Updated 12 / 12 / 204



The Patowmack (Potomac) Canal opens, surveyed by George Washington to circumnavigate the Great Falls of the Potomac River.

U. S. canal engineer Colonel John Christian Senf is born in Germany. ** English canal engineer William Weston is born. ** The Duke of Bridgewater tours the Canal du Midi and the Garonne. ** Construction begins on England's Sankey Brook Navigation.


Aug 9
Scottish canal engineer Thomas Telford is born in Westerkirk, Langholm, Dumfriesshire.

Part of the Sankey Brook Navigation is opened.


Canal proponent Elkanah Watson is born in New York.


Building begins on the Duke of Bridgewater's Canal in northern England, from Worsley to Manchester. The Duke hires James Brindley to assist John Gilbert in the construction.


The Sankey Brook Navigation is completed. ** James Brindley designs England's Barton Aqueduct. ** The Bridgewater Canal opens from Worsley to Manchester.


David Rittenhouse and Doctor William Smith survey a canal route from Reading,
Pennsylvania, to Middletown, linking Philadelphia with Pennsylvania's interior, which will later become the Union Canal.


George Washington inspects the route for a Dismal Swamp canal by canoe. ** U. S. Canal engineer James Geddes is born near Carlisle, Pennsylvania.


English architect and canal engineer Benjamin Henry Latrobe is born. ** John Roberts, grandfather of canal engineer Nathan Roberts, is killed serving under Sir William Pepperel in the French and Indian War.


Inventor Robert Fulton is born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. ** Loammi Baldwin becomes a land surveyor and engineer. ** The Virginia legislature begins discussing a waterway west from Richmond.


James Brindley begins building the Trent and Mersey section of England's Grand Trunk Canal.


New York State's royal governor Sir Henry Moore suggests improving the stretch of the Mohawk River between Schenectady and Fort Stanwix. Nothing comes of it.


U. S. canal engineer Benjamin Wright is born in Wethersfield, Connecticut. ** George Washington inspects the proposed route for a James River and Kanawha Canal. ** A second survey is made for a canal linking Philadelphia with Pennsylvania's interior.


Irish immigrant Christopher Colles, recently-arrived from his native Ireland, gives a series of lectures on lock navigation, in Philadelphia. ** Benjamin Franklin proposes a Susquehanna Schuylkill canal to the mayor of Philadelphia. ** George Washington again inspects the proposed route for a James River and Kanawha Canal. ** English canal engineer James Brindley, 56, dies of diabetes in Turnhurst, Staffordshire.


Virginia's Patowmack Company is incorporated to build a canal around the Great Falls of the Potomac River. ** George Washington once again inspects the proposed route for a James River and Kanawha Canal.


Jul 28
Canal engineer Nathan Smith Roberts is born to New Hampshire farmer Benjamin Roberts in Piles Grove, New Jersey.


Jun 10
Canal engineer David Stanhope Bates is born on a farm between Morristown and Parsippany, New Jersey.


May 29

Abolitionist and Erie Canal supervising engineer Myron Holley is born in Salisbury, Connecticut.


Elkanah Watson travels to Europe for five years, during which time he will study its canals. ** Improvements are begun on the St. Lawrence River, including a number of short canals.


U. S. canal engineer Loammi Baldwin II is born.


George Washington inspects lock construction on the Susquehanna and Schuylkill Canal, at Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania.

The general assembly of Maryland grants a charter to build a canal along the route of the lower Susquehanna River. The Proprietors of the Susquehanna (Port Deposit) Canal is incorporated. ** Construction begins on New York State's Little Falls Canal.


The New York State legislature recommends a plan by Colles for improving Mohawk River navigation. George Washington visits Fort Stanwix (Rome), proposes canals on the Hudson and Mohawk rivers.


Jan 5
The James River Company is formed, with George Washington as honorary president, to build locks around Richmond, Virginia.

Colles receives $125 to implement his plan. He publishes his proposals.

Aug 20
The James River and Kanawha Canal Company is organized.

Louisiana's Carondelet Canal opens. ** Elkanah Watson returns to the U. S., meets with George Washington to discuss a Potomac-Ohio River canal. ** Washington is elected president of the Patowmack Canal Company. ** Spain builds a Louisiana canal from New Orleans east to the Mississippi River, to avoid the delta. ** Charters are granted to the James River Company and the Patowmack Company for canals on the James and Potomac rivers.


Jan 1
98 citizens of Brunswick and Bath, Maine, sign a petition for a canal from the head of the New Meadows River into Merrymeeting Bay.

James Rumsey resigns his post as chief engineer of the Patowmack Canal. ** The South Carolina legislature authorizes a tow-path canal to connect the Santee and Cooper rivers above Charleston. ** Construction begins on the Patowmack Canal. George Washington serves as honorary chairman of the company.


Thomas Jefferson takes an eight-day trip on the Canal du Midi.

A charter is granted to the Dismal Swamp Canal Company. Construction begins.


An inclined plane is used for the first time to raise canal boats, on England's Ketley Canal.


The James River Canal is completed, running seven miles to the west of Richmond, Virginia. ** The lower three locks on the Patowmack Canal are completed.


Mar 5
The Maine legislature authorizes a corporation to build a canal in the Bath area.

Mar 21
Canal engineer David Bates Douglass is born in Pompton, New Jersey, to Deacon Nathaniel Douglass and Sarah Bates of Newark.

Canal engineer Canvass White is born in Whitestown, New York.

The British government may have devised plans for a military canal between Montréal and Kingston, by way of the Rideau River, this year.


District of Maine settlers petition the Massachusetts General Court, suggesting a canal from Sebago Pond to Portland. ** Companies are chartered for a Schuylkill and Susquehanna Canal, and a Delaware and Schuylkill Canal.


Mar 31
The Dismal Swamp Canal Company advertises for contractors in the Gazette of the United States.

The second canal built in the United States opens at South Hadley, Massachusetts, to bypass a dam on the Connecticut River. Christopher Colles conducted the initial surveys but was not chosen to build locks. ** The Western Inland Lock Navigation Company is formed, by General Philip Schuyler, to build a three-mile Little Falls, New York, canal and another linking the Mohawk River with Wood Creek. Elkanah Watson is named to the commission. ** The small canal in Maine is completed. ** Construction begins on the Conewago Canal bypassing the York Haven falls of Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River. ** Construction begins on the Schuylkill and Susquehanna and the Delaware and Schuylkill canals. The proprietors of the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Navigation Company invite English canal engineer William Weston to come to the U. S. as a consultant. ** The Proprietors of Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River is formed.


William Weston arrives in Philadelphia.

Mar 9
The Massachusetts General Court issues a charter to Charles Barrett to build a canal along Maine's Georges River.

Massachusetts governor John Hancock incorporates the Middlesex Canal to connect the state's Merrimack and Medford rivers, assigning James Sullivan and others as proprietors.

President Washington travels to Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, to inspect lock construction on the Susquehanna and Schuylkill (Union) Canal.

Construction begins on the Dismal Swamp Canal and on South Carolina's Santee and Cooper Canal. ** The first canal inclined plane is built, on Massachusetts' Middlesex Canal, to bypass the falls at South Hadley.


May 2
Construction begins on the Blodgett Canal, bypassing the Amoskeag Falls of the Merrimack River, at Manchester, New Hampshire, and on Massachusetts' Middlesex Canal, between Lowell and Boston.

Fulton obtains British patent #1988 for a double inclined plane system to be used to raise canal boats without locks. ** Loammi Baldwin is named Chief Engineer on the Middlesex Canal. ** The Dismal Swamp Canal's locks are completed. ** Retired Secretary of War General Henry Knox buys the Georges River Canal locks from Charles Barrett.


The Little Falls Canal is completed. ** The South Hadley Canal opens. ** The James River Canal is enlarged to permit the passage of freight boats. ** U. S. Canal engineer John Bloomfield Jervis is born in Huntington, New York. ** The Massachusetts General Court charters the Cumberland Canal Company and the Falmouth Canal Company. ** Thomas Telford designs Wales' Pontcysyllte Aqueduct across the River Dee, on the Llangollen Branch Canal.


The Western Inland company receives a $15,000 loan from the state. ** Fulton publishes his Treatise on Canal Navigation. ** Benjamin Latrobe emigrates to the U. S. General Knox hires Life Wilson to make repairs on the Georges River Canal locks damaged by floods.


The Conewago Canal is completed. ** General Schuyler and William Weston explore upper New York State for canal routes. ** The Merrimack River canal system is completed. ** The Canadian government builds a canal at Sault Ste Marie, bypassing rapids between lakes Huron and Michigan. ** The Western Inland Lock Navigation Company builds the Rome Canal to replace an Indian portage connecting New York's Wood Creek with the Mohawk River near Little Falls. ** Efforts are made to revive Philip Schuyler's plans for a Stillwater Canal, from that village to the Hudson, but nothing
comes of them.


Pennsylvania passes a law to control improvements on the Susquehanna River by anyone other than itself.

© 1999 David Minor / Eagles Byte