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There are a few isolated states that do not, in one way or another, depend on a river, canal, or harbor as part of their transportation infrastructure. There is virtually no navigation on the Colorado or Rio Grande Rivers in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah or Colorado, and regular steamboat service doesn’t get as far up the Missouri to Montana as it once did; however, for most other states their rivers, harbors and barge canals are vital.

On that recent trip discussed earlier in this series, one destination was the old Erie Canal and its often side-by-side companion, the New York State Barge Canal. On that same trip, we crossed seven other remnants of New York canals that once served as the state’s key means of transport before railroads. My wife and I watched large boats lifted through canal locks, saw barges on the Hudson, crossed canals in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Connecticut, and visited a number of Pennsylvania and Maryland canals, some of which are now national parks. In Indiana, we made a donation of books to the Wabash & Erie Canal Park in Delphi. The Illinois State Barge Canal is often in the news, not related to shipping, but because of large foreign carp that migrate up the Mississippi and Illinois River and then enter the Great Lakes, devastating local game fish. 

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