Skip to main content

tv   Ohio and Erie Canal  CSPAN  August 25, 2016 11:16am-11:29am EDT

11:16 am
>> the ohio and erie canal is part of a two-canal system put in place in the early years of america, built between 1825 and 1832. and basically, it's a water transportation route that connected lake erie with the ohio river, which was part of a larger idea, however. a national water transportation route. in the early days of america, we had 13 colonies all situated right along the atlantic seaboard. and our leaders at that time saw a problem. that problem was we needed that country to expand westward.
11:17 am
however, there was a big obstacle, the appalachian mountains. so our first president, george washington, happened to be a canal engineer, had an idea. that idea was to create this transcontinental water transportation route using two canals, the erie canal through new york state, the ohio and erie through the state of ohio, that would ultimately connect new york city, hudson river, erie canal, lake erie, ohio and erie canal, ohio river, mississippi, all the way to the gulf of mexico. in the early days of america, we didn't have a big federal government, so in terms of actually funding and implementing the ohio and erie canal depends on the states. fortunately, the state of new york had a champion there, fellow by the name of dewood clinton who became their canal commissioner and got the job done through the state of new york. then he rose to become the governor of the state of new york. ohio, facing a similar challenge in terms of funding, et cetera,
11:18 am
on the verge of bankruptcy, the canal project was worth more than all the lands in ohio. how do you fund this thing? believe it or not, the state of new york backed the bonds. it was dewitt clinton who came to ohio for the ground breaking in the state of ohio. why? guess what. it made a lot of beneficial difference to the state of new york including the fact that new york city became the only port that could export and import goods making it the financial capital of america. in ohio, we have a fellow by the name of alfred kelly who became the canal commissioner and really took it on as his lifelong legacy, if you will, to make sure that canal got built, built kind of on time and under budget. ohio and erie canal is 309 miles in length. it goes from cleveland to portsmith ohio on the ohio river. the actual construction of the canal began in 1825. by 1827, july 4th, the first
11:19 am
boat from akron to cleveland got through the canal port in cleveland. by 1832, the entire system was complete from cleveland all the way to the ohio river. it made a tremendous difference. for the nation, it allowed us to start to rationalize our economy. it allowed us to have internal trade. prior to that, all the seaboard states depended on exporting in terms of making money and delivering goods and services. so this actually helped america expand westward. by doing so, i mentioned new york city became the financial capital of the country. ohio rises from a wilderness to be the third most populous and third richest state in the union by the 1860s. canal life was a slow paced life. canals, boats generally went about 4, 5 miles an hour. i was standing next to a rock right now, and there were numerous locks to allow the
11:20 am
boats to basically navigate the terrain and the topography. these became water elevators that lifted or lowers the boats as they made their journey. cramped quarters. oftentimes, you would find cattle and people sleeping in the same boat. some were travelers, some were goods being delivered. so it was pretty hectic little life, but at a slow pace. predominantly, the goods that were moved along the canal, especially from ohio eastward, were grain, wheat, things of this nature. things that were farmed there. you know, we became the bread basket of america for a reason. this was a good place to grow things. and new england became the early days of the industrial revolution, that became a good place to make things. so basically, we had this barter str trade system that was part of our national economy growing that had one hand food and on the other hand services, goods, machines, et cetera. the canal in ohio paid for itself.
11:21 am
what's significant is in cleveland, we had a way lock. the way lock is how you made money with the canacanal. you had a canal boat and the difference between its original weight and what was docked in at the port of cleveland, that's where you got your taxes, where you made your money. in 1874 when the railroads bought the mile of canal land in the city of cleveland, basically for the railroad track, we took the weigh canal and moved it. we still use the weigh canal in 1874. that said, we were still making money on that canal. railroads arrived in cleveland in 1851. ironically, the guy who helps bring the railroad to cleveland is the same guy who champions the canal, alfred kelley. the railroads had an immediate impact on the canal. however, the canal did stay in use until 1913. it just had a different use. it started to become a place where people would go leisurely
11:22 am
on a weekend. they would have a boat, they would travel up and down the canals. many times, the canals when they were put in place, or they would have general stores or taverns, and people would, i guess in their day, go pub crawling, if you will. using a canal boat on a sunday afternoon. one permanent legacy of the canal was the fact in cleveland, especially, the river valley became the center of storage. it bekacame a port. it became a manufacturing center of the city itself. so that's where the wealth of cleveland grew. it was all based on the fact you had that canal as cleveland's first port there. as time went on and manufacturing obviously rose, i mean, city of cleveland grew. we became the fifth largest city in the country, we had major, major steel mills and oil refineries thanks to john rockefeller, and there was a consequence environmentally to
11:23 am
those uses. prior to the environmental protection agency and regulations for water and what you can put in water and rivers, et cetera, there were no regulations. and so, you know, in cleveland, you had situations where, for instance, standard oil and john rockefeller basically refined oil along the banks of the river. when they did so, there were certain byproducts he could not find a use for, therefore they ended up in the river. it was told and reported that at one time, we had a fire in 1957, and they actually went and measured the gunk on the top of the river. it was more than eight inches deep of oil and other byproducts that were flammable. but the story itself, although it's bad, it really has tremendously positive outcomes. it inspires earth day. it helps pass legislation that creates the united states epa. it helps pass the clean water
11:24 am
bill, the clean air bill. if you look at all the consequences of that particular river fire, the positive far outweighs the negative of that. cleveland, due to that river fire, and due to the exposure it got, we pretty much are the selma of the environmental movement. and then in 1974, congress passed legislation that created the cuyahoga national park. that canal and the tow path associated with it became the central feature of that national park. we are still what's called an area of concern. there is still some work to be done in terms of completing the job of cleaning up the river. but the needle has gone dramatically to the positive end. we're just about through the area of concern, and in fact, in 2000, then-president bill clinton introduced a program called the american heritage rivers program. he basically put the invitation out to anyone who thought their river was significant enough to the story of america to compete
11:25 am
for this new designation. we did. we competed for the cuyahoga river as part of that, and the story was told to us as they went through the deliberation process to choose what was going to be the first ten rivers to be nominated for american heritage river status, that they got to bill clinton, gave him the list of the rivers. he read through it and said where is the cuyahoga. didn't they apply. the answer was, no, they did apply. however, they didn't make the cut. he goes, this program is all about the cuyahoga river. the reason he said that is it's the comeback of the cuyahoga river that's the story today. >> this area that we're in right now became cuyahoga recreational area in december of 1974. it became cuyahoga national park in the year 2000. with that comes a new idea for bringing national parks to people. most of us aren't going to get to the gates of the arctic
11:26 am
national wildlife refue, but if we had parks nearby, we could get to those. they started making national parks in urban areas. we have a backbone that's a braided backbone with the ohio and erie canal. braided backbone with the cuyahoga city railroad and the cuyahoga river. this national park was created out of land that had been used in some instances abused, left in ruin because it was a was wasteland in some places that people didn't see any potential for. and yet we cleaned it up. we let nature do what nature does. and now we're the 11th most visited national park. there's a huge story here. a story of can i say redemption? a story where if we allow nature to do what it does best, if we give it the chance to do what it does best and not interfere, or help it, then the land can
11:27 am
recover with environmental legislation and laws and with things that we have in place, now we have a river that is coming back to life. the environment has recovered. yes, it was degraded because of man, but it was also helped by man. and it has allowed us with that help, it has recovered. to create this great green area we have now. >> 100 years ago this august 25th, president woodrow wilson signed legislation creating the national park service. american history tv is featuring natural and historic sites throughout the country visited by our c-span cities tour staff. this is american history tv, only on c-span3. >> i think most people just like i was when i first saw it.
11:28 am
when you see it from a distance, you think, oh, that's kind of interesting, kind of cool. then the closer you get to it, you realize how really massive it is. and getting up to the base of it and actually touching it, looking up 630 feet to the top, it really is very, very impressive. i think the closer you get to it, the more impressed you become. right now we're standing close to the famous gateway arch in st. louis. 630-foot tall stainless steel structure that was designed back in 1947 but now built until the mid-1960s, and completed in 1965. each year, we get about 2.5 million visitors who come to see the memorial and see the arch. so it's a very busy place, especially during the summer months. the arch was designed by a man named arrow


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on