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Portage: A way or path by land at an interruption in a water route. During the fur trade era until the beginning of the 20th century explorers, fur traders, voyageurs and natives all traveled via water routes across North America. When there was a land break between two different water systems, these early travelers would have to "portage" or carry their cargo and boat or canoe by foot across land to the next waterway. On a long portage voyageurs would often use packhorses to carry heavier cargo.