The book I'm working on is set in a river valley civilization, and the protagonist is traveling upstream from one city to another, so I had to do a little research into what travel method would make the most sense for her.
- Canals allow beasts of burden to pull 50x as much weight as they could pull in a traditional cart on a road.
- In the 1600s, travel by horseboat was widely considered reliable, comfortable and cheap.
- A horseboat pulled along a canal towpath can go about 7 km/hr, faster than walking and smoother than a coach.
- Railroads rendered horseboats largely obsolete, but some still exist as tourist attractions.
- Bridges built over horseboat canals needed to be smooth and curved in order to avoid snagging towlines.
No Stop, Only Go
Because it is very difficult to stop a narrowboat loaded with cargo, canals built for horseboating often had strapping posts for boatmen to wrap towlines to slow down the boats. [Read More]
In addition to towing narrowboats up and down canals, horses could be used to power the paddle boats that operated as ferries, the horses either circling a post and or walking a treadmill. [Read More]
Maintenance of canals is required for functional horseboating, including the cutting back of vegetation and dredging of relevant canals. [Read More]