canal

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

canal

canal, an artificial waterway constructed for navigation or for the movement of water. The digging of canals for irrigation probably dates back to the beginnings of agriculture, and traces of canals have been found in the regions of ancient civilizations. Canals are also used to provide municipal and industrial water supplies. The drainage of wet lands may be accomplished by means of a canal; by this method the Fens of England and the Zuider Zee in the Netherlands were drained. Canals can be used for flood control by diverting water from threatened areas into storage basins or to other outlets. In some cases canals are used to generate electricity; the Moscow-Volga Canal is used for this purpose.

Navigation canals developed after irrigation canals and for a long time were level, shallow cuts or had inclined planes up which vessels were hauled from one level to the next; locks (see lock, canal) developed separately in China (10th cent.) and Europe (Holland; 13th cent.). Over the years canals have been expanded in width and depth in order to accommodate larger craft, and they have, in some cases, been constructed to form bridges or to pass through tunnels to overcome topographic difficulties. Movement on canals was long accomplished by animal tows or by poling; in the 20th cent. mechanized tows and self-propelled barges appeared.

The Grand Canal of China (the longest in the world) was completed in the 13th cent. and is the most notable of the early canals. France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany were the first in Europe to develop inland waterway systems by using canals to connect rivers; these countries now have a dense network of waterways (see Rhine Canals; Midland Canal). Canal building was widespread in the 18th and 19th cent. During that period England developed an elaborate canal network, and there was also a canal-building boom in the United States in the 19th cent., especially after the completion of the Erie Canal. However, the rise of railroads brought a decline in the building and use of canals as inland waterways. Canals have been built to shorten sea voyages or to make them less hazardous, e.g., the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal, and the Kiel Canal. Canals improve conditions on natural waterways by bypassing falls (the Welland Ship Canal), shallows, or swift currents (the Sip Canal in the Danube River's Iron Gate gorge). Canals may provide inland cities with direct access to the sea (the Manchester Ship Canal), or shorten the distance between cities (the Albert Canal). In the 20th cent. canals regained importance, as modern technology provided the means to overcome greater topographic obstacles and facilitated the construction of larger canals and the expansion of existing ones. The Great LakesSaint Lawrence Seaway system, opened to navigation in 1959, is the world's longest deep-draft inland waterway. Including six short canals with a total length of less than 60 nautical mi (110 km), it extends from the Atlantic Ocean to Duluth, Minn. on Lake Superior, a distance of more than 2,340 mi (3,700 km), providing large oceangoing vessels passage into central North America.

See C. Hadfield, World Canals (1986); R. Spangenburg and D. Moser, The Story of America's Canals (1992); R. E. Shaw, Canals for a Nation: The Canal Era in the United States, 1790–1860 (1993); J. M. Bracken, American Waterways: The Role of Canals in America (1997).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

canal
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.