October 24, 2014
Pictured above is one of the last remaining hand-operated locks, Songo Locks in Sebago Lake State Park, Maine. The Songo Locks were part of a series of 27 granite masonry locks from Long Lake, Harrison, Maine to Portland; the canal system started 273 ft (83 m) above sea level, and opened in 1832. Along the canal route was a gunpowder factory that supplied 25 percent of the gunpowder for the Union army in the U.S. Civil War. Apples and masts for ships also travelled to the seaport of Portland.
In the first few decades of the 1800s, canals were an important way to connect communities. George Washington considered canals to be a national imperative and was concerned that this new country needed to be connected by commerce and trade to be united. He was specifically speaking about the Patowmack Canal when he said canals "bind those people to us by a chain which never can be broken.”
Note that the word "canal" and the word "channel" have the same root. Our contemporary canals may be information channels, i.e., the Internet. Photo taken on October 14, 2014.