In its early years, the canal suffered from erosion and the decay of the wooden locks. Improvements to the canal were made in the 1840s, including the brick locks, and as a result the economy around it prospered. It began to decline in the 1870s. Railroads were being built all over the country and were far more efficient than canals. Other factors were bad rains in 1876 that damaged the canal and a yellow fever outbreak that killed 1,000 people. By 1890 the canal was essentially no longer used.