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Old 09-09-2009, 16:52   #1
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The Mystique of Inland Navigation

Ever since buying a 12 foot O'day Widgeon and exploring the upper reaches of the Charles River in Massachusetts I have been obsessed with our countries inland waterways and canals. There is something really enthralling about the roads our country had before we had roads, and the fact that we are all somehow tied together by these water ways. I have just moved overboard (my term for no longer living aboard) from San Diego and will be moving about as far from the sea as you can imagine: Pittsburgh. Yay.

My question is this: Why does the Allegheny not tie itself, via a system of Canals, to lake Erie or even the Hudson river? A look at this historical map shows that at some time that was indeed the case.
Inland waterways in USA and Canada

Does anyone have any first hand knowledge of the condition of any of these canals or what some high points of interest are while exploring the area by boat?
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Old 09-09-2009, 17:10   #2
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I live near the Trent-Severn waterway on the northern portion of your map (which is missing Manitoulin Island, by the way). It runs from Port Severn on Georgian Bay, through Barrie & Peterborough to Trenton (Ontario, not New Jersey). The waterway never carried much commercial traffic as I understand it, since by the time it was completed it was too small for commercial shipping. Hence, it is much better known as a pleasure boat thouroughfare. It is fairly affordable to transit, considering the number of locks & the fact that bypassing it involves a much longer journey. The downside is that the locks only operate an 11 hour day & that the bridge clearance is only 22 feet.

Parks Canada - Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site
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Old 09-09-2009, 17:51   #3
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Zednotzee,

3 summers back another couple, the wife and I, picked up a Monk 42 from Hansen's Marina in Penetang, took it thru the Trent-Severn to Trenton, across to New York and down the Hudson. First 2 weeks in June, before the summer rush and the black flies. It was one of the most satisfying periods on a boat that I have ever had. The area around Bobcageon is absolutely beautiful and the Big Chute and Peterborough lift lock are marvels of engineering.
When we stopped at Peterborough for the night we were given an end birth on a pier on which there was a great Friday night party in swing, halfway along the floats. Knowing how Canadians love beer I hooked 3 beers between fingers on each hand, strolled to the party and said "I am paying the toll to get thru". Needless to say It was hours before we left the party and got back to the boat. The amazing thing was that 4 of the people we met had worked here in Bermuda, and we shared many mutual friends. One of my fondest occasions.
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Old 10-09-2009, 18:36   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unbusted67 View Post
Ever since buying a 12 foot O'day Widgeon and exploring the upper reaches of the Charles River in Massachusetts I have been obsessed with our countries inland waterways and canals. There is something really enthralling about the roads our country had before we had roads, and the fact that we are all somehow tied together by these water ways. I have just moved overboard (my term for no longer living aboard) from San Diego and will be moving about as far from the sea as you can imagine: Pittsburgh. Yay.

My question is this: Why does the Allegheny not tie itself, via a system of Canals, to lake Erie or even the Hudson river? A look at this historical map shows that at some time that was indeed the case.
Inland waterways in USA and Canada

Does anyone have any first hand knowledge of the condition of any of these canals or what some high points of interest are while exploring the area by boat?
The only thing I see even possible is the Beaver which leaves the Allegheny at Rochester, PA. Within the first 3 miles or so there are 3 spillways that are impassable. At two places I see abandoned locks.

I looked at topo maps, which show that anything to the East is unlikely. The ENC charts don't include the Beaver, so I figured it wasn't navigable, but I looked on Google Earth to find out why.

EDIT: It ends up in Youngstown at a higher elevation. I saw no place that looks like there was even a canal cut off from it. Because of the elevations involved, I'd be surprised if there was ever a canal connecting it to the Great Lakes, much less over towards the Atlantic.

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Old 10-09-2009, 19:12   #5
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The cost of such a canal was estimated to be $16-20 million in 1874 in this article.

Here is a two part video on YouTube that explains what they did build. It was a combination of canals with a 36 mile railroad connecting them that could carry people AND boats to Pittsburgh! Interesting videos.




Interesting thing is the portage railroad died in about 1857, when the above article was written. But I couldn't find anything showing a canal was ever built.

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Old 10-09-2009, 19:31   #6
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Canals were serious big time in the 1820's to the later 1850's then suddenly the rail road! Those guys knew the best scam in town and invented most of the best stock fraud scams ever invented. The whole canal business really was only big for 40 years. In Europe it was a lot longer and they have great canal systems in Britain and Europe.
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