South Hadley Canal Historic District

The South Hadley Canal was a canal along the Connecticut River in South Hadley, Massachusetts. It is said to be the earliest navigable canal in the United States, with operation commencing in 1795. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the South Hadley Canal Historic District.

The canal dates to February 1792, when leading citizens of western Massachusetts proposed to build a canal around the Great Falls at South Hadley, a 53-foot (16 m) drop in the Connecticut River that blocked boat transport. At that time, all cargo needed to be unloaded for 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of land transport around the falls, driving river transport cost for a bushel of wheat from Northampton, Massachusetts to Windsor, Connecticut to more than double its transport costs by sea from Hartford to Boston. John Hancock, then Governor of Massachusetts, signed the charter which incorporated the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on the Connecticut River. Their corporate seal bore the motto "SIC TRANSIT - Public & Private Good."

Funds were raised both locally and internationally, with four Dutch investment houses owning slightly over 50% of the stock. The canal was built by some 240 local workers. In April 1795 it opened to commercial traffic. (Nearby Turners Falls Canal opened three years later.) First year revenue came to $3,109 at 75 cents per ton. By 1816 tolls had grown to over $16,000. In 1826 the Barnet, the first steamboat to operate on the Connecticut River, passed through the South Hadley Canal on its way to Vermont. However by 1843 competing railroads had begun to erode income, and the canal closed as uneconomical in 1862.

Rather than use locks, the canal was built with an unusual "inclined plane" to transport 20-foot (6.1 m) by 60-foot (18 m) flatboats over the falls. The inclined plane appears to have been pioneered on England's Ketley Canal in 1788. This was its first use in American canals, and served as a pattern for others including the Morris Canal in New Jersey.

On the South Hadley Canal's inclined plane, the boat was first maneuvered into a special cart, then hauled up or down a ramp built of solid stone, 275 feet (84 m) long by 30 feet (9.1 m), covered with strong wood planks, and having a slope of 13.5 degrees. Lifting power was supplied by two overshot waterwheels 16 feet (4.9 m) in diameter, one on each side of the inclined plane, connected to the cart with chains. The cart had unequal wheel sizes to keep the boat level during transport. Total transport time was about 15 minutes. In 1805, after about 10 years of use, however, the inclined plane was replaced by a series of five locks when it was necessary to deepen the canal.

Today Canal Park serves as a historic memorial.

Other articles related to "canal, canals":

Berkhamsted - Canal
... The Grand Junction Canal runs through Berkhamsted parallel to the High Street ... The canal later became part of the Grand Union Canal in 1929 ... With the advent of canal transport, Castle Wharf became a hub of inland water transport and boat building activity ...
Rideau Canal
... The Rideau Canal (French Canal Rideau), also known as the Rideau Waterway, connects the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on the Ottawa River to the city of Kingston ... The canal system uses sections of major rivers, including the Rideau and the Cataraqui, as well as some lakes ... The canal was opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States ...
Lists of Canals
... Europe Canals of France Canals of Amsterdam Canals of Germany Canals of Ireland Canals of Russia Canals of the United Kingdom North America Canals of Canada Canals of the United ...
Rideau Canal - Skateway
... In winter, a section of the Rideau Canal passing through central Ottawa becomes officially the world's largest skating rink ... In response, the Rideau Canal was rebranded as "the world's largest skating rink" ... Although some residents of Ottawa had been using the canal as an impromptu skating surface for years, the official use of the canal as a skateway and tourist attraction is a more ...

Famous quotes containing the words district, historic, south and/or canal:

    Most works of art, like most wines, ought to be consumed in the district of their fabrication.
    Rebecca West (1892–1983)

    If there is any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age of Revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side, and admit of being compared; when the energies of all men are searched by fear and by hope; when the historic glories of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the new era?
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    History in the making is a very uncertain thing. It might be better to wait till the South American republic has got through with its twenty-fifth revolution before reading much about it. When it is over, some one whose business it is, will be sure to give you in a digested form all that it concerns you to know, and save you trouble, confusion, and time. If you will follow this plan, you will be surprised to find how new and fresh your interest in what you read will become.
    Anna C. Brackett (1836–1911)

    My impression about the Panama Canal is that the great revolution it is going to introduce in the trade of the world is in the trade between the east and the west coast of the United States.
    William Howard Taft (1857–1930)