THE MOR­RIS CANAL AND THE AGE OF IN­GE­NU­ITY

Canal Boat - - News -

As the canal net­work was spread­ing across Bri­tain, the same was hap­pen­ing in the east­ern U.S. But whereas (for ex­am­ple) our Hud­der­s­field Canal needs to rise and fall some 700ft al­to­gether as it crosses the Pen­nines, the Mor­ris Canal’s route across New Jersey be­tween the Delaware and Hud­son rivers re­quired more than 1600ft of climb­ing and de­scend­ing. The re­sult was a route with no fewer than 23 in­clined plane boat lifts. The book de­scribes the strug­gles to de­sign a re­li­able in­cline amid fi­nan­cial prob­lems on Wall Street, the even­tual com­ple­tion and en­large­ment of the canal, the life afloat and the de­cline. In the 1860s it was car­ry­ing al­most a mil­lion tons of coal a year; at the end of the cen­tury com­pe­ti­tion from the rail­ways had al­most killed it. By the 1920s the tech­no­log­i­cal mar­vel had been re­duced to a few for­got­ten relics. In some ways it’s a dif­fer­ent story from our Bri­tish canals; in oth­ers it’s very sim­i­lar.

The Mor­ris Canal and the Age of In­ge­nu­ity, Kevin W Wright, £25, Fonthill Me­dia, fonthill.com, 978-1-63499-004-2

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