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Gen. Philip Schuyler may justly be regarded as the father of the United States canal system. As early as 1761, when he was in England settling the accounts of Gen. John Bradstreet with the government, he visited the famous canal which the Duke of Bridgewater had just completed, and became profoundly impressed with the importance of such highways in the work of developing the internal resources of his own country. On his return, he urged the matter upon the attention of his countrymen. Meanwhile the active mind of Elkanah Watson (q. v.) had been deeply interested in the subject. In 1785 he visited Mount Vernon, where he found Washington engaged in a project for connecting the waters of the Potomac with those west of the Alleghany Mountains. He and General Schuyler projected canals between the Hudson River and lakes Champlain and Ontario, and in 1792 the legislature of New York chartered two companies, known, respectively, as the Western inland lock navigation Company and “Northern inland lock navigation Company,” of both of which Schuyler was made president, and, at his death, in 1804, he was actively engaged in the promotion of both projects. The Western canal was never completed, according to its original conception, but was supplemented by the great Erie Canal, suggested by Gouverneur Morris about 1801. In a letter to David Parish, of Philadelphia, that year. he distinctly foreshadowed that great work. As early as 1774 Washington favored the passage of a law by the legislature of Virginia for the construction of works—canals and good wagonroads—by which the Potomac and Ohio rivers might be connected by a chain of commerce. After the Revolution, the States of Virginia and Maryland took measures which resulted in the formation of the famous Potomac Company, to [49] carry out Washington's project. In 1784 Washington revived a project for making a canal through the Dismal Swamp, not only for drainage, but for navigation between the Elizabeth River and Albemarle Sound. The oldest work of the kind in the United States is a canal, begun in 1792, 5 miles in extent, for passing the falls of the Connecticut River at South Hadley. The earliest completed and most important of the great canals of our country is the Erie, connecting the waters of Lake Erie with those of the Hudson River. A committee appointed by Congress during Jefferson's administration reported in favor of this canal, and a survey was directed to be made. Commissioners were appointed in 1810, who reported to Congress in March, 1811. In consequence of the War of 1812, the project languished until 1817. In that year ground was broken for the Erie Canal on July 4, under the authority of New York State, and on Oct. 26, 1825, the canal was completed. It was built by the State of New York at an original cost of $9,000,000, from the operation of which untold wealth has been derived by the city and State of New York. It was completed and formally opened by Governor De Witt Clinton, its great advocate, in 1825, and has been enlarged at great expense since. The canal changed the whole aspect of commercial affairs in the Lake region. The total area of these five great inland seas is about 90,000 square miles, and their inlets drain a region of 336,000 square miles.

Of the various canals that have been constructed in the United States, the following are the only ones in commercial operation in 1901, many former ones having been abandoned within recent years because of the demands of commerce for quicker transportation. An interesting feature of recent canal construction and improvement is the adaptation of these waterways to vessels of large tonnage, using steam or other swift motive power. The old-fashioned canal, accommodating small boats drawn by mules or horses, has given way to the ship-canal, through which a war-ship can safely speed.

Canals in the United States.

in miles.
Albemarle and Chesapeake$1,641,363186044Norfolk, Va., to Currituck Sound, N. C.
Augusta1,500,00018479Savannah River, Ga., to Augusta, Ga.
Black River3,581,954184935Rome, N. Y., to Lyons Falls, N. Y.
Cayuga and Seneca 2,232,632183925Montezuma, N. Y., to Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, N. Y.
Champlain 4,044,000182281Whitehall, N. Y., to Waterford. N. Y.
Chesapeake and Delaware3,730,230182914Chesapeake City, Md., to Delaware City, Del.
Chesapeake and Ohio11,290,3271850184Cumberland, Md., to Washington, D. C.
Chicago Drainage. See next page.
Companys 90,000184722Mississippi River, La., to Bayou Black, La.
Delaware and Raritan 4,888,749183866New Brunswick, N. J., to Trenton, N. J.
Delaware Division2,433,350183060Easton, Pa., to Bristol, Pa.
Des Moines Rapids4,582,00918777 1-2At Des Moines Rapids, Mississippi River.
Dismal Swamp2,800,000182222Connects Chesapeake Bay with Albemarle Sound.
Erie 52,540,8001825381Albany, N. Y., to Buffalo, N. Y.
Fairfield 4 1-2Alligator River to Lake Mattimuskeet, N. C.
Galveston and Brazos340,000185138Galveston, Tex., to Brazos River, Tex.
Hocking 975,481184342Carroll, O., to Nelsonville, O.
Illinois and Michigan7,357,7871848102Chicago, 111., to La Salle, Ill.
Illinois and Mississippi568,64318954 1-2Around lower rapids of Rock River, Ill. Connects with Mississippi River.
Lehigh Coal and Navigation Co.4,455,0001821108Coalport, Pa., to Easton, Pa.
Louisville and Portland5,578,63118722 1-2At Falls of Ohio River, Louisville, Ky.
Miami and Erie8,062,6801835274Cincinnati, O., to Toledo, O.
Morris 6,000,0001836103Easton, Pa., to Jersey City, N. J.
Muscle Shoals and Elk River Shoals.3,156,919188916Big Muscle Shoals, Tenn., to Elk River Shoals, Tenn.
Newbern and Beaufort3Clubfoot Creek to Harlow Creek, N C.
Ogeechee 407,818184016Savannah River, Ga., to Ogeechee River, Ga.
Ohio 4,695,2041835317Cleveland, O., to Portsmouth, O.
Oswego5,239,526182838Oswego, N. Y., to Syracuse, N. Y.
Pennsylvania7,731,7501839193Columbia, Northumberland, W1ilkesbarre, Huntingdon, Pa.
Portage Lake and Lake Superior528,892187325From Keweenaw Bay to Lake Superior.
Port Arthur18997Port Arthur, Tex., to Gulf of Mexico.
Santa Fe 70,00188010Waldo, Fla., to Melrose, Fla.
Sault Ste. Marie 4,000,00018953Connects Lakes Superior and Huron at St. Mary's River.
Schuylkill Navigation Co12,461,6001826108Mill Creek, Pa., to Philadelphia, Pa.
Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan99,66118811 1-4Between Green Bay and Lake Michigan.
St. Mary's Falls7,909,66718961 1-3Connects Lakes Superior and Huron at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Susquehanna and Tidewater4,931,345184045Columbia, Pa., to Havre de Grace, Md.
Walhonding607,269184325Rochester, O., to Roscoe, O.
Welland 23,796,353....26 3-4Connects Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.


Chicago drainage Canal

A canal intended chiefly for carrying off the sewage of Chicago, but which may be used for commercial purposes; begun in September, 1892; completed in January, 1900. The main channel is 29 miles long, extending from Chicago to Locksport on the Illinois River, into which stream it discharges. About 9 miles of the channel is cut through solid rock, with a minimum depth of 22 feet and a width of 160 feet on the bottom in rock, which makes it the largest artificial channel in the world. The length of the waterway from the mouth of the Chicago River to its terminus south of Joliet is about 42 miles. The cost of the canal was estimated at about $45,000,000.

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