Canal Historic Marker and Other Pictures

Canal Historic Marker
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Here first Canal in United States was built in 1802
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The British-owned Company, which was chartered to render the Conn. River navigable here in 1791, was 10 years building the 9 locks and dam around the Great Falls, 52 ft. high. After the railroad came in 1849, river traffic declined and the canal was used for water power only.

In the background is Fall Mountain in winter.

Note: This title of "first canal in United States" is claimed by many canals. The Bellows Falls Canal may be "the first canal in the United States that is still used industrially". (It's used as a sluiceway for a electric power plant.)

Other first canals in the United States:

Canada easily claims the first lock canal in North America, with the Coteau-du-Lac Canal completed in 1780 with 3 locks. So, the first lock canal in America will depend on the definition of "America". See the Parcs Canada website.

It's worthwhile to note that the canals built during the canal mania of the 1790s attracted lots of investment money, but probably none ever broke even. The dot-com mania 200 years later was not a new phenomenon. Another similarity: In 1790, lotteries were common, legal ways to raise capital for canal construction; in 1990, stock markets served the same purpose with the same results for would-be winners.

Thanks to Thomas A. Smith, Director of Public Programs/Collections Manager at the National Canal Museum in Easton, PA (on the Delaware River) for adding adding two canals that I missed.

An early 20th century hand-colored post card of the Bellows Falls canal, looking north at the Rutland Railroad bridge (Note the low clearance under the bridge. This is most of the usual flow of the Connecticut River diverted for mill power and electric power. The canal hasn't been used for navigation since 1849):

Another early (pre-1920) post card looking south with Fall Mountain in the background:

Hand-colored, circa 1915 postcard looking south:

Hand colored post card circa 1910 of the "New Canal Bridge" leading to the Railroad Station, looking north:

Back to Bellows Falls Canal

Bellows Falls (VT) Walking Tour

Compiled by Dan Axtell