|Date(s):||January 18, 1888|
|Location(s):||RICHLAND, South Carolina|
|Course:||“Rise And Fall of the Slave South,” University of Virginia|
In 1819 and 1824, the South Carolina state government commissioned the construction of a three mile long canal along Columbia's Congaree River. The move sought to modernize the transportation system and provide an avenue for which freight could be moved efficiently along the region's extensive river network. However, during the Civil War, large parts of the canal were destroyed following General Sherman's infamous March to the Sea'.
In the late 1880's, citizens called for the government to reconstruct the canal. The proposed new canal would not only revitalize the city's economy, but it would also serve as a source of hydroelectric energy. In January of 1888 a referendum passed overwhelmingly (1579 , 13) which approved the construction of a new canal. The canal was completed three years afterward, successfully providing energy for the first hydroelectrically based textile mill in the world in 1895.
The Columbian Canal illustrated an important, though often overlooked, aspect of Southern culture. The South was as scientifically advanced as the North. Its willingness to experiment technologically defeats the common myth that it was an intellectual inferior region of the country.