Author to be interviewed by Book TV C-SPAN 2, Tuesday, April 21,2015

William G. Crawford, Jr., author of the award-winning “Florida’s Big Dig,” is to be interviewed by Jason Dorman, a graduate of Flagler College, for C-SPAN 2 Book TV.

The interview is to air the month of May, with a special emphasis on a showing throughout the weekend of May 16 through May 17, 2015.

William G. Crawford, jr, Esq., Florida attorney, historian, and author of "Florida 's Big Dig."
William G. Crawford, jr, Esq., Florida attorney, historian, and author of “Florida ‘s Big Dig.”

The story of the Florida link in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, “Florida’s Big Dig” won the Rembert Patrick Award in 2008 for the Best Scholarly Book on a Florida history topic given by the Florida Historical Society.

C-SPAN is in the midst of a campaign of focusing on the history of smaller cities and towns and their authors. This weekend C-SPAN has been taping in St. Augustine, Fla.

Even Whiskers likes "Florida's Big Dig."
Even Whiskers likes “Florida’s Big Dig.”

Troubled Waters


Polish Waters Polish Waters

Poland’s inland waterways are underexploited and underdeveloped. They barely account for 0.2% of the country’s total inland transport. In comparison, the proportion is 17% in Germany. The global trend is to promote water transport. Meanwhile, only 10% of Polish waterways have the operability parameters required by the 2002 resolution on the classification of inland waterways. Although the authorities admit that Poland needs to do a great deal in this area, two ministries seem to be acting at cross-purposes. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Development intends to allocate PLN 4 billion to enhance the navigability of Polish rivers. The plans may, however, be thwarted by the Environment Ministry whose draft water bill envisages a considerable rise in charges for water transport of goods and passengers as well as for the use of sluices. As a result, river transport might prove significantly more expensive than that by motorway. The ministry…

View original post 208 more words

The first dredge machine used in the construction of the Intracoastal Waterway (1882?)

First known dredge machine used in the Matanzas-Halifax River Cut (1882?). Courtesy, St. Augustine Historical Society.
First known dredge machine used in the Matanzas-Halifax River Cut (1882?). Courtesy, St. Augustine Historical Society.

The first dredge used in constructing the Intracoastal Waterway was a crude steel bucket dredge. Each bucket was the size of two average-sized men standing inside. The buckets were attached to a continuous steel chain, powered by steam. First used in the so-called Matanzas-Halifax Cut, the dredge was to join the Matanzas River at St. Augustine with the Halifax River at Ormond (now, Ormond Beach). The thirty-mile stretch of dry land required thirty years to complete the work. The constant breaking of the continuous chain as well as the tearing away of buckets from the chain made the work difficult to sustain.

In the dredging of dry cuts like this one, it was necessary to put fifty to eighty men with shovels and picks ahead of the bucket dredge to break up the solid ground and remove any sizeable trees. Often, expediency required a source of water ahead of the the work to make the rock and sand more easily removed by the buckets without sand and rock escaping the buckets.

It didn’t take canal company officials long to realize that more efficient machines were needed. The dredge machine was all encompassing. It contained not only the dredge itself but also sleeping quarters for the men operating the machine, a kitchen and dining area, as well as an acetylene gas generator for lighting, for dredging twenty-four hours a day.

Commercial Acetylene Gas Generator, ca. 1905


In the short period of time between kerosene or oil lamps and electricity, many cities, towns, and villages, hotels and  businesses throughout America relied upon the often dangerous acetylene gas generator.  Such also was the case for canal dredges and excavators running day and night, twenty-four hours a day.  The generators mixed calcium carbide and water, generating acetylene gas for lighting dredging work at night.

The several agreements between the State Legislature and the canal company set out strict completion dates. In the last agreement calling for completion by 1912, dredges worked night and day in various places throughout the length of the Florida peninsula, including the incorrigible Matanzas-Halifax river cut, now in its 30th year of dredging in hard rock. In November 1912, the state trustees delivered to the Florida canal company the 12th and last deed to public land, totaling over one million acres for dredging 268 miles of inland waterway, later to comprise the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

The Falkirk Wheel of Central Scotland: reconnecting Glasgow and Edinburgh

Designed by Scottish architect Tony Kettle, the Falkirkwheel is one of the most unusually designed rotating boat lifts and systems in the world. Employing Archimedes principle and a 22-horsepower motor, the wheel lifts narrow or canal boats a distance of 79 feet from the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal. Opening in 2002,the project reconnected Glasgow with Edinburgh for the first time since the 1930s. In the 1930s, the two canals were connected by 11 locks.

It is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world. Design of the wheel began in 1999; construction ended in 2002–two years after the Millennium Commission had set its goal for completion of the project.

The Erie Canal at Lockport, New York (1817-1825)

Embed from Getty Images

The construction of the wildly successful Erie Canal in the State of New York set off a new era of canal construction across America. For the first time, an inland waterway provided a connection between New York City on the Atlantic coast and cities along the shores of the Great Lakes like Chicago. The link allowed New York City to surpass Baltimore as the largest city in the United States.

A strict construction of the Constitution rooted in the Constitutional Convention. at Philadelphia limited Congress’s powers to construct “post-roads” and undertake specific tasks set forth with particularity. Federal financing of inland waterways was not one of them. In fact, a bill to engraft the power to build inland waterways failed to pass in Philadelphia. The restraint against federal financing left New Yorkers with little choice but to build the Erie Canal with state and local funding as well as private financing and the implementation of tolls as a means of maintaining the Canal.