The Canal du Centre, originally known as the Canal du Charollais, is a French canal running from Digoin, where it now joins the Canal latéral à la Loire, to the River Saône in Chalon-sur-Saône. It was opened in 1792 and was the first watershed canal allowing boats to pass from the north of France to the south. It is 112.1 km long and has 61 locks. Most of its traffic was generated by now abandoned coal mines at Montceau-les-Mines.
The canal was first suggested during the 16th century, under King Francis I and a detailed plan was prepared by Adam de Craponne in the time of Henry II. But nothing more happened until the Chief Engineer of Burgundy, Émiland Gauthey obtained building powers in 1783. He selected a route which joined the valleys of the Loire and Saône and provided adequate water supplies at the summit. The first stone was laid in 1784 by Prince de Condé and despite the intervention of exceptional floods on the Loire in 1790, which totally wrecked a new port in Digoin, and the Revolution, the works were completed in 1792.
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