THE MORRIS CANAL AND THE AGE OF INGENUITY
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