Dismal Swamp Canal continues 85-year revival
The crew of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s vessel Elizabeth work in tandem March 11, 2014, to down dangerous, leaning pine trees that will be used to reinforce and stabilize the banks along the Dismal Swamp Canal. Two trees in the background will also be downed to safeguard navigation along the DSC.
On March 30, 1929, the U.S. federal government purchased the Dismal Swamp Canal for $500,000, after a protracted period of neglect and general decay by private ownership, worsened by advances in modes of transportation. In the ensuing years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates and maintains America’s oldest continually operating man-made canal, has replaced the locks of 1899 with new steel and concrete locks, along with many other navigational improvements.
The crew of Norfolk District’s vessel Elizabeth uses an ND-6, 112-foot crane barge to snag and remove debris, shore up canal banks by removing tree limbs and underbrush, and cut down dangerous, leaning trees that could impede the safe and efficient navigation along the 33-mile stretch of the DSC.
The Dismal Swamp Canal, which meanders through North Carolina and Virginia, is part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, a major inland protected route for commercial vessel traffic from Norfolk, Va. to Miami, Fla.
The crew of the Elizabeth: Richard Bruton, captain, Dennis Barnes, master crane operator, Glen Boykin, marine mechanic, and Erik Sherer, deckhand, have been working all week to clear the canal, after a recent winter storm swept through the area.
“Richard and I have been maintaining the DSC for 25 years,” said Barnes. "Along with Glen and Erik, our crew functions like a fine-tuned, precision engine. We strongly believe in and practice the ‘t-e-a-m’ in teamwork –Together…Earn…Achieve…More.” (U.S. Army photo/Gerald Rogers)