History of Gulf Intercoastal Waterway

A tug pushes barges into the Colorado River Locks at Matagorda that are an important part of the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway (GIWW).

   The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is a coastal canal from Brownsville, Texas, to the Okeechobee waterway at Fort Myers, Florida 
   The Texas portion of the canal system extends 426 miles, from Sabine Pass to the mouth of the Brownsville Ship Channel at Port Isabel 
   The grand concept of a canal system that would eventually connect Boston harbor with Brownsville harbor was introduced by Albert Gallatin, United States secretary of the treasury, in a report on Public Roads and Canals submitted to the United States Senate in 1808 
   By 1819 Secretary of War John C 
   Calhoun had published his Report on Roads and Canals, which posits an urgent need for an improved internal transportation system including waterways 
   In that report Calhoun proposed that the Army Corps of Engineers be used to develop and, if necessary, supervise construction of the internal improvements 
   He also believed that the individual states would be unable to finance and construct an interconnecting national system of canals and railroads without federal help 
   A federal policy established by the General Survey Agency of 1824 represented the first step in a prolonged struggle 
   By 1829 much of the route along the heavily populated eastern portion of the proposed intracoastal waterway had been selected 
   Congress authorized several surveys for a canal across Florida to connect the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico 
   Nevertheless, for most of the nineteenth century, Congress was concerned with pressing domestic and military concerns that delayed actual construction. 

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