The Dismal Swamp Canal, an 18th century endeavor, was conceived by a group that included George Washington. After 12 years of grueling work, accomplished mostly by enslaved people in highly unfavorable conditions, the canal opened in 1805. Dating back to the late 1700s, the home of the original project's superintendent still stands today on the banks of the canal. Once completed, the 22-mile canal became a vital waterway of travel and commerce. Recognized as a National Civil Engineering Landmark, the Dismal Swamp Canal is the oldest operating man-made canal in the country.