In 1830 the Louisville and Portland Canal opened for business. Until then the only way down the Ohio River was through the Falls of the Ohio. These were a series of rapids that had to navigated by experienced river men. During the course of the rapids the river dropped 26 feet and was a very dangerous trip.
Many boat that carried goods had to unloaded at the 4th Street Wharf in downtown Louisville and taken to the Portland Wharf that was pass the Falls of the Ohio. This took time and as time changed a new way to navigate the river was needed.
The canal had to be dug through rock and cost more than first estimated. It was plagued with finical difficulties all the way through the project until Congress had to invest money for it to be finished. When finished the canal was only 50 feet wide.
Finical difficulties continued for many years after the canal was built and the government ended up owning the canal. In 1960 the Louisville and Portland Canal became the McAlpine Locks and Dam. Since there has been many improvements to the canal has been made. The canal is taken care of by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
To read more about the exciting things happening at McAlpine Locks and Dam today visit:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The changing views of the canal