For most people, a ride over the two bridges that span the Cape Cod Canal means their beach vacation is about to begin. That saltwater view, from 135 feet up, is the first glimpse of anything but highway and trees that travelers have seen for hours. It triggers nostalgia for vacations past, anticipation of the happy times ahead, and for a few, it's a white-knuckle three minutes on narrow lanes and heavy traffic.
The first version of the privately-funded canal was begun in 1909 and completed five years later. Shipwrecks along the sandbars of the outer stretches of the Cape were taking their toll on commerce. According to the Cape Cod Canal Centennial website, ships ran aground an average of every two weeks in the 1880s.
In spite of the new shortcut, mariners avoided the Canal due to exorbitant tolls. It wasn't until the U.S. government took control of the waterway in 1928 that the canal was deepened and widened, and two 1935 bridges-- the Sagamore and the Bourne, provided toll-free passage for seamen and tourists.
I found this video of the Canal being constructed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.