THE TOWPATH PASSES
The passing of the Canal Era was a time of sorrow for the thousands of people who had staked their all in order to locate on some star-spangled waterfront, where the music of packet and oyster bar made the wilderness endurable by night, and the jingle of oxen harness and the tinkle of gold coin in the family coffers made it pleasant by day.
But when the combined canal debts of the country had passed the sixty-million-dollar mark with no relief in sight while a new railroad popped into existence somewhere almost monthly -- it came to be evident to all that the Iron Horse had come to stay, and the ditches were doomed. By now Indiana had defaulted on her canal debt. Maryland had defaulted on hers. Pennsylvania had also defaulted -- because a troop of railroaders had the effrontery to parallel her Grand Canal from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, even borrowing her Portage Canal until they could fill two ravines and cut away a mountain to give them a wide horseshoe ascent that would eventually cut travel time from 4 1/2 days by canal to a 17-hour run by rail.
By now, too, foreign aid from private sources -- which had been flourishing -- was no longer available to canal builders. Too many Europeans had already been scorched by investing in American projects under the assumption that all states in that fabulous never-never land must be as rich as Croesus,
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Publication information: Book title: The Long Haul West:The Great Canal Era, 1817-1850. Contributors: Madeline Sadler Waggoner - Author. Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1958. Page number: 288.
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