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American waterway 14 miles (22 km) long connecting the head of the Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River estuary. The canal cuts across the narrow northern neck of the 180-mile- (290-kilometre-) long Delmarva Peninsula, thereby providing shortened northern and European routes from the Atlantic Ocean to Baltimore. Completed in 1829, the privately owned canal operated with locks until 1919, when the United States government bought it and converted it to a tidal, toll-free waterway 27 feet (8 m) deep. Between 1962 and 1981 the waterway was deepened to 35 feet (11 m) and widened to 450 feet (137 m) to accommodate container ships.