Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The History Of Highway H2O

By : Dennis Stein

  The dream of the St.Lawrence Seaway began in 1680, with an attempt to bypass the Lachine Rapids near Montreal, using a mile long shallow canal. It was not actually completed until 1959, the Canadian ice breaker D'Iberville making the first transit. It was officially opened in June of that year by Queen Elizabeth and U.S. President Eisenhower.
  Earlier, in 1833, the Lachine Canal bypassed the Lachine Rapids, linking Montreal to Lake St. Louis. The first Welland Canal was also completed, being almost 44Km long and consisting of 40 wooden locks.Two World Wars, and oppposition to the project from influencial rail transport companies in the United States slowed the development of the Seaway into a full fledged trade route. 100 years after the opening of the first Welland Canal, the canals at Cornwall and Beauharnois were open, and the new fourth Welland Canal was completed. Its 25 foot depth raises ships 326 feet over a system of eight locks.
  By the mid to late 50's, the Iroquois, Snell and Eisenhower locks were opened, after the U.S. and Canadian governments reached an agreement totalling almost $500 million to construct and maintain a deep draft waterway between the port of Montreal and Lake Erie. Power dam development around the international rapids saw the relocation of 6500 people and 550 homes to the new Ontario towns called Long Sault, Ingleside, and Iroquois. New channels were dug and existing ones dredged, revealing rock formations of Pre-Cambrian rock, requiring new digging technologies and equipment to get past. Four bridges in Montreal had to be modified, in order to accomdate large ships, and were completed without disrupting traffic.
  During its first year of operation, the seaway saw 25 million tons of cargo. By 1979 that gross tonnage had increased to 80 million tons. As the mid 90's approached, the St.Lawrence seaway witnessed 160,000 ship transits from over 50 different nations, and over 2 billion tons of cargo, worth over $300 billion.
  Currently, the seaway has a maximum draft of 26 feet and six inches, which has been increased from original over the history of this remarkable waterway to enable ships to carry extra cargo. It allows ships with a maximum size of 740 feet, and a beam of 78 feet to access the port at Duluth, Minnesota, 2342 miles inland from the Atlantic. In 2004, the St.Lawrence seaway was given the name Hwy. H2O. Important note: A ship can move a ton of cargo 800 km using only 4 litres of fuel, and produce 7.5 times less greenhouse gases than road transport...

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