I think I'm going to back off a bit with a couple "family-oriented" posts. Don't worry, there's plenty of danger yet to come, but I'd like to get some photos of the Augusta Canal up, hardly a gritty topic. Or maybe it is kinda gritty. Anyway, Augusta might be even more desolate than it is now without the canal. Built in 1845 by Augustan Henry H. Cumming, it gave Augusta an economic out when the surrounding land could no longer support cotton or tobacco cultivation.
In 1875 the canal was widened for industry, largely by Chinese immigrants who stayed in Augusta and formed one of the few Chinese communites in the South at the time. Working for the mills back in the late 1800's meant working for the man and the man was going to bleed you dry.
Augusta has gotten it's drinking water from the canal since the canal's contruction. This pumping station was built in 1892 and replaced an even earlier one. The canal generated enough power to make Augusta the first southern city with streetlights and electric street cars. There's a darn good mountain bike trail just off to the right of this photo.
Where there's a canal there's bound to be train tracks. These tracks are still in use, although no longer carrying much product from the mills. The trains are a frequent obstacle while trying to get to the aforementoned mountain bike trail. Also, as far as I could tell, they're routed through the poorer neighborhoods right around the morning and evening rush hours. Pretty wise, that, since everyone knows poor people are never in a hurry.
For centuries Augusta was frequently finding itself underwater. The contruction of a levee eased the problem and the canal was straightened in the 1920's and 30's, when spillways and taller embankments were also created. Even so, you can still find odd things in the river bottoms. There's lots of housing going up on the river banks, a testament to people's faith in modern engineering. They just better hope there isn't one of those 500-year floods that happens every 30 years. Additional information on the canal can be found here.