Roanoke Canal

Roanoke Canal (HM13ZU)

Location: Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870 Halifax County
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 28.466', W 77° 38.879'

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"Duly Appreciated"

— Confederate Lifeline —

The Roanoke Navigation Company - a collaboration among North Carolina, Virginia, and private shareholders - began building the Roanoke Canal in 1819. The company created an inland navigation system from the upper Staunton and Dan Rivers in Virginia, down the Roanoke River through North Carolina, and then via the Dismal Swamp Canal to Norfolk. Construction of the 8.5-mile-long canal around the Great Falls of the Roanoke to the terminus of the project in present-day Weldon, using mostly slave labor, took several years to complete. Locks were built in three locations and an aqueduct was constructed over Chokoyotte Creek in Weldon. The canal boats, or batteaux, were about 60 feet long with an 8-foot-beam. Often, free blacks and slaves were engaged to pole them; each vessel transported 10-12 hogsheads (5-8 tons) of cargo. The canal operated until the railroads, providing more efficient transportation, forced its closure in 1859.

Four major railroads served Weldon, making the town a major transportation center by 1861. Because of the movement of troops and supplies was such a critical component of the Southern war effort, the Roanoke Navigation Company experienced a resurgence. The canal was once again used to carry regional farm products to the rail junctions at Weldon for Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Although Union forces destroyed ports, railroads, and bridge throughout the South, the Roanoke Canal remained in service until the end of the war. The navigation company function through Reconstruction era until it ceased operations in 1875.

"The importance of the Roanoke River is apparent. [It is] navigable ... to Weldon, the importance of which place, both on account of its railway connections and communications with the rebel army in Virginia and its water connection with the North Carolina sounds, is evident. ... The fertililty of the Roanoke Valley is well known and duly appreciated by rebel authorities, who depend on it for large supplies for their armies, and who are now making strenuous efforts to provide against its being taken, by fortifications and concentration of troops." - Col. Jones Frankle, 2nd Mass. Artillery, Nov. 24, 1864
HM NumberHM13ZU
Series This marker is part of the North Carolina Civil War Trails series
Placed ByNorth Carolina Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 26th, 2014 at 9:14pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 262756 N 4039832
Decimal Degrees36.47443333, -77.64798333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 28.466', W 77° 38.879'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 28' 27.96" N, 77° 38' 52.74" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)252
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 11919 Roanoke Canal Trail, Roanoke Rapids NC 27870, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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