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River RepublicThe Fall and Rise of America's Rivers$
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Daniel McCool

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161312

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161312.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Rivers Into Waterways

Rivers Into Waterways

Barging, Locks, and Dams

(p.138) 6 Rivers Into Waterways
River Republic

Daniel McCool

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how barging diminished the value of American rivers as a natural resource and instead allocated them to narrow, extractive uses. America's experience with canals clearly demonstrated that transportation choices made in one era did not necessarily make good sense in subsequent eras. Despite the failure of most canal schemes, America pursued its dream of a nationwide waterway system. Rivers were so important to commerce that in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln made it a priority to open the Mississippi River to northern ships. Today, rivers that have been abused as a convenient sewage dump or industrial corridor are being recognized as thin threads of pastoral beauty. Some city riverfronts have been born again, but others languish in neglect. Yet the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the barge industry continue to argue for even more waterways and dams.

Keywords:   barging, American rivers, canals, Mississippi River, waterways, riverfronts, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, dams

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