Dismal Swamp Canal 1

The Canal through the Great Dismal Swamp is a small part of the Intracoastal Waterway on Americas East Coast, linking New York City to Floridas southern tip. Between Albemarle Sound, North Carolina, and Norfolk, Virginia you have the choice of two navigable routes: Currituck Sound with the Albemarle Chesapeake Canal, favoured by most of the snowbirds, and the Dismal Swamp Canal, chosen by a few more adventurous navigators. You leave the Albemarle Sound sailing up the broad Pasquotank River to Elizabeth City, sleepy small town America, dreaming of a more glamorous past. Going round the bend in EC the river suddenly becomes narrow meandering over 15 miles through jungle like vegetation up to South Mills Lock, where the actual man made ditch begins. 30 straight miles further north you end up in Deep Creek Lock, the end of the canal and the link to Elizabeth River and thus Norfolk, Virginia. While planning our cruise still in Germany, we were attracted by the magic of the name: Great Dismal Swamp. This was one promise of adventure we definitely wouldn't want to miss. "Dī ya wanna know ībout the history oī tha waterway?" Bob, the lock attendant, has plenty of time. We are the only boat in the chamber, which opens only twice a day anyway. Things are different here at the boarder between North Carolina and Virginia, two of the former Confederates. Well, blue skies, no need to hurry, we love to listen. "Originally, the Swamp spread over approximately 2200 miles. However, thousands of acres have been cleared and drained for cultivation, reducing itīs size to a present 600 square miles, engulfing nearly 300,000 acres in a southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina National Wildlife Refuge. Its riches are cypress and gum trees, cedars and juniper. 203 different species of birds have been reported along with bears, otters, deer and turtles. Its name was given to it by a late Confederate General, who obviously suffered from all the moskitoes, snakes and other bloodthirsty animals, which abound here. Promise of immense profit from harvesting lumber here, gave reason to establish a net of waterways throughout every courner of the Swamp, the only one being left over by changes of fortune and time being this very canal. By the way, the first to come up with the idea and do some surveying, was General George Washington in 1763, when he still was a moderately successful entrepeneur and not the celebrity of the Revolutionary War. In 1790 two Canal Companies were founded and the opening ceremony of the first man made waterway in America took place in 1805. There were 8 locks to begin with, continuous dredging reduced that number to two. Its peak is still 20 ft above mean sea level. The ditch is 30 statute miles long, 50 ft wide and the guaranteed depth is 6 ft. Whatīs your draught?" "5 ― I think." "You`re lucky, we had so much rain last week, there are about 8 ft everywhere now. No problem for you."

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