The first version was built with private funds and spanned a width of 100 feet with a depth of 25 feet. However swift currents caused many ships to run aground. The federal government purchased the toll canal, and from 1935 until 1940, expanded it to 480 feet wide and 32 feet deep, which 6 million visitors traverse each year over the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges.
The canal was a game changer for the commercial shipping industry which suffered dozens of wrecks navigating the treacherous and uncharted shoals off the Chatham elbow of the Cape. Today it is a destination in itself with scenic overlooks on the banks of the canal and paved paths hosting bicyclists, baby carriages, joggers and couples walking hand in hand.
As we look forward to the centennial celebration this weekend, enjoy this video produced by the Centennial Committee.
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