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An elaborate system of "highways" to our ancestors and the settlers of this great country. By contrast, more than half of Australia's interior has no significant waterways, and as a result, those areas are still sparsely populated today. Access to water and transportation were the barriers.
 

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An elaborate system of "highways" to our ancestors and the settlers of this great country. By contrast, more than half of Australia's interior has no significant waterways, and as a result, those areas are still sparsely populated today. Access to water and transportation were the barriers.
A piece of American history that I find fascinating is the prehistoric "highway" The Natchez Trace. It was an established route for native Americans and then was utilized by the Ohio river valley settlers. They would build flatboats to load their produce, furs/skins, and other products made and float down to New Orleans where they broke up the boats, sold the lumber and returned home on foot on the Trace. It's on my bucket list to bicycle from Franklin, TN to at least Jackson, MS. on the Trace.
 
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I'm in Oil City, about 15 miles from the Drake Well in Titusville. Three waterways here were instrumental in the discovery, production and transportation of oil. Oil Creek, Pithole Creek and the Allegheny River were all used to ship oil by barges in the early days. The first pipelines were laid not just along but in these waterways. In some places, they're still visible in the creekbeds. Oil City, at the junction of Oil Creek and the Allegheny, was the main terminal in those days and for the first 50 or so years, actually set and controlled the world price of oil. Crude from the fields around Titusville, as well as Petroleum Center and Pithole (both early oil boom towns), was floated down the creeks to Oil City, then down the Allegheny to Pittsburgh for country-wide distribution.
 
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