Edited by Gerald Boerner
North America’s Great Lakes represent one of the largest inland, fresh water set of lakes found anywhere on earth. They are essentially large inland seas that are navigable by large ships carrying products of commerce. In many cases, canals have been constructed to allow shipping traffic between adjacent lakes. The Erie Canal was built in the early 19th century to create a route from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.
In 1959 the Saint Lawrence Seaway opened to create a route from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean via the route of the St. Lawrence River. To allow oceangoing ships to make this trip, a series of canals with locks to adjust the elevation of the vessels were required. Wikipedia describes it as:
“The Saint Lawrence Seaway (St. Lawrence Seaway), is the common name for a system of locks, canals and channels that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes, as far as Lake Superior. Legally it extends from Montreal to Lake Erie, including the Welland Canal. The seaway is named after the Saint Lawrence River, which it follows from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean. This section of the seaway is not a continuous canal, but rather comprises stretches of navigable channels within the river, a number of locks, as well as canals made to bypass rapids and dams in the waterway. A number of locks are managed by the Canadian Saint Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and others by the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.”
Queen Elizabeth and President Eisenhower presided over the ceremonies of this bi-national project. It put the Erie Canal out of business and affected many towns along the route. But it opened up ports within the Great Lakes to the oceangoing commerce.
So, let’s great started on our exploration of today’s topic… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 4180 Words ]
Quotations Related to CANALS:
“Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”
— Ronald Reagan
“I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate; and while the debate goes on, the canal does also.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
“In my own area, Hood Canal, we are working with the USGS on dealing with this oxygenation problem.”
— Norm Dicks
“In the United States three new methods of transportation made their appearance at almost the same time – the steamboat, the canal boat, and the rail car.”
— John Moody
“Regarding the Panama Canal Treaty negotiations, they will find us standing up or dead, but never on our knees; NEVER!”
— Omar Torrijos Herrera
“The digestive canal represents a tube passing through the entire organism and communicating with the external world, i.e. as it were the external surface of the body, but turned inwards and thus hidden in the organism.”
— Ivan Pavlov
“Which I would’ve done ’cause I volunteered for the draft which meant that I only had to do two years. But when the Cubans had missiles in the Canal and Kennedy made the extension, I was one of the ones who had enough time to be extended.”
— Edwin Starr
“My first movie was this independent that I did on the Erie Canal in 1995, called Erie, that I don’t know if you could even get, actually with Felicity Huffman. And then from that I did this film that was eventually called The Broken Giant later that fall. And then I kind of started getting into doing pilots.”
— Will Arnett
St. Lawrence Seaway Opens: Great Lakes to Atlantic…
The Saint Lawrence Seaway (St. Lawrence Seaway), in French: la Voie Maritime du Saint-Laurent, is the common name for a system of locks, canals and channels that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes, as far as Lake Superior. Legally it extends from Montreal to Lake Erie, including the Welland Canal. The seaway is named after the Saint Lawrence River, which it follows from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean. This section of the seaway is not a continuous canal, but rather comprises stretches of navigable channels within the river, a number of locks, as well as canals made to bypass rapids and dams in the waterway. A number of locks are managed by the Canadian Saint Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and others by the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface and volume. The total surface is 208,610 km2 (80,545 sq mi), and the total volume is 22,560 km3 (5,412 cu mi) The lakes are sometimes referred to as the North Coast or "Third Coast" by some citizens of the United States. The Great Lakes hold 21% of the world’s surface fresh water.
History of the St. Lawrence Seaway
The Saint Lawrence Seaway was preceded by a number of other canals. In 1871, locks on the Saint Lawrence allowed transit of vessels 186 ft (57 m) long, 44 ft 6 in (13.56 m) wide, and 9 ft (2.7 m) deep. The Welland Canal at that time allowed transit of vessels 142 ft (43 m) long, 26 ft (7.9 m) wide, and 10 ft (3.0 m) deep, but was generally too small to allow passage of larger ocean-going ships.
The first proposals for a bi-national comprehensive deep waterway along the St. Lawrence came in the 1890s. In the following decades the idea of a power project became inseparable from the seaway – in fact, the various governments involved believed that the deeper water created by the hydro project were necessary to make the seaway channels feasible. American proposals for development up to and including the First World War met with little interest from the Canadian federal government. But the two national government submitted St. Lawrence plans, and the Wooten-Bowden Report and the International Joint Commission both recommended the project in the early 1920s. Although the Liberal Mackenzkie King was reluctant to proceed, in part of because of opposition to the project in Quebec, in 1932 the two countries inked a treaty. This failed to receive the assent of Congress. Subsequent attempts to forge an agreement in the 1930s came to naught as the Ontario government of Mitchell Hepburn, along with Quebec, got in the way. By 1941, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister King made an executive agreement to build the joint hydro and navigation works, but this too failed to receive the assent of Congress. Proposals for the seaway were met with resistance from railway and port lobbyists in the United States.
In the post-1945 years, proposals to introduce tolls still could not induce the U.S. Congress to approve the project. Growing impatient, and with Ontario desperate for hydro-electricity, Canada began to consider "going it alone." This seized the imagination of Canadians, engendering a groundswell of St. Lawrence nationalism. Fueled by this support, the Canadian Louis St. Laurent government decided over the course of 1951 and 1952 to construct the waterway alone, combined with a hydro project (which would prove to be the joint responsibility of Ontario and New York – as a power dam would change the water levels, it required bilateral cooperation). However, the Truman and Eisenhower administrations considered it a national security threat for Canada to alone control the deep waterway, and used various means – such as delaying and stalling the Federal Power Commission license for the power aspect – until Congress in early 1954 approved an American seaway role via the Wiley act. Canada, out of concern for the ramifications of the bilateral relationship, reluctantly acquiesced.
In the United States, Dr. N.R. Danelian was the Director of the 13 volume St. Lawrence Seaway Survey in the U.S. Department of Navigation (1932-1963), worked with the U.S. Secretary of State on Canadian-United States issues regarding the Seaway and worked for over 15 years on passage of the Seaway Act. He later became President of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Association to further the interests of the Seaway development to benefit the American Heartland.
The seaway opened in 1959 and cost $638 million in Canadian dollars, $336.2 million of which was paid by the U.S. government. Queen Elizabeth II and President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally opened the Seaway with a short cruise aboard Royal Yacht Britannia after addressing the crowds in St. Lambert, Quebec.
The seaway’s opening is often credited with making the Erie Canal obsolete, thus setting off the severe economic decline of several cities in Upstate New York.
Lock and Channel Dimensions
The size of vessels that can traverse the seaway is limited by the size of locks. Locks on the St. Lawrence and on the Welland Canal are 766 ft (233.5 m) long, 80 ft (24.4 m) wide, and 30 ft (9.14 m) deep. The maximum allowed vessel size is slightly smaller: 740 ft (225.6 m) long, 78 ft (23.8 m) wide, and 26.5 ft (8.1 m) deep; many vessels designed for use on the Great Lakes following the opening of the seaway were built to the maximum size permissible by the locks, known informally as Seawaymax or Seaway-Max. Large vessels of the lake freighter fleet are built on the lakes and cannot travel downstream beyond the Welland Canal. On the remaining Great Lakes, these ships are constrained only by the largest lock on the Great Lakes Waterway, the Poe Lock at the Soo Locks, which is 1,200 ft (365.8 m) long, 110 ft (33.5 m) wide and 32 ft (9.8 m) deep.
A plan and side view of a generic, empty
canal lock. A lock chamber separated
from the rest of the canal by an upper pair
and a lower pair of mitre gates. The gates
in each pair close against each other at an
18° angle to approximate an arch against
the water pressure on the "upstream" side
of the gates when the water level on the
"downstream" side is lower.
A vessel’s draft is another obstacle to passage on the seaway, particularly in connecting waterways such as the St. Lawrence River. The depth in the channels of the seaway is 41 ft (12.5 m) (Panamax-depth) downstream of Quebec City, 35 ft (10.7 m) between Quebec City and Deschaillons, 37 ft (11.3 m) to Montreal, and 27 ft (8.2 m) upstream of Montreal. Channel depths and limited lock sizes mean that only 10% of ocean-going ships can traverse the entire seaway. Proposals to expand the seaway, dating from as early as the 1960s, have been rejected as too costly, and environmentally and economically unsound. Lower water levels in the Great Lakes have also posed problems for some vessels in recent years.
While the seaway is currently (2010) mostly used for shipping bulk cargo, the possibility of its use for large-scale container shipping is under consideration as well. If the project goes ahead, feeder ships would take containers from the port of Oswego on Lake Ontario in upstate New York to Melford International Terminal in Nova Scotia for transfer to larger ocean-going ships.
Basic Construction and Operation
All pound locks have three elements:
- A watertight chamber connecting the upper and lower canals, and large enough to enclose one or more boats. The position of the chamber is fixed, but its water level can vary.
- A gate (often a pair of "pointing" half-gates) at each end of the chamber. A gate is opened to allow a boat to enter or leave the chamber; when closed, the gate is watertight.
- A set of lock gear to empty or fill the chamber as required. This is usually a simple valve (traditionally, a flat panel (paddle) lifted by manually winding a rack and pinion mechanism) which allows water to drain into or out of the chamber; larger locks may use pumps.
The principle of operating a lock is simple. For instance, if a boat travelling downstream finds the lock already full of water:
- The entrance gates are opened and the boat sails in.
- The entrance gates are closed.
- A valve is opened, this lowers the boat by draining water from the chamber.
- The exit gates are opened and the boat sails out.
If the lock were empty, the boat would have had to wait 5 to 10 minutes while the lock was filled. For a boat travelling upstream, the process is reversed; the boat enters the empty lock, and then the chamber is filled by opening a valve that allows water to enter the chamber from the upper level. The whole operation will usually take between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the size of the lock and whether the water in the lock was originally set at the boat’s level.
Boaters approaching a lock are usually pleased to meet another boat coming towards them, because this boat will have just exited the lock on their level and therefore set the lock in their favour — saving about 5 to 10 minutes. However, this is not true for staircase locks, where it is quicker for boats to go through in convoy.
History of Canals
- Canals were important for industrial development. The greatest stimulus to canal system building came from the Industrial Revolution with its need for cheap transport of unprecedented quantities of raw materials and manufactured items.
In Europe, particularly Britain and Ireland, and then in the young United States and the Canadian colonies, inland canals preceded the development of railroads during the earliest phase of the Industrial Revolution. The opening of the Sankey Canal in 1757, followed by the Bridgewater Canal in 1761, which halved the price of coal in Liverpool and Manchester, respectively, triggered a period of "canal mania" in Britain so that between 1760 and 1820 over one hundred canals were built.
The Blackstone Canal in Massachusetts and Rhode Island fulfilled a similar role in the early industrial revolution between 1828–48. The Blackstone Valley was a major contributor of the American Industrial Revolution where Samuel Slater built his first mill.
In addition to their transportation purposes, parts of the United States, particularly in the Northeast, had enough fast-flowing rivers that water power was the primary means of powering factories (usually textile mills) until after the American Civil War. For example, Lowell, Massachusetts, considered to be "The Cradle of the American Industrial Revolution," has 6 miles (9.7 km) of canals, built from around 1790 to 1850, that provided water power and a means of transportation for the city. The output of the system is estimated at 10,000 horsepower. Other cities with extensive power canal systems include Lawrence, Massachusetts, Holyoke, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Augusta, Georgia.
The 19th Century
Competition from the railway network from the 1830s, and in the 20th century the roads, made the smaller canals obsolete for most commercial transportation, and many of the British canals fell into decay. Only the Manchester Ship Canal and the Aire and Calder Canal bucked this trend. Yet in other countries canals grew in size as construction techniques improved. During the 19th century in the US, the length of canals grew from 100 miles (161 km) to over 4,000, with a complex network making the Great Lakes navigable, in conjunction with Canada, although some canals were later drained and used as railroad rights-of-way.
In the United States, navigable canals reached into isolated areas and brought them in touch with the world beyond. By 1825 the Erie Canal, 363 miles (584 km) long with 82 locks, opened up a connection from the populated Northeast to the Great Lakes. Settlers flooded into regions serviced by such canals, since access to markets was available. The Erie Canal (as well as other canals) was instrumental in lowering the differences in commodity prices between these various markets across America. The canals caused price convergence between different regions because of their reduction in transportation costs, which allowed Americans to ship and buy goods from farther distances for much lower prices compared to before. Ohio built many miles of canal, Indiana had working canals for a few decades, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River system until replaced by a channelized river waterway.
Three major canals with very different purposes were built in what is now Canada. The first Welland Canal, which opened in 1829 between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, bypassing Niagara Falls and the Lachine Canal (1825) which allowed ships to skirt the nearly impassable rapids on the St. Lawrence River at Montreal were built for commerce. The Rideau Canal, completed in 1832, connects Ottawa, on the Ottawa River to Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario. The Rideau Canal was built as a result of the War of 1812 to provide military transportation between the British colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada as an alternative to part of the St. Lawrence River which was susceptible to blockade by the United States.
In France, a steady linking of all the river systems—Rhine, Rhône, Saône and Seine—and the North Sea was boosted in 1879 by the establishment of the Freycinet gauge which specified the minimum size of locks so that canal traffic doubled in the first decades of the 20th century.
Many notable sea canals were completed in this period, starting with the Suez Canal (1869), and the Kiel Canal (1897), which carries tonnage many times that of most other canals, though the Panama Canal was not opened until 1914.
In the 19th century, a number of canals were built in Japan including the Biwako canal and the Tone canal. These canals were partially built with the help of engineers from the Netherlands and other countries.
Large scale ship canals such as the Panama Canal and Suez Canal continue to operate for cargo transportation; as do European barge canals. Due to globalization, they are becoming increasingly important, resulting in expansion projects such as the Panama Canal expansion project.
The narrow early industrial canals, however, have ceased to carry significant amounts of trade and many have been abandoned to navigation, but may still be used as a system for transportation of untreated water. In some cases railways have been built along the canal route, an example being the Croydon Canal.
A movement that began in Britain and France to use the early industrial canals for pleasure boats, such as hotel barges, has spurred rehabilitation of stretches of historic canals. In some cases abandoned canals such as the Kennet and Avon Canal have been restored and are now used by pleasure boaters. In Britain canal side housing has also proven popular in recent years.
The Seine-Nord Europe Canal is being developed into a major transportation waterway, linking France with Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
Canals have found another use in the 21st century, as easements for the installation of fibre optic telecommunications network cabling avoiding having them buried in roadways while facilitating access and reducing the hazard of being damaged from digging equipment.
Canals are still used to provide water for agriculture. An extensive canal system exists within the Imperial Valley in the Southern California desert to provide irrigation to agriculture within the area.
Supporting Heads of State
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born 21 April 1926) is the constitutional monarch of sixteen independent sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. As Head of the Commonwealth, she is the figurehead of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations; as the British monarch, she is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Elizabeth was educated privately at home. Her father, George VI, became King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India in 1936. She began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, in which she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. After the war and Indian independence, George VI abandoned the title of Emperor of India, and the evolution of the British Empire into the Commonwealth accelerated. In 1947, Elizabeth made the first of many tours around the Commonwealth and married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Elizabeth and Philip have four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward.
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was a five-star general in the United States Army and the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961, and the last to be born in the 19th century. During World War II, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe, with responsibility for planning and supervising the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45, from the Western Front. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.
A Republican, Eisenhower entered the 1952 presidential race to counter the non-interventionism of Sen. Robert A. Taft, and to crusade against "Communism, Korea and corruption". He won by a landslide, defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson and ending two decades of the New Deal Coalition holding the White House. As President, Eisenhower concluded negotiations with China to end the Korean War. His New Look, a policy of nuclear deterrence, gave priority to inexpensive nuclear weapons while reducing the funding for the other military forces to keep pressure on the Soviet Union and reduce federal deficits at the same time. He began NASA to compete against the Soviet Union in the space race. His intervention during the Suez Crisis was later acknowledged by Eisenhower himself as his greatest foreign policy mistake. Near the end of his term, the Eisenhower Administration was embarrassed by the U-2 incident and was planning the Bay of Pigs invasion.
On the domestic front, he covertly helped remove Joseph McCarthy from power but otherwise left most political actions to his Vice President, Richard Nixon. He was a moderate conservative who continued the New Deal policies, and in fact enlarged the scope of Social Security, and signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. Though passive on civil rights at first, he sent federal troops to enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling to desegregate schools. He was the first term-limited president in accordance with the 22nd Amendment.
Please take time to further explore more about Saint Lawrence Seaway,
Lock (Water Transport), Canal, Great Lakes, Elizabeth II of the United
Kingdom, and Dwight D. Eisenhower by accessing the Wikipedia articles
referenced below. In most cases, the text in the body of this post has
been selectively excerpted from the articles; footnotes and hyperlinks
have been removed for readability…
Other Events on this Day:
Daniel Defoe’s classic novel Robinson Crusoe, recounting the tale of a shipwrecked sailor who spends nearly three decades on a deserted tropical island, is published by William Taylor in London.
The United States declares war on Spain in the Spanish-American War.
U.S. and Soviet forces meet at the Elbe River in Central Europe as World War II draws to a close.
The St. Lawrence Seaway, linking the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes, opens. This is the common name for a system of locks, canals and channels that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes.
The Pioneer 10 spacecraft crosses Pluto’s orbit, continuing its voyage into space beyond the solar system.
The Soviet Union releases a letter sent by Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov to 10-year-old American schoolgirl Samantha Smith, who had written him the previous year to express her fears about nuclear war between the Cold War superpowers. Andropov invites Smith and her parents to visit the Soviet Union, which they will do in July.
The Hubble Space Telescope, named for American astronomer Edwin Hubble, is put into orbit around the Earth by the space shuttle Discovery, beginning its mission to collect data and photograph the most distant reaches of space. Exactly 21 years into its mission, the Hubble continues to orbit the Earth every 97 minutes.
Dates and events based on:
William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)
Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: Saint Lawrence Seaway…
Wikipedia: Lock (Water Transport)…
Wikipedia: Great Lakes…
Wikipedia: Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom…
Wikipedia: Dwight D. Eisenhower…
Brainy Quote: CANALS Quotes…
Other Posts on related Topics:
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: The Opening of the Panama Canal…
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: The Opening of the Erie Canal…