Early Morning at Lock Seven

Bine

Joined September 2011

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This is what’s left of lock seven of the Patowmack canal at Great Falls Park, VA
Few ventures were dearer to George Washington than his plan to make the Potomac River navigable as far as the Ohio River Valley. In the uncertain period after the Revolutionary War, Washington believed that better transportation and trade would draw lands west of the Allegheny Mountains into the United States and “…bind those people to us by a chain which never can be broken.”

“The way,” Washington wrote, “is easy and dictated by our clearest interest. It is to open a wide door, and make a smooth way for the produce of that Country to pass to our Markets ….”

As a waterway west the Potomac River could be that “door.” It was the shortest route between tidewater, with access to East Coast and trans-Atlantic trade, and the headwaters of the Ohio River, with access to the western frontier. But both political and physical obstacles had to be overcome.

George Washington did not live to see the completion of the navigation project that had been his obsession since youth. But he did take pride in visiting the canal during the construction to inspect its progress. He died in 1799, two years before the canal opened at Great Falls.

In the long run Washington’s vision of a strong nation linked by trade came true. His frequent toast, “Success to the navigation of the Potomac!” became a footnote of American history.

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Artwork Comments

  • kalaryder
  • Bine
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