20 July 2008

Piedmont Paddlers

Ok, this is Landsford Canal State Park, just a short drive south of Charlotte. The canal was operated from 1820 to 1835, to bypass a portion of the Catawba River where it drops 36 feet over about a mile and a half, creating an area of rocky shoals and rapids. The name comes from Land's Ford, where the American and British armies crossed the river during the Revolution. Seen above is the diversion dam, which served two purposes. One was to divert enough water through the canal, and the other was to prevent boats from being swept downriver during floods.

This log cabin, known as the Simpson-Wise house, was built in the 1790's near Chester, SC. The Chester Historical Society donated it to te park and it was reconstructed in 1980.
This was the guard lock. Its purpose was to protect the canal during large flooding. The gates were normally open, except during floods. This is also where boats were hooked up to a horse or mule to pull them through the canal. the canal's waterproof clay lining could be damaged by the long poles used to help move boats down the rest of the river.
A local resident says hello. Certainly wasn't shy, was he?
One of the better preserved culverts along the canal path. The culverts were built over streams that crossed the canal to prevent damage. The stream would flow through the arch under the canal, which ran over the calvert.
Another culvert, this one was used as part of a waste weir. The weir was made as a sort of spillway to help control level in the canal, and the culvert allowed excess water to flow into the river.
Here the canal flowed through an existing mill complex owned by the family of William Richardson Davie. The mill used water power to grind grain and sawed lumber. Above is the view in the mill canal, below is the view from above.

Here is where the canal is most obvious. Also, the way that the land drops away on the opposite side shows how much the river and its bank has already dropped compared to the canal.
This is the upper lifting locks. By this point, the river had already dropped 15 feet, while the elevation of the canal was still the same. This consisted of two locks, where the boat would be enclosed by gates and the water lowered ten feet. On the hill above this lock was the Lockkeeper's House, where he could see a large portion of the canal. Another half mile down the canal is the lower lifting locks, but this is where the trail stops.
This stone arch at the lower end of the locks allowed the local road crossed the canal. This is also the road that led to Lands Ford.

The park has another distinction, having the largest known stand of Rocky Shoal Spider Lillys. These plants, with their large, white blooms, have been lost in many places due to damming and development. they require a clean, free flowing river with a rocky bottom to grow. The photo above shows the main grove of them, in a composite photo. Below is a closer view.

here, along the nature trail, you can see the rocky shoals that boats would have to go through without the canal.

No comments: