Augustine Herman, a mapmaker, noted that the Delaware River and the Chesapeake Bay could easily be connected, as there was only a small strip of land between the two. A connection would shorten the trade routes between Philadelphia and the Port of Baltimore by hundreds of miles.
On this day October 17th, in 1829, the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal is formally opened. Nothing came of Herman’s suggestion to build a small waterway until the late 18th century, when Benjamin Franklin mentioned that it would be a smart move to connect the two places. Herman died in 1686, so his ideas really didn’t come into fruition for 100 years.
The Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Company was created in 1802, and construction on the canal began in 1804. Construction was halted a number of times, and the cost for the canal was one of the most expensive at the time: over $2.5 Million. The Canal is 14 miles long, and in 1872 it carried more than 1.3 million tons across it. To this day the canal is still used, as it transports about 40% of all vessels that come into the Port of Baltimore.