The Augusta Canal
Little has changed here over the past century. The area remains a natural oasis for reflection, social events, and recreation.
The historic Augusta Canal, recognized as one of the most unique and intact canal systems in the United States, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior.
For 150 years people have been drawn to this area to see the falls and to enjoy the natural setting. Excursion boats, powered by mule or steam, brought people from the city to the headgates, for social events. As early as 1845, advertisements offered to take passengers on pleasure boats up the canal for fifty cents.
The water, for the original 1845 Augusta Canal was impounded by a "wing" dam which extended part way across the river, creating an upper level pool to divert water into the canal. The backwater was a layover area for river barges and "Perersburg" boats, hauling raw materials to Augusta. Boats moved into the canal by passing through a narrow lock, under a dropgate.
When the canal was enlarged in 1875, a new stone dam was extended across the river to the South Carolina shore, making it one of the longest dams in the South. At the same time, the City placed a new stone bulkhead, headgates, and a
second lock, between the original structures and the new dam.
The gate keeper and his family lived in the Victorian cottage (c. 1875). During the 1930's, the dance pavilion, barbecue pit, and picnic shelter were built along the canal bank and used for day long "locks-parties," a tradition begun in the Mid-19th century.
The backwater area, above the dam and extending to Stevens Creek Dam, is known as "99 Islands." Upstream lies Stallings Island, an archaeological site where the earliest known Native American pottery (2000 B.C.) has been found.