Thursday, April 4 – Before we tell you about our cruise, we would like to wish our daughter, Kelly, a very Happy Birthday.
With the sun shining brightly in a wonder blue sky, it was a perfect day for a boat ride on the Augusta Heritage Canal. We were joined by Paul's brother, John and Karen, for the tour.
We started the historic tour by walking through the Augusta Canal Interpretive Center and viewing a short 10-minute film entitled "The Power of A Canal."
The Center tells the story of how a city used its waterways to reinvent itself and define its destiny.
Back in 1840, Augusta was in the mists of an economic depression and on the brink of losing much of its population. Something was needed to turn this mostly agrarian area into more productive region.
Spearheaded by native Augustan Henry H. Cumming, the Augusta Canal was built in 1845 as a source of power, water and transportation, the Augusta Canal is the only intact industrial canal in the American South in continuous use.
By 1847, a saw and grist mill and the Augusta Factory were built…the first of many that would eventually line the Canal. Mr. Cumming came up with the idea of building a canal to divert water from the Savanna River to be used to power cotton mills. The canal was dug in a year and a half using mostly slave labor. Can't imagine men digging this canal by hand, amazing!
Soon cotton mills began spring up along the canal. These became a great success and provided hundreds of jobs for people in the area. Augusta's population doubled in less than ten years.
Three of these mills remain today. All three are still producing electrical power using hydroelectric turbines. One is still in operation as a small finishing mill for cotton.
Also, stretching along two miles of the canal, the largest southern ammunition factory, America Powderworks, was built in 1880 to provide ammunition for the Confederate States during the Civil War. All that remains of that factory is the tall smoke stack. It is now a memorial to the thousands of lives lost during the war.
The canal ride is in electric boats (their batteries are charged from the turbines in the old cotton mills) built to resemble the old canal boats used to ship cotton along the canal in the mid-19th century. Each boat can hold about 50 people and has a captain and a historical guide on board. On board our boat today was the four of us and two other ladies with three small children. Nearly a private tour.
The ride takes about an hour and consists of an enjoyable cruise several miles up the canal and back.
Only two inches on each side. Our captain did a great job in getting us through without any damage or loss of life.
During the ride you pass three cotton mills, the munitions chimney, many of the historical spillways and dams used to keep the water in the canal, turtles, birds, and other wild life living in the waters of the canal.
We really enjoyed our cruise and highly recommend it to others visiting the Augusta area.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y'all back real soon. Have a great day!