Cape Cod Canal

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The Cape Cod Canal is an artificial waterway traversing the narrow neck of land that joins Cape Cod to mainland Massachusetts.

Part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, the canal is roughly 17.4 miles (28 km) long (approximately 7 miles, or 11.3 km, of which are cut through land)[1] and connects Cape Cod Bay in the north to Buzzards Bay in the south. The 540-foot (164.6 meter) width of the canal is spanned by the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge and two highway bridges—the Bourne and the Sagamore. Traffic lights govern the approach of vessels over 65 feet (19.8 m), and are located at either end of the canal.

The Massachusetts Maritime Academy is located on Taylors Point at the south entrance of the canal.

Contents

Early history

The idea of constructing such a canal was first considered by Miles Standish of the Plymouth Colony in 1623, and Pilgrims scouted the low-lying stretch of land between the Manomet and the Scusset rivers for potential routes. William Bradford established the trading post of Aptuxcet in 1627 at the portage between the rivers. Trade with the Native Americans of Narragansett Bay and the Dutch of New Netherlands prospered and was a major factor enabling the Pilgrims to pay off their indebtedness.[2] In 1697 the General Court of Massachusetts considered the first formal proposal to build the canal, but apparently took no action. More energetic planning with surveys took place repeatedly in 1776 (by George Washington), 1791, 1803, 1818, 1824–1830, and 1860. None of these efforts came to fruition. The first attempts at actually building a canal did not take place until the late 19th century; earlier planners either ran out of money or were overwhelmed by the project's size.

The engineers finally decided which route through the hillsides to take by connecting and widening the Manomet and Scusset Rivers.[3]

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