Canals in old New England.
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Canals in New England

Before there were highways and railways there were canals. Travel and transportation in the New England interior had always followed the rivers in early times, since the few interior roads that existed were of poor quality and horse-and-wagon transport was always slow. Beginning in the late 1700s New Englanders started constructing canals to link the existing rivers and ponds, making inland transport of lumber, granite, and other commercial goods much easier. Eventually many of these canals were abandoned as the rail and then road systems became reliable. But for several decades in the early 1800s, canals functioned as major transportation routes in New England.

Historic descriptions of New England canals may be found in the following entries from Hayward's New England Gazetteer of 1839.


Maine Canals


New Hampshire Canals


Vermont Canals


Massachusetts Canals


Connecticut Canals


Rhode Island Canals


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