where I live. There is a section not far from me that was part of "the originial Erie Canal" that was started earlier than the one that is official. If I can get back to that section of the pathway alongside, I will get some pictures. I remember seeing the white blocks there.

I think that much of the Erie Canal system follow the old Native American trails This wiki site shows them in relation to the Erie Canal:

Mohawk or Iroquois Trail Genealogy - FamilySearch Wiki

Check out the history section. The Erie Canal wasn't cut through forests.

And this relating to NY State Route 5

New York State Route 5 - Wikipedia

Early roads
Soon after the end of the American Revolution in 1783, a surge of westward migration into Central and Western New York began. At the time, most travel west of the Albany area was by water. While rudimentary roads were laid out following the Mohawk River, there were no major land routes west of Fort Schuyler (present day Utica), except for an old east–west Iroquois trail that was a simple footpath. By the late 1780s many companies began to set up their operations in the new settlements in the Central and Western New York. As a result, there was a clamor for the building of a main road running west from Utica.[16]

Junction of NY 5 and NY 46 in Oneida
On March 22, 1794, the New York State Legislature passed a law calling for the laying out and improvement of a public road from old Fort Schuyler on the Mohawk River to the settlement of Canawaugus on the Genesee River, in as straight a line as the topography of the land would allow. This road was officially known as the "Great Genesee Road" and is one of the earliest state roads in New York,[16] intended to provide access to the New Military Tract. As planned, it generally followed the old Iroquois trail through Oneida, Manlius, Onondaga Valley (south of modern Syracuse), Skaneateles, Auburn, Seneca Falls, Geneva, and Canandaigua[17] before ending at the Genesee River. Four years later, another legislative act authorized the extension of the Genesee Road to Buffalo.[16]

By the end of the 18th century, while the Genesee Road had been greatly improved and saw heavy traffic, many portions were still substandard and some sections had still not been completed.[17][18] Partly because of this, and also because of the success of the Lancaster Turnpike in Pennsylvania, the state outsourced the task of improving and maintaining the Genesee Road to a private company. On April 1, 1800, the Seneca Road Company was chartered for this purpose and the portion of the Genesee Road from Utica to Canandaigua was improved and operated as a toll road known as the Seneca Turnpike,[18] which was 157 miles (253 km) long and, at the time, the longest turnpike in the state.[17][19] Three days later, the old road following the Mohawk River between Utica and Schenectady also became a turnpike, known as the Mohawk Turnpike.[18]
With the road leading from Albany northwest to Schenectady having been already established as a turnpike (the Albany and Schenectady Turnpike) in 1797, an all-turnpike route over good quality roads was now available from Albany to Canandaigua. The western extension of the Genesee Road to Buffalo soon followed suit and also became an improved Macadam toll road,[20] the Ontario and Genesee Turnpike, in 1805. The Seneca Road Company was authorized to create a more northerly alternate route of the Seneca Turnpike in 1806.[21] This branch left the original turnpike east of Seneca Falls and crossed more level terrain through Elbridge, Geddes, and Fayetteville before rejoining the old path at Chittenango.[17][19] As the city of Syracuse developed, traffic patterns changed and the northern branch route became more heavily used than the original road.[21]

The construction and opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 along the same alignment as the Albany to Buffalo route began to eat away at the revenues of these turnpike companies. In time, the turnpike business had become unprofitable and the companies were dissolved by 1852, causing the roads to revert to public control.[21] The Seneca Road Company dissolved in 1852. The old, southern path of the Seneca Turnpike is now Franklin Street and Old Seneca Turnpike from Auburn to Marcellus, NY 175 between Marcellus and Onondaga Hill, and NY 173 from there east to Chittenango.[17][19]

I'll try to get more info and pictures on these canal topics in NYS.
 
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