Monday, April 20, 2009

The Harlow Canal

With limited ocean ports and poor river navigation, North Carolina faced difficult transportation obstacles in its early years. Most trade went through Virginia or South Carolina. In order to improve transportation, numerous plans were set into motion during the late 1700s and early 1800s, including the construction of Clubfoot and the Harlowe (Harlow’s) Creek Canal.
1939 Map
In 1815, the North Carolina legislature authorized the formation of the Clubfoot and Harlow's Creek Canal Company to build a new canal to link Beaufort NC, and Pamlico Sound and New Bern(e).

Known locally as the Slave Canal because it was deepened to five or six feet by slave labor, it is one of the oldest canals in the United Sates, originally created untold centuries ago by Indians who dragged their canoes across the lowlands to the Neuse.

The canal was built with a tide control lock at the northern end on Pamlico Sound to keep water from surging through. This lock allowed small vessels to pass from the freshwater Pamlico Sound into the saltwater Atlantic after 1827. When the lock at Harlowe fell into disrepair in 1856, the canal was abandoned.

In 1880 it was re-opened as the New Berne and Beaufort Canal, and was acquired by the government in 1891. Then in 1911, a new canal was created two miles east and parallel to this waterway — the Adams Creek-Cross Creek Canal which later came under control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the now Intracoastal Waterway.

Though the Harlow Canal is long and straight, it is often described as extremely narrow and shallow, and with little maintenance, is considered perilous to navigate. That is what just what might make it a great filter for the new 2009 WaterTribe NC Challenge, scheduled for September 24-27, 2009.

The NC Challenge will be a 100 miles circuit race, starting at Cedar Island. the route is planned to go north and west on the Neuse River, south down the Harlow Canal, continuing south on the Newport River then east to Taylor Creek in downtown Beaufort to the midway checkpoint, then continuing the circumnavigation around Harker’s Island and north up Core Sound back to Cedar Island.

In WaterTribe, a filter helps provide a more even playing field between the kayaks and canoes and the sailboats, and keeps the sailboats small. Only trailer-able, low draft sailboats whose sails can be easily reefed (for safety when in weather) and whose masts can be lowered (for bridges), and who can be rowed or paddled if needed are appropriate for a WaterTribe challenge.

Last weekend on our way to Cedar Island, Paul and I scouted the three bridges that cross over the Harlow Canal. The slide show contains photos we took at these bridges.

Thursday, KiwiBird and I will be heading back to Cedar Island to paddle the planned route as a scouting trip. I’m feeling back to normal, and we are both looking forward to another exciting adventure.

We'll also report back on the conditions of the Harlow Canal.

1 comment:

K.C.A. said...

Great information on the route Dawn. Most appreciated!

The Capt'n Kap