“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Roanoke Rapids in Halifax County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Roanoke Canal

"Duly Appreciated"


— Confederate Lifeline —

Roanoke Canal Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
1. Roanoke Canal Marker
Inscription.  The Roanoke Navigation Company - a collaboration among North Carolina, Virginia, and private shareholders - began building the Roanoke Canal in 1819. The company created an inland navigation system from the upper Staunton and Dan Rivers in Virginia, down the Roanoke River through North Carolina, and then via the Dismal Swamp Canal to Norfolk. Construction of the 8.5-mile-long canal around the Great Falls of the Roanoke to the terminus of the project in present-day Weldon, using mostly slave labor, took several years to complete. Locks were built in three locations and an aqueduct was constructed over Chokoyotte Creek in Weldon. The canal boats, or batteaux, were about 60 feet long with an 8-foot-beam. Often, free blacks and slaves were engaged to pole them; each vessel transported 10-12 hogsheads (5-8 tons) of cargo. The canal operated until the railroads, providing more efficient transportation, forced its closure in 1859.

Four major railroads served Weldon, making the town a major transportation center by 1861. Because of the movement of troops and supplies was such a critical component of the Southern war effort, the Roanoke Navigation
Weldon Aqueduct image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
2. Weldon Aqueduct
The Weldon aqueduct enabled batteaux to pass over Chockoyotte Creek to the basin where goods were transferred to railcars or steamboats. Earthen fortifications, including cannons, guarded this important structure and the western approach to town. - Courtesy Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail.
Company experienced a resurgence. The canal was once again used to carry regional farm products to the rail junctions at Weldon for Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Although Union forces destroyed ports, railroads, and bridge throughout the South, the Roanoke Canal remained in service until the end of the war. The navigation company function through Reconstruction era until it ceased operations in 1875.

"The importance of the Roanoke River is apparent. [It is] navigable ... to Weldon, the importance of which place, both on account of its railway connections and communications with the rebel army in Virginia and its water connection with the North Carolina sounds, is evident. ... The fertililty of the Roanoke Valley is well known and duly appreciated by rebel authorities, who depend on it for large supplies for their armies, and who are now making strenuous efforts to provide against its being taken, by fortifications and concentration of troops." - Col. Jones Frankle, 2nd Mass. Artillery, Nov. 24, 1864
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: War, US CivilWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails series list.
Batteaumen image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
3. Batteaumen
Batteaumen, often slaves or free blacks, transported goods and military supplies on the canal without white supervision. Some batteaumen were involved in antislavery activities. - Courtesy Our State Magazine.
36° 28.466′ N, 77° 38.879′ W. Marker is in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, in Halifax County. Marker is at the intersection of Jackson Street Extended and Roanoke Avenue (North Carolina Highway 48), on the right when traveling west on Jackson Street Extended. Located in front of the Roanoke Canal Museum. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Roanoke Rapids NC 27870, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Roanoke Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); First Kraft Pulp in United States (approx. ¼ mile away); Allen Jones (approx. 3.3 miles away); Benjamin S. Turner (approx. 3.3 miles away); Weldon Railroads (approx. 4.3 miles away); Rockfish Capital of the World (approx. 4.3 miles away); Wilmington and Weldon Railroad (approx. 4.3 miles away); a different marker also named Roanoke Canal (approx. 4.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Roanoke Rapids.
Also see . . .  Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail. (Submitted on August 28, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Roanoke Canal Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
4. Roanoke Canal Marker
Portion of the Roanoke Canal image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
5. Portion of the Roanoke Canal
Canal Lock and Batteaux image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
6. Canal Lock and Batteaux
The structure to the left of this view was built in later years to produce power off the canal's water.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 28, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 446 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 28, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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Jun. 5, 2020