Precolumbian Causeways and Canals

precolombian causeways

Detail of an engineered landscape in the Bolivian Amazon. Artwork by Clark Erickson.

“In contrast to the Western obsession to drain what are considered marginal wetlands for agriculture, farmers in the Bolivian Amazon may have intentionally expanded wetlands and wetland productivity through earthwork construction, which impedes, rather than enhances, drainage. The precolumbian farmers did not use causeways as dikes to prevent inundation of fields and settlements, but rather to expand and enhance inundation for agricultural production. At the same time, impounding water with well-placed causeways and the creation of canals improved and extended the season of transportation by canoe across the landscape. The grid-like structure also permanently marked land tenure in a highly visible manner.” [Read more…]

Hoisting Coal from Canal Boats with Dederick Machines

Hoisting coal from canal boats 2

“An improvement made by Mr. P. K. Dederick, of Albany, N.Y., was a horse-hoisting machine that very materially reduced the labor of the horse in hoisting. Previous to this, the horse walked forward to hoist a full bucket, and was obliged to back to lower the empty bucket into the hold of the vessel. With most horses, this latter was harder work than hoisting the loaded bucket, while the Dederick machine increased the speed of unloading but little, it reduced the labor of the horse about one-half.”

Quoted from: “Coal handling machinery“, C.W.Hunt Company, 1893.