The Soo Canal
Top Ten Historic Canals
In the era when water provided the most efficient form of transportation, canals played a vital role in the nation's economy.
New York touched off a frenzy of construction when the Erie Canal, connecting the Hudson River to Lake Erie, was completed in 1825. Cities like Syracuse soon sprung up along its route. Soon other states were trying to duplicate the success of the Erie.
Roscoe is a museum village on the Ohio and Erie Canal, which stretched through eastern Ohio from Portsmouth to Cleveland.
Indiana went bankrupt, however, trying to build its Whitewater Canal, and the town of Metamora, which grew up alongside it, soon became a ghost town. Many of Metamora's buildings have been restored since the 1960's.
The Delaware and Hudson Canal allowed coal producers in Pennsylvania to ship more quickly into New York City after its opening in 1828.
The towpaths along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal have been turned into a recreation and historic area around Washington, D.C. while Chesapeake City was created as part of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which cuts across the Delmarva Peninsula.
The Lehigh Canal was another waterway that brought Pennsylvania's anthracite mines in closer touch with an ocean outlet, through the Delaware River.
The Illinois and Michigan Canal was a major factor in turning Chicago into a major port, as goods from the Great Lakes could be shipped along its length to the Mississippi River. Lockport, the town that grew up along the canal, celebrates Old Canal Days each year.
The Dismal Swamp Canal, dating from the late 18th century, is the oldest in the country.
The Soo, which was first opened in the 1850's, is the biggest. Built to bypass the rapids of the St. Marys River and bring the mineral wealth of the Lake Superior region to the lower Great Lakes, the Soo Canal carries more tonnage than any other man-made waterway in the world.
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