10 Facts About Canals

canal locks engineering


Transportation has always been a key working of industry. Without a way to get products from one place to another, companies would be out of business. Therefore, many effective transportation routes, both on land and water, have been created. A unique method of transportation is a canal waterway.

  1. Canals are essentially manmade rivers mostly used to transport goods via ships.
  2. Canals are key in the commerce industry for bulk product transportation because of its low cost. 
  3. Canals date back to ancient Mesopotamia around 2400 BC. The Tigris and Euphrates provided fertile soil for settlement and agriculture. Therefore, the Nahrawan Canal was built to provide water for both drinking and crops. While used for a different purpose now, this ancient canal paved the way for what we call a canal today.
  4. At first, only contoured canals were built. This meant that the canal followed the natural landscape of the route instead of going through deeper trenches. Contoured canals were cost efficient, but took longer to build and travel through. Therefore, engineers across the world got to work. The key to a successful canal was being versatile in different environments.
  5. The result? A canal lock. This pivotal feature of a canal allows a boat to be transported from different altitudes of water. Now with canal locks, a canal can be built through any terrain.
  6. Canals serve in two main ways: aqueducts and waterways. Aqueduct canals are much like the Nahrawan Canal in Egypt. This type of canal transports water from one place to another for agriculture, utility, or human consumption.
  7. Waterway canals are more prominent today. These canals navigate ships by either connecting two bodies of waters or cities. Both ways have transformed economies over the past few centuries.
  8. Canals have existed for thousands of years. Some have become prominent tourist attractions due to their success and location. Here are a few along with what they connect:
  • Suez Canal – the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea
  • Panama Canal – the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean
  • Erie Canal – Lake Erie and the Hudson River
  • Grand Canal – Beijing and Zhejiang
  • Bruges Canal – Bruges and the North Sea

9. The Panama Canal is widely recognized for expanding global shipping trade routes. Today, the canal has assisted millions of travelers passing from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

10. Research on canal construction is being conducted to improve the entire process. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tests scale models to install the best canal gates and locks.


Canals are one of the greatest transportation engineering feats of all time. CEDARVILLE Engineering Group, LLC (CEG) strives to provide excellence with every single project. Call us at 610-705-4500 or email info@cedarvilleeng.com to find out more.

By: J. Auerbach

What can we do for you?

Address: CEDARVILLE Engineering Group, LLC 159 E. High Street, Suite 500 Pottstown, PA 19464 Phone: 610-705-4500 Fax: 610-705-4900 info@cedarvilleeng.com

Select This

CEDARVILLE Engineering Group, LLC (CEG)
159 E. High Street, Suite 500, Pottstown, PA 19464
P:610-705-4500 F: 610-705-4900
A Federally Certified 8(a) / EDWOSB Company | DBE / WBE

© 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016