August 9th 1757 was the birthdate of engineer Thomas Telford. Telford was the mastermind behind the Caledonian Canal - a canal system that connected the North East and North West, from Inverness (east) running southwest to Fort William (west). This canal opened up the highlands to commerce following the depression created by the Highland Clearances. The canal is 62 miles long and has 29 locks. It is built along a natural fault line known as the Great Glen. The Great Glen houses several lochs and the Caledonian Canal with its lock system helped to join these waterways together.
Telford was also the mastermind behind much of the Highland road system which opened even more of the highlands to consumers once land vehicles became a more prevalent means of transportation.