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Hampton Roads History: George Washington and Virginia Canals

February 12 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST

John Quarstein

John V. Quarstein


Hampton Roads History Lecture:
George Washington and Virginia Canals

Presented by John V. Quarstein, noted author, historian, and director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center

FREE. Advance registration is required.

Join us  for a virtual lecture with author and historian John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center. Quarstein will give a presentation on the critical role of waterways to the economy in the Tidewater area and how George Washington was one of the biggest advocates for the Commonwealth. Viewers are welcome to send him any comments or questions during the presentation, and John will answer them following his talk.

About the lecture:
Bays, rivers, and creeks were key transportation elements for the economic growth of Tidewater Virginia. However, as Virginia expanded westward, a man-made waterway, like those in use in England and Holland, was needed to facilitate movement of people and supplies. George Washington became one of the greatest advocates for the Commonwealth’s canal development. The first transportation canal in the United States was the Dismal Swamp Canal. Washington saw the need to connect eastern North Carolina, which did not have a deep water port, to the Chesapeake Bay. He surveyed the route himself, recognizing the need to connect the Ohio River Valley with eastern Virginia. Washington knew that whichever state first made that connection would become an economic powerhouse. While the Chesapeake & Ohio and the James River & Kanawha canals were efforts to achieve this goal, they were underfunded, and were unable to cross the Allegheny Mountains to make that connection. Instead, New York underwrote the canal construction which was able to use the Mohawk River Valley to reach Lake Erie, allowing New York City to become the leading port on the East Coast.

George Washington and Virginia Canals
February 12 • 12 p.m. (EST)

Pre-registration for this program is required.
In order to pre-register, you will first need a free Zoom account. If you need help, follow the steps in this short video guide.
For more information, contact: [email protected] or call (757) 596-2222.

Can’t make the live program?
No problem! Many of our virtual programs are uploaded to our YouTube Channel shortly afterwards.


Image credit: Lake Drummond Hotel, The Gretna Green of Lower Virginia. Lithograph print, 1831. Pendleton Lithography, lithographer, Boston; C. Hall, publisher. The Mariners’ Museum 1941.0406.000001.



February 12
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST


The Mariners’ Museum
100 Museum Drive
Newport News, VA 23606 United States
(757) 596-2222