Lecture: Canal Fever in New Hampshire and Vermont

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New England had an intense but short-lived fascination with canal building in the first decades of the 1800s, when travel by road was slow and arduous and railroads had yet to be developed. Waterways offered a faster, easier way of transporting goods and people. Navigational improvements on both the Merrimack and Connecticut Rivers presented great opportunities to New Hampshire and Vermont, setting off a brief period of canal fever. Great plans were laid to link Lake Champlain with the Connecticut and Merrimack Rivers, and even to the harbor at Portsmouth. Somewhat unexpectedly, the coming of the railroads dampened these dreams, and it was steel rails that ultimately linked these watersheds, not canals and locks. This richly illustrated talk by transportation historian Frank J. “Jay” Barrett Jr. will explore this important slice of regional history.