Chesapeake and Delaware Canal - Delaware City, DE
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member 94RedRover
N 39° 34.706 W 075° 35.263
18S E 449525 N 4381134
Quick Description: The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal was an innovative transportation method that helped build trade and commerce in the area. The entrance to the canal was right here in historic Delaware City.
Location: Delaware, United States
Date Posted: 6/28/2009 6:14:06 PM
Waymark Code: WM6NXA
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 1

Long Description:

"At 11 m. the road crosses a great steel lift bridge over the CHESAPEAKE AND DELAWARE CANAL (see TRANSPORTATION).

For three miles south of the canal the River Rd. passes through great areas of marsh, formerly embanked against tides but now subject to regular tidal ebb and flow east of the causeway. In late fall these marshes and the marshes farther south along this route are leased for raiibird and black duck shooting, in the winter for muskrat trapping. All summer and into September numbers of tropical white herons (egrets) as well as the native great blue herons wade through the reeds and cattails spearing frogs and other small creatures. In August, great expanses of marsh are gay with pink and white marshmallows."

--- Delaware: A Guide to the First State, 1938

The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (C&D Canal) is a 14-mile ship canal connecting the Delaware River with the Chesapeake Bay and the Port of Baltimore. The canal was an answer to the need for more economical transportation of goods for increased growth of industry and commerce.

Augustine Herman, a Dutch mapmaker had proposed a waterway by built to connect those two bodies of water, thus eliminating 300 miles of travel in the mid 1600s. It wasn't until 1764 that the idea of a waterway like the canal was even addressed, and it wasn't until 1788 with the urging of business leaders like Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush again proposed the idea. In 1802 the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company was incorporated. Construction of the canal with 14 locks began in 1804.

Financial difficulties halted the project after two years of construction. Finally in 1822, new surveys were done to determine funds needed to complete the project. Through public offering, the project began again in April 1824. In 1829 the C&D Canal Company opened the canal for transportation. The canal cost almost $2.5 million to build, making it one of the most expensive canal projects of its time.

Eventually advancments in shipping brought deeper-draft vessels that could not navigate through the narrow and shallow locks of the C&D Canal. By the early 1900s, decline in canal traffic and increased cost of operation caused the downfall of the canal. In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt converted the canal to a "free and open waterway."

The Federal Government purchased the canal in 1919 and designated it part of the "Intra-coastal Waterway Delaware River to Chesapeake Bay, Delaware and Maryland." In 1927, after $10 million in repairs, the newer, deeper lock-free canal was opened. Between 1935 and 1938, the canal was again widened and deepened to accomodate larger commercial ships. Not only did the canal have to be expanded for these ships, certain vehicular bridges traversing the canal had to be replaced with higher span bridges.

The lock located here in Delaware City was the entrance to the canal, and the first lock. People would gather at the Battery Park lawn and watch the great ships bring goods and the economy here prospered. The commerce of the town was directly connected to this canal. As the canal profit dwindled, the prosperity of the town followed suit.

The Eastern Lock was the only one of the 14 locks that was not removed during expansion, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, and was listed as a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 1985.

Book: Delaware

Page Number(s) of Excerpt: 474

Year Originally Published: 1938

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muffy53 visited Chesapeake and Delaware Canal - Delaware City, DE 9/2/2010 muffy53 visited it