A crowd was gathered on a cloudy day to see what would happen at the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris, France. No one could stop watching the scene unfold in front of them, and it was a marvelous occasion. Everyone wished to get a peek as authorities started draining the murky waters within the canal.
The Canal Saint-Martin hadn’t seen sunlight in over two centuries, so no one knew what might be lurking inside the mysterious waters. What accumulated after about 200 years? What did they see when the canal got drained? You won’t believe some of the crazy things they found at the bottom of those canals.
Time to Drain
The authorities looked at the canal while the murky waters slowly receded. You don’t get such an opportunity every day to discover what secrets are hiding within the water. Parisians were sure to learn about the history of their beloved city!
Important Water Source
Napoleon Bonaparte had approved the project for completion. In fact, it had been created to provide safe drinking water to the 550,000 residents. However, that number grew significantly throughout the years, making it somewhat obsolete.
More Than That
Overall, Napoleon didn’t simply approve the plans for the canal to give water access to the residents. He believed that clean water would control the health problems within the city. Several reports of cholera and dysentery were found at that time.
The canal would deliver building materials and food to the Parisians because it was made to circle about three miles around the city. Two canals had the same purpose – Canal Saint-Denis and Canal de l’Ourcq.
The French Revolution
Though there were multiple canals constructed during the time frame, most people are more familiar with Canal Saint-Martin. The water source went underground between Bassin de l’Arsenal to Place de la Bastille. Its rich history made people want to know what was in the water.
This Parisian canal is a hangout spot for locals and tourists. Residents congregate in the cafes and near the Seine banks. However, tourists like to photograph the landmarks and bridges surrounding the waterway. Why did the authorities drain it, though?
At the Bottom
It’s clear that the canal underwent various changes throughout its existence. Every 10 or so years, the Parisian authorities tried to empty it to remove what was at the bottom. It wasn’t a routine clean-up, though.
Called the City of Light, Paris hid various secrets, and the canal’s murky water held many of them. What would be in the Canal Saint-Martin to capture the interests of Parisians? That’s part of the reason that many observed the draining operation.
The authorities drained Canal Saint-Martin in 2001. During that time, they removed roughly 40 tons of waste, including bullets, bombshells, and gold pennies. There was even a car in the water. What would they find this time?
Draining the canal was a huge undertaking, which took about three months to complete. There are roughly 3 million cubic feet of liquid. Likewise, the city spent about $10 million for the job, but it was necessary and crucial.
The authorities finished draining the canal water on January 7. It had been 15 years since it had been done, so the secrets within were finally revealed. Those bridges had held many people, and everyone was anxious to learn what was found.
This was a massive occasion because it was so rare to see the Canal Saint-Martin with no water inside. Onlookers were stunned at what they saw. In fact, it was surreal to peek into the bottom of the canal, which made everyone curious!
Workers drained the canal and left about 25 inches of water within. Then, they waded through it, searching for items that took up space. The crew caught about five tons of carp, trout, and bream, which were then relocated to other locations.
Plenty of Garbage
Many items had found their way into the canal over the years, which included various bicycles from the Velib car-sharing service. While the program added about 14,500 bikes to the streets, most ended up in the canal.
As the draining process went on, they found more items. Things like mopeds and wheelie bins were at the bottom of the canal, and they even saw a toilet! They had to be taken out because it led to more murkiness in the water.
Finding the Bottom
When interviewed, most residents compared this draining procedure to a treasure hunt for a submarine. They couldn’t believe how many bicycles were in the water. Some people thought they were stolen and thrown in to hide the evidence.
The Filthy City
One onlooker wasn’t shocked, claiming, “That’s Paris for you.” Most people think it’s filthy and has just gotten worse throughout the years. He was there for the initial draining, but he couldn’t say that there was similar rubbish. Maybe the kids used it as their personal trash can!
Peculiar Items Located
If you think that bicycles were strange, it’s even weirder to think that motorcycles were in the water. No one knows how they got to the bottom of the canal, but it wasn’t the only peculiar thing. Things just got odder!
Tons of Trash
Workers didn’t only find creatures and bicycles. There were other unexpected things, such as glass bottles, shopping bags, and traffic cones. Such findings didn’t pique interest. The residents were focused on the unusual items.
The Office Chair
Onlookers were quite puzzled to see an office chair within the waters. Witnesses were even skeptical about that discovery. How could such a thing get into the canal? Was the owner sick of working those long hours, tossing it out the window?!
Most people found it fun to develop theories about how the items got into the canal. One of them subjected to that was a suitcase. It was revolting to see after being within the murky waters for such a long time.
Traffic cones definitely don’t belong at the bottom of a canal. Who would have put them there? Maybe a driver got so filled with road rage that he took his frustration out on the cone. We may never know why it was there, though.
A shopping cart piqued a lot of interest. People wondered if someone accidentally pushed it into the canal after they had put their shopping bags in the vehicle. Others joked that someone had shopped until they had dropped. Regardless, it’s a little funny.
Saving the Fish
The workers continued to drain the water from the Canal Saint-Martin. In fact, they were focused on getting the fish to safety, spending about three full days catching and relocating them to a better environment.
Swimming in the River
Trash being in the canal was disheartening, but people had hope. The discoveries within the Canal Saint-Martin brought more attention to the littering issue in Paris. Leaders talked about the situation, saying that swimming might be possible in a few years.
Nobody understood how serious the issue was until the waterway was drained. The canal is considered prime real estate. However, Parisians paying the price for it weren’t aware of so many things within it.
Costly Real Estate
The waterway had appeared to be lush and aesthetically pleasing, which contributed to the high cost of real estate. Plus, it was an inspiration to the many artists in Paris. Street art is often decorating the walls of the banks, which added culture.
It took two decades for the three canals to be completed. These waterways made up about 80 miles if combined. The Canal Saint-Martin, however, only connected the Seine River and Canal de l’Ourcq, so it attracted more attention.
You probably know Paris a little, so you’re aware that the neighborhood near the Canal Saint-Martin has a vibrant nightlife scene. It used to be a quiet district, but now it attracts tons of young people, so there’s naturally more waste in this waterway.
Napoleon had approved the canal to be built in 1802. It took about one decade to do it. While that seems like a very long process, it was necessary to improve transportation for Parisian residents. Therefore, it was considered a worthwhile project.
The Canal Saint-Martin runs under La Bastille, and it originates from the Bassin de l’Arsenal of the Seine River. Then, the waterway moves near the Place de la Republique and makes its way to the Bassin de la Villette, which is at the north end. Finally, it meets with the Canal de l’Ourcq.
Cans and Bottles
Those who cleaned up the canal saw way too many cans and bottles while draining it. We aren’t talking about a few hundred. Once the draining operation was finished, there were literally hundreds of thousands of bottles and cans!
The Canal Saint-Martin is about three miles long and moves through the heart of the capital. This includes 10th arrondissement, which is known as a fashion-forward neighborhood. Likewise, the area has many tourist attractions.
More Great Finds
There were even more interesting things unearthed from the water. Crowds got a good look at what the workers found. Among them was a stereo, which was quite old-school. It had likely been down there for many years.
Cleaning a canal is quite a procedure, and it’s repeated periodically. However, they still found various vintage items. It’s crazy to think of how they sunk to the bottom, especially since some are older than the last cleaning!
More items were discovered as the water drained away. You’d expect filthy and old things in the Canal Saint-Martin. However, workers had many peculiar things, such as stuffed animals that seemed to be new other than wet.
The muddy chair below was submerged in the water and came out covered in moss. It was quite haunting to see. Automatically, it’s easy to come up with different scenarios as to why it was in the canal. Was someone angry, or was it an accident?
Workers had to spend hours making sure that things went correctly. Since they were responsible for everything, that meant relocating fish, cleaning, and renovating the double locks on the waterway. This took about three months to finish.
Because the scope of the job was so massive, it’s natural to have a large group of people involved in the completion of the project. Hundreds of workers were used to clean, and they worked efficiently to keep everyone safe while operating heavy machinery.
The Heavy Lifting
Cleaning a canal is risky because so many things could go wrong. Since the job happens once every decade, it’s exciting. There are many onlookers, and they have to stay safe while they peek into the empty canal!