The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, measuring only 70 miles, was first proposed in 1728. In 1856, the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal Company formed by the merger of the Virginia and North Carolina companies to construct the canal. The canal opened in January 1859, was used heavily in the Civil War, and was continually used until it was sold to the US Government in 1912. During WWII, huge amount of military and private cargo passed through the canal in order to keep it safe from submarine activity off the coast of North Carolina. The canal is now a part of the Intracoastal Waterway.