(David Demero, C & O National Historical Park official handbook, 1991)
The canal was built mainly with hand tools and horse power. Construction did not simply begin at one end and progress steadily to the other end, leaving a finished canal in its wake. Instead, the job was let to dozens of contractors in 1/2 mile sections, and, for the most part, they worked simultaneously. Their activities would not have been performed concurrently or so close together, but they are shown together here to make portraying this work easier.
In the distance the tunnel is being dug (1). Blasting was often necessary to clear a path for the canal. After trees were cut or broken (2), stumps were pulled out with huge, horse-powered winches (3). Root-cutting plows (4) scraped the surface in preparation for digging (5), berm-building (6), and puddling with waterproof clay (7). Cut stone (8), pre-built lock gates (9), and iron hardware were shipped to the site, where workers constructed aqueducts (10), feeder dams (11), guard locks (12), culverts (13), retaining walls (14), lift locks (15), waste weirs (16), and stop locks (17).
Questions for Drawing 1
1. If the canal were being constructed today, what machines would have been helpful? On which jobs would they have been used?
2. Engineers designed the canal to give lockkeepers as much control over the river as they could. What do you think each of the following elements did, given their names and locations?
* The image on the screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a high resolution version of Drawing 1 but be aware that it will take about 30 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.