Portage

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{land, century, early}
{ship, engine, design}
{language, word, form}
{island, water, area}
{water, park, boat}
{line, north, south}
{city, large, area}
{@card@, make, design}
{mi², represent, 1st}

Portage or portaging refers to the practice of carrying watercraft or cargo over land to avoid river obstacles, or between two bodies of water. A place where this carrying occurs is also called a portage; a person doing the carrying is called a porter.

The English word portage is derived from the French noun "portage" and verb "porter" : to carry. Early French explorers ventured in New France and French Louisiana encountered many rapids and cascades. The Amerindians carried their canoes over land to avoid river obstacles. The French coureurs des bois (or voyageurs) and trappers used the French word "portage".

Over time, important portages were sometimes upgraded to canals with locks, and even portage railways. Primitive portaging generally involves carrying the vessel and its contents across the portage in multiple trips. Small canoes can be portaged by carrying them inverted over one's shoulders and the center thwart may be designed in the style of a yoke to facilitate this. Historically, voyageurs often employed a tump line on their head to carry a load on their back.

Portages can be many kilometers in length (as with the 19 km Methye Portage and the 8.5-mile (13.7 km) Grand Portage, both in North America) and often cover hilly or difficult terrain. Some portages involve very little elevation change, such as the very short Mavis Grind in Shetland, which crosses an isthmus.

Contents

History

In Europe

Greco-Roman world

The Diolkos was a paved trackway in Ancient Greece which enabled boats to be moved overland across the Isthmus of Corinth from the Gulf of Corinth to the Saronic Gulf. The 6 km (3.7 mi) to 8.5 km (5.3 mi) long roadway was a rudimentary form of railway,[1] and operated from ca. 600 BC until the middle of the 1st century AD.[2] The scale on which the Diolkos combined the two principles of the railway and the overland transport of ships remained unique in antiquity.[3]

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