This richly illustrated and engagingly written book tells the story of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal from its origins in George Washington's decision to link the nation's new capital with the western frontier; through the beginning of construction in 1828 (fatefully, on the same day that the cornerstone of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad was set); to the "completion" of the project. Planned to go as far as Ohio and to take twelve years in construction, the Canal company's ambitions were scaled back after 22 years of toil, $14 million in expense, and the bankruptcy of several contractors took them only as far as Cumberland, at the eastern shed of the Alleghenies.
Describing in detail how the C&O operated in its heyday, Elizabeth Kytle takes the story through the shut-down of operations in 1924, after the Canal was purchased by its competitor, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and the efforts that resulted in its preservation as a National Historical Park in 1971. Enriching this narrative, the book also provides oral history accounts of eleven men and women who worked on or grew up along the banks of the Canal.
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