AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- Hundreds attended the “Find your Park” celebration at the Augusta Canal Saturday.
“Lots of times people think of national parks as those big things like Yellowstone and Yosemite,” said Maggie Tyler of the National Parks Service. “But there are oftentimes smaller spaces in cities.”
The Augusta Canal has been a National Heritage Area in partnership with the National Parks Service for 20 years now, but it’s actually much older than that.
“The Augusta Canal was actually begun in 1845, so it’s very historic,” said Rebecca Rogers, who is the marketing director at Augusta Canal National Heritage Area. “It’s the oldest continuously operating hydro-powered transportation water canal that’s still in use in the United States.”
The canal was initially dug so water could power manufacturing. Then when the Civil War broke out, it was used to power the Confederate Powderworks.
“After the war, the canal was widened and enlarged to the size you see it today, and industry just flocked into Augusta,” Rogers said. “There were dozens of plants along and near the canal that made everything from textiles….there were iron works. There were machine shops, lumber mills, shoe factories.”
But now, electricity has outpaced the hydro-power that energized Augusta’s earlier manufacturing. The canal is mostly used now as a water source for the city of Augusta and a beautiful place to walk, bike, and canoe or kayak. Find your Park also celebrated the opening of the Mill Village Trail, which runs adjacent to the canal and ends at 13th Street.
Judging from the turnout Saturday, the new trail and recreation area will be an asset to the people of Augusta.
“It looks like it’s been really well received, and I’m sure a lot of people will want to repeat it. So I would expect that we’ll be doing this again,” Rogers said.