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CONNECTING THE EAST WITH THE WEST

GEORGE WASHINGTON THE MAN WITH A PLAN

JOSEPH CARRINGTON CABELL

FAT H E R O F T H E C A N A L ?

THE TURNING BASIN STATUE W R O N G L O C AT I O N ?


TA B L E O F CONTENTS INTRODUCTION......................PG. 2

GEORGE WASHINGTON.........PG. 4 JAMES CARRINGTON CABEL PG. 6 THE TURNING BASIN..............PG. 8


INTRODUCTION The James River and Kanawha Canal is located in Virginia. It was built with the intention of moving passengers and freight by water between the western counties of Virginia and the coast.The idea for this canal originally came from George Washinton, who knew the west more than most at the time. He was the first American to outline an extensive policy of western expansion and internal improvement. Washington surveyed and planned the project, which began under the James River Company in 1785. The James River Company was formed for the purpose of constructing the canal, with George Washington as honorary president and Edmund Randolf as the acting president.By law The James River Company was required to begin work within one year after organizing and complete the project within 10 years, otherwise it would be forfeited. The first section of the canal, constructed within the first 10 years, stretched only 7 miles long. In 1820 the state of Virginia bought the James River Company and operated in until 1832. During this period the state reconstructed the canal from Richmond to Westham and extended it to Goochland County. They also built the Balcony Falls Canal through a gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which improved the difficult navigation on the Great Kanawha River in the western part of the state, and developed the Kanawha Turnpike over the Alleghany Mountains. In 1832 the state legislature passed a bill creating a joint stock company called the James River and Kanawha Company, replacing the orginal James River Company. The joint company allowed private subscriptions and could recieve state aid. Joseph Carrington Cabell served as the president of the company from 1832 until 1844 and became known as the “Father of the James River and Kanawha Canal.” With Cabell as president, the canal had expanded to Lynchburg by 1840 and in 1841 was in the process of expanding further to Buchanan, creating a total span of 196 miles by way of the canal. Finally by the 1850’s 1850 the majority of the canal was complete, making it the main way of communication and transportation in Virginia. The total cost for the canal came to be $8,259,187 upon completion. Eventually by the 1860’s railroads became popular and proved to be the best andeasiest way of transportation. This led to a financial struggle for the canal, which almost went bankrupt, but was able to survive until 1880 with the help of Buchanan’s major, John W. Johnston. In 1880 the Alleghany Railway Company purchased the canal system, ending its 95 year lifespan, and built tracks along the towpath, ceasing canalboat traffic for good.


G E O R G E WA S H I N G T O N George Washington, the nation’s first president, created the idea of a canal to expand communication and transportation westard across Virginia. Having explored much of the west as a teenager, working as a surveyor under Lord Fairfax, he was familiar with the needs and potential that the area had to offer. He approached the govenor with his ideas around the 1750’s, but due to the large amount of funding that the project would require, there was no serious consideration until the 1780’s. Until then Washington discussed the idea very frequently with friends and referred to it in letters. He even published an article in the colonial gazette to encourage the public to hop on board with his idea. In 1774 he brought his idea before the Virginia House of Burgesses, but it again was rejected due to doubts as to how it would be funded. He changed his plan and a created a bill, as to which an amendment was added, increasing its chances to be accepted. Unfortunately, before the proposal could be passed, the session expired and the Revolutionary war began. Finally in the fall of 1784, George Washington received a letter from Governor Benjamin Harrison strongly approving his proposal to connect the east with the west. The James River Company was created in 1785 with Washington as president, but eventually he elected Edmund Randolf as acting president because he was unable to assume the active duties. Washington is credited with originating the idea of connecting the western part of Virginia with the eastern part. He encouraged the movement and repeatedly reminded the public of the potential of expansion. Although the canal fell short of Washington’s main goal, eventually it was accomplished by the way of railroads.


JOSEPH CARRINGTON CABELL

“FATHER OF THE JAMES RIVER AND KANAWHA CANAL” Joespeh Carrington Cabell, known as a prominent member of the Internal Improvement Convention, was an avid supporter of the new movement to expand westard. Although the concept did originate from him, some still consider him to tbe the Father of the canal. He is also considered the founder of the James River and Kanawha Compan where he served as president from 1832 until Company, 1844. Cabell put his heart and soul into the project, devoting himself soley to the promotion of the canal as well canvasing for funds to support it. Despite the support of the Farmers’ Bank of Virginia, sufficient funds were raised by 1835 to carry out the expansion. Many of the funds came from surrounding counties, individuals and the city of Richmond, which gave $400,000 to the project. Under Cabell’s leadership the canal stretched over 100 miles from Richmond to Lynchburg. By 1841 Cabell and other members of the James River and Kanawha Company had raised enough funds to expand the canal about 50 miles further west to Buchanan, Virginia. Before Cabell’s retirement su in 1844, the company began to suffer financially, with much of the blame and criticism falling on him. He was re-elected to be president of the company, but denied the opportunity to remove himself from such criticism.


THE TURNING BASIN Strange fact about the turning basin statue is that the boats that actually were in the turning basin were not the same size as the boat depicted in the statue. For this statue to be accurate it would need to be placed more towards ship lock park.


Zine created by: John Crawford


Canal zine