History: Tunnels and Engineers

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With more than three million miles of highways and nearly a hundred and fifty thousand miles of railways covering American soil, transportation above ground has become increasingly congested. Tunnels provide some of the last available space for cars and trains, water and sewage, and even power lines. Today, it's safe to bore through mountains and burrow beneath oceans; however it was not always this easy. In fact, it took engineers thousands of years to perfect the art of digging tunnels. Before cars and trains, tunnels carried only water. Roman engineers created the most extensive network of tunnels in the ancient world. They built sloping structures, called aqueducts, to carry water from mountain springs to cities and villages. They carved underground chambers and built elegant arch structures not only to carry fresh water into the city, but to carry wastewater out. By the 17th century, tunnels were being constructed for canals. Without roads or railways to transport raw materials from the country to the city, these watery highways became the best way to haul freight over great distances. Just like railways and roadways today, canals usually ran above ground, but many required tunnels to pass efficiently through an obstacle, such as a mountain. Canal construction inspired some of the world's earliest tunnels. With the introduction of trains and cars came a tremendous expansion in tunnel construction. During the 19th and 20th centuries, as the development of

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