Tour the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, Georgia

Augusta, Georgia is probably best known for the Masters Golf Tournament. But a recent trip to the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area revealed its less-known history as a manufacturing center.

In an interpretive center housed in a cavernous old cotton mill, I learned how the city's 8-mile canal was built in 1845; it's the nation's oldest industrial waterway still serving its original purpose. Fascinating exhibits show how it transformed Augusta by generating hydroelectric power and attracting commerce to this inland city.

I also enjoyed a narrated canal boat tour, which takes you past more than 200 years of Augusta history.

Augusta is on I-20 in east-central Georgia, about 150 miles east of Atlanta and just across the Savannah River from South Carolina.

The Augusta Canal Interpretive Center (1450 Greene St.) is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday from December through March; the rest of the year, it's also open Mondays and from 1-5:30 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for students in kindergarten through high school.

One-hour boat tours cost $10 and $6, respectively, and $4 for children up to age 4; price includes admission to the interpretive center. For more information, or reservations, call 1-888-659-8926.

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