William Byrd II visited the swamp, just to the south, in 1728 while he was surveying the boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina. Byrd, and later George Washington, advocated construction of a canal through the swamp. Washington and his partners purchased some 50,000 acres, began to log them, and built a ditch to transport the timber. The Dismal Swamp Canal Company, formed in 1787 to connect the Chesapeake Bay with Albemarle Sound, began construction in 1793 and completed the canal in 1805. In 1974, the U.S. Congress created the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge to protect the swamp's fragile ecosystem.