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The Augusta Canal National Heritage Area
is the oldest, continuously used industrial
hydropower canal in the United States. It was
constructed in 1845 for three purposes: hydropower, drinking water for the city, and
boat transportation. The canal is not only important regionally, but also nationally.
The Canal helped initiate the Industrial Revolution in the South by powering textile mills
as early as 1848. During the Civil War, it powdered the Confederate Powderworks Mill.
By the end of the 19th century, Augusta’s population had doubled, mainly as a result of
over 12 mills operating on the canal, providing jobs for thousands of people.
Sadly, by the mid-20th century the canal became neglected and polluted. A grass roots movement led to creation of the Canal Authority in 1989, and in 1996, the canal was designated a National Heritage Area by Congress. Now we protect over 2,000 acres of land that provide over 25 miles of land and water trails for public use, and a home to hundreds of freshwater plants and animals. Visit the Augusta Canal Discovery Center and take a Petersburg Boat Tour to learn more about how a city used its waterways to reinvent itself and define its destiny.