EarthView team bios, guidelines, and more.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

America's First Canal

Thanks to the MassMoments project of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, we learn that today marks an interesting anniversary in the geography of New England. It was on December 1, 1826 that the first steamship passed through the South Hadley Canal. The canal is still visible in the satellite imagery below, which makes clear its purpose: it provided a means of navigating around the rocky South Hadley Falls area of the Connecticut River.

As the MassMoments post explains, this canal was the first in the United States to carry river traffic, as it did for nearly forty years. This is a key bit of the "geography behind history" for the entire Connecticut River Valley, which remains the key north-south corridor in New England.

The canal last operated in 1863, and played a part in its own demise. By increasing the importance of the river as a transportation corridor, the canal helped to make way for the railroads that would eventually replace it. Those, in turn, led eventually to the establishment of highways such as Interstate 91, which are the most common ways of following the course of the river today.

This map shows the Connecticut River, its watershed, major tributaries, and major highways. It is one of many map and geography resources available from the Connecticut River Watershed Council. Please explore the collection. As the Council points out, no single map can capture the complexity of this watershed -- over 11,000 square miles draining to a 406-mile main channel.. 

No comments:

Post a Comment