No area was more shaped and dominated by water transport than the Chesapeake a region particularly rich in rivers, stream and inlets. Buffalo Map Early visitors were much impressed by its many waterways, some comparing the newly encountered land to the Netherlands, with the hope that it would become as wealthy.
The ease of moving hogsheads of tobacco by water, a process far easier on the tobacco than land transport, was essential to the development of the Chesapeake tobacco industry. The ability to anchor ships in fresh water helped protect them from the worm (Teredo navalis) that attacked ships’ bottoms.
Transportation in the Chesapeake depended on the ability to cross water. Therefore boating skills and boats were widely distributed among the population, particularly in the eighteenth century, and roads often served merely to link ferries. The ease of transporting goods and people from plantations directly to ships on the bay also slowed the development of urban centers in the region.
The further expansion of the colonies in the eighteenth century meant that inland water transportation assumed an even more prominent role. The last decades of colonial rule saw a concerted effort to improve internal waterways by means of canals. Countrys were aware of the active canal building going on in England and saw canals as a route to economic development.
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