Augusta Canal Term Paper

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Augusta Canal. There are eight references used for this paper.

Augusta, Georgia has been a thriving textile center for over a hundred years. It is interesting to look at the history of the Augusta Canal, as well as its influence in the past and present.

Beginning Ideas

Southerners during the 1830's and 1840's were concerned that the cotton states were dependent on the industrialization of the Northern states financially, and looked for ways to make their cities prosperous. In "Augusta, Georgia, the city financed the construction of one of the earliest power and transportation canals in the South, which created an industrial base still important to the area's economy (

While construction did not actually begin until 1845, the concept of "harnessing the Savannah River and building a power canal had been considered as early as 1828, when the Augusta editor to the Georgia Courier debated the possibility of a power canal (" Due to the rich cotton trade, Augusta was seen as a "gateway to the frontier and as trade center for the exterior (" However, travel and trade was difficult due to heavy congestion on streets, an overabundance of goods in the warehouses, and overloaded barges. Other cities continued to prosper during this time while Augusta began to stagnate, leading to efforts such as riverside warehouses and additional roads. These efforts had little effect on the economy, and as mill villages prospered, speculations arose about "harnessing the falls of the Savannah, a few miles above the city, and thus providing power sufficient for innumerable mills.

Strong Supporter

In 1844, Henry H. Cumming, son of Augusta's first intendent and a prominent lawyer, took it upon himself to ascertain the feasibility of a canal (" Cumming was not only part of a distinguished family, he was also director of Georgia Railroad and Banking Company. Cumming's "direct ties with Georgia's economic and political hierarchy foreshadowed the success of his canal plan. Once convinced that the cure for Augusta's economic ills rested on the construction of the transportation and power canal, Henry Cumming would manage its affairs from conception to conclusion (" survey was ordered in September 1844 privately by Cumming, and the results proved the location provided "more than enough energy to power the cotton mills, much to the delight of Cumming (" Cumming realized the canal project would exceed his own wealth, and on January 9, 1845 asked for public support. The response was favorable leading "William D'Antignac, president of the Bank of Augusta to pledge funds for a platting of the canal route, and Senator John P. King to give the project his blessing and the support of the Georgia Railroad Banking Company. In all, the city's four banks pledged $4,000 to pay for a permanent survey, and Editor James W. Jones gave his support as well by filling each issue of the Chronicle & Sentinel with articles describing canals and textiles mills throughout the nation ("

Construction Timeline

The first level of the canal was built between 1845-1847, and the second and third levels were constructed from 1849-1850. The first enlargement of the canal took place between 1855-1857, while a major enlargement according from 1872-1875, and from the period of 1934-1941, a WPA Revitalization occurred (

The "Augusta power and navigation canal was projected in order to make Augusta a manufacturing center. By the 1880's, the canal was a success. It supplied waterpower for eight textile mills, three of which still operate hydroelectric plants ("

Historic Find

Two years ago, workers found a wild array of "ledgers, documents and files of Georgia Railroad and Banking Company in the basement vault of the First Union Building on Broad Street. Georgia Railroad was incorporated in 1833, and its banking division was responsible for financing the construction of the Augusta Canal and many of the factories that sprung up alongside it during the industrial revolution (Cline, Find)."

Economic Problems

Textile manufacturers "once dominated the Augusta Canal area. Cheap overseas apparel manufacturers have hurt the domestic textile industry, however (Bankston, Woes)." In 2001, the J.P. King Manufacturing Division of Spartan International, which was located along the Augusta Canal, closed their doors after over a hundred years in Augusta. The action put 306 employees out of work with no notice. Many of the employees were members of the same family, thus increasing the impact of the closure. The employees were aware the plant was having financial difficulties, but were not expecting such a drastic action. With the closure of King Manufacturing, the only manufacturer left on the canal is Avondale Mills' Sibley Plant.

The Augusta Canal Authority points out "one thing that made Augusta unique was they still had two mills producing textiles on the canal since the 1880's. The King building is historic and architecturally significant. It's part of the story of the canal and the early development of Augusta (Bankston, Woes)."


The adoption NAFTA has created financial problems for many textile and lumber businesses in Augusta. "Apparel manufacturers have been moving operations to Mexico since passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 lifted trade barriers between the United States, Mexico and Canada. Meanwhile, exports of Canadian lumber to the United States grew from 16.4 billion board feet in 1994 to 18.2 billion board feet by 1999, prompting complaints from domestic producers who say they can't compete without tariffs (Bankston, NAFTA)."

New Commerce

In 1998, Delta Air Lines detailed plans to build a "$3 million call reservation center on a 5-acre parcel on Brandenburg Properties, a 180-acre tract of prime commercial real estate sandwiched between River Watch Parkway and the Augusta Canal (Cline, Delta)." The canal-front property was "acquired from the city of Augusta by San Jose, California-based Brandenburg Properties in 1987 in a land swap (Cline, Delta)." The city council was consulted in 1992 by Brandenburg about "leasing public land between the canal and the river for a proposed River Shoals Golf Course and shopping mall (Cline, Delta)." Consultants for the Augusta Canal Authority suggested, however, that the land should be left unspoiled, forcing the company to cancel the golf project (Cline, Delta).

Toxic Soil

In early 1999, Georgia Power started to "exhume toxic soil around a Georgia Power Co. substation near the Augusta Canal. The contaminants included metal, coal tar, PCBs and petroleum by-products that had accumulated on the 0.61-acre, city-owned parcel over the past century (Pavey)."

The power company had attempted to acquire the land before the cleanup by "trading 0.36 acres of land near the city bus garage, but the Augusta Canal Authority did not want to part with land within the congressionally designated Augusta Canal National Heritage Area (Pavey, Soil Cleanup)."

Changes were made in 2001 concerning the cleanup plan. Those changes included "digging less material from an affected portion of the Augusta canal, and instead injecting hydrogen peroxide into the soil to neutralize the contaminants. The project included plans to eventually removed 120,000 tons of contaminated soil and other remediation efforts along almost a mile of the canal (Pavey, Continued Cleanup)."

National Site

The Augusta Canal has 8.5 miles of paths and recreation areas. In 1996, the canal was "named a National Heritage Site. A history of the canal, viewed through films and exhibits in the interpretive center, which opened last April, also is a history of Augusta, so closely are the two entwined. Visitors can take a tour of the canal on two replicas of Petersburg boats, cargo ships that once traversed the canal (Miller)."

The Canal Today

For over 125 years the canal has supplied waterpower to the city's textile mills and survives essentially intact, a credit to the engineers and men who built it ("

Presently, the canal is owned by the City of Augusta, and is responsible for supplying "water to textile mills and the…

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