January 20 - FDR approves Cape Cod Canal

1931: Canal reconstruction is part of FDR's Great Depression remedy. 1961: The "Kennedy Inaugural" Storm hits as JFK's speech stirs nation
Cape Cod Canal prior to 1930. Photo credit: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil

1931: Funding provided for major reconstruction of canal during Great Depression

On this day in 1931, the "War Department," later known as the Department of Defense, allotted $39,000 for "the placing of 7,000 tons of riprap stone to protect the banks of the Cape Cod Canal," as reported by the Associated Press.

The work was one of several major changes to the waterway in the 1930s. Federal money from the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt was provided to build two new highway bridges near the old Bourne and Sagamore bridges, as well as a vertical lift bridge for rail traffic. With its 540-foot span, the new railroad bridge was the longest in the world upon completion.

Construction of the bridges provided employment to several hundred local families struggling through the depths of the Great Depression.

The aerial photo at right shows the canal in 1931 prior to the new bridges being built, riprap placed along its banks and the channel widened.

Further changes came when the Army Corps of Engineers decided to eliminate the problematic S-curve of its southern approach in favor of a straight channel to the west of Hog and Mashnee islands extending south to Wings Neck. Material dredged from the new channel was used to build two causeways, one connecting Gray Gables with Hog Island, the second linking Hog and Mashnee islands.

The canal was also widened and extended south from Wings Neck to Cleveland Ledge, adding more than four miles to its original 13-mile length.

By the time work was finished in June 1940, some 40 million cubic yards of material had been removed, compared to 16 million cubic yards for the original construction of the canal, according to Robert H. Farson's book, "The Cape Cod Canal."

1961: The "Kennedy Inaugural" Storm

On this day in 1961 a big snowstorm moved into the Washington, D.C., area on the eve of the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. The snow was over before the ceremonies got underway, but nearly 8 inches of snow was on the ground in the nation's capital when Kennedy took the oath of office. The storm affected a broad area from Virginia to New England and was accompanied and followed by very cold temperatures.

Meanwhile Cape Cod got hammered with 15 inches.

Art courtesy of AccuWeather.com.

1961: John F. Kenndy stirs the world with his inaugural speech


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