There's been a lot of talk this past week about the Suez Canal. The container ship Even Given was stuck for days, costing companies billions of dollars in lost revenue. It's been a real crisis at the Suez Canal. Did you know that in the 19th century, Portland had a big canal? It was called the Cumberland and Oxford Canal, and you could take a boat from Portland all the way to Harrison! The canal was opened in 1832 and pretty much followed the Presumpscot River going through Standish, Windham, Gorham, and Westbrook. Its total distance was 38 miles and the canal included 27 locks, with Songo Lock still being used today. The boats that traveled the canal were not wicked big like the one currently stuck in the Suez Canal. And we don't have reports of any boats getting stuck in the old C&O Canal, but we do know a barrel or two of brandy were "lost" along the way on a few voyages. In fact, that's how Brandy Pond in Naples got its name!
The Canal was used until the railroads were built about 150 years ago. Check out this great video on the history of the old Cumberland and Oxford Canal. I say we bring it back-the tourists would love it!
Cargos included lumber, masts, barrel hoops and staves, boxmaking shook, and firewood from the interior to Portland. Apples were an important agricultural product of the area; and Oriental Powder Company mills adjacent to the canal in Windham manufactured nearly 25% of the Union gunpowder supply for the American Civil War.[
You can see here in the Stroudwater area where the Canal was and where the Tow Path was for horses to haul the boats up the canal. It's a great place to go take a walk.
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