The Long Haul West: The Great Canal Era, 1817-1850

The Long Haul West: The Great Canal Era, 1817-1850

The Long Haul West: The Great Canal Era, 1817-1850

The Long Haul West: The Great Canal Era, 1817-1850

Excerpt

The winds blew icy across the salt marshes of Cape Cod where two men stood huddled together, hugging their greatcoats close, each turning a defensive shoulder against the sleet. They were trying, in spite of the weather, to give their full attention to the narrow neck of land at the base of the Cape upon which they stood. The fact that an eight-mile waterway cut across the strip at this point would make the sea route from Boston to New Amsterdam materially shorter and safer was the subject under discussion -- with due apologies to the good Lord for presuming to correct his oversight.

But the bitter winds grew more fierce, howling across the desolate waste. And the slanting sleet cut cruelly into their faces, soon forcing the two men to hustle rheumatic bones home to warm firesides where one of them, Sam Sewell, reached down a diary from his library shelf, flexed a chilled hand until it could hold a quill pen, then recorded the day's happenings.

"Mr.Smith of Sandwich rode with me and showed me the place some had thought to cut, for to make a passage from the south sea to the north."

The day was October 26, 1676. And this was one of the two earliest known suggestions for an American canal. But it would be 1914 -- another two hundred and thirty-eight years -- before the dream of a waterway at this point could be realized. . . .

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