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Can You Guess What's at the Bottom of This 200-Year-Old Canal?

People find all sorts of interesting things when they start digging. Sometimes they find the bones of prehistoric reptiles. Sometimes they find distinctive pottery shards from ancient peoples. On rare occasion, they might even find a precious object like a golden earring or gemstone ring. It doesn't matter if you are a ”professional digger” like an archaeologist or an amateur digger who doesn't mind getting dirty. Hunting for buried or even sunken objects is a fun adventure. Read about some city workers who looked deep down in a 200-year-old Paris canal. What they discovered certainly surprised them and we think it will surprise you too!

Paris, the City of Lights

Paris is a treasure trove for history lovers. The city was founded in the 3rd century B.C.

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Canal Digger

When Napolean came to power in the 18th century, he decided to have canals built to bring more fresh water into the city for its growing population.

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Canal Saint-Martin

One of the city's canals is the rather picturesque Canal Saint-Martin. Napoleon had it constructed in 1802.

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Symbol of the City

While the Eiffel Tower takes center stage as the city's iconic construction, the Canal Saint-Martin is a well-known attraction for locals.

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Local Hangout

The Canal Saint-Martin is located in an area with lots of clubs. Parisians and many visitors to the city enjoy congregating on the banks of this famous canal.

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Big City Litter

Like other major cities, Paris is not immune to litterbugs. People leave all sort of garbage around the streets and canals.

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Cleaning Plans

Because the Canal Saint-Martin is such a popular city attraction, officials decided it was time to give it a thorough cleaning. They had a feeling that trash might be lingering in its waters.

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Draining the Water

On a cold January day, the murky waters began draining.

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Saving the Fish

City workers relocated fish for the big cleaning.

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A Major Undertaking

Cleaning the canal was not like cleaning a pool. The city knew the project would span about three months. They put a lot of care into the planning, including the relocation of its fish.

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Shallow Water

The workers drained the canal to a depth of about 20 inches. This allowed them to relocate fish like bream and trout more easily.

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Finally Drained

On January 7th, the canal was emptied of the remaining water so the cleaning could begin.

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Cleaning Time

The project required many workers, and hordes of locals visited to watch the major project in action.

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Garbage

Workers expected to find a mountain of trash, but they might not have expected the excess of untraditional "garbage" also lining the canal floor.

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Bottles

The canal bottom was strewn with lots of empty bottles.

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Bicycles

The workers cleaning the canal were surprised to find several bicycles among the filth and debris.

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City Bikes

Many of the city's rental bikes were also found at the bottom of the canal--a discovery that surprised the cleaners.

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Motor Bikes

Even a pair of motor bikes were recovered from the drained canal. Why were these expensive pieces of transportation chucked into the water and never fished out?

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A Shopping Cart

At some point in the past, a shopping cart found its way into the Canal Saint-Martin.

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Old Tires

Old tires, too, managed to go for a long dip in the canal.

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Potty Time

An old toilet proved to be a most perplexing find for city workers. No doubt it confused the canal's fish even more!

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A Cell Phone

This pretty pink cell phone was found in the water-logged debris. I wonder if the owner ever came forward to claim it.

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A Boom Box

An old boom box was another unusual find.

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Vintage Stuff

The cleaning crew was quite surprised to find vintage and potentially valuable items among the debris. For one thing, they retrieved an old camera.

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Kingdom of Junk

All in all, the workers uncovered a lot of garbage along with expensive items like bicycles, cameras, toilets, and phones!

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Routine Cleanings

The city has plans to drain and clean the canal about every decade to preserve its health and beauty.

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Big Project

Draining and cleaning the canal is a major project, but it definitely doesn't lack for excitement and entertainment.

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What's Next?

In another ten years' time, who knows what they'll find! The canal could act as a short-term time capsule for decades to come.

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Cleaning Is Complete

After all the debris was removed, the city could let the water flow back into the Canal Saint-Martin.

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A Classic Paris Attraction

The clean canal is once again the pride of the city. Be sure to visit this attraction when you're in town.

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Nathan, Heywise Staff

Article WriterNathan, Heywise Staff

Let us introduce you to the Listicle Liege, the Article Aficionado, the one and only Nathan. Since creating his first photo collage at the age of five with images clipped from his mom’s Chatelaine magazines (all of them), it’s been nearly impossible to stem this one’s tide of visual learning. Be it the annals of history or the latest celeb gossip, Nathan has probably researched it, likely already has a folder of relevant photos on his desktop, and definitely learned a lot of interesting facts to go with those images. Whereas most well-read adults have bookshelves full of classic literature, Nathan’s stacks are composed of National Geographic and TIME special editions and a curated section of first-grade readers (for inspiration). If you prefer picture books to wordy novels, listicles by Nathan are right up your alley.

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