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Pennsylvania's Canal Era
1792-1931

  

                                  

Pennsylvania's canals were built during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The canals were dug by men whose tools were picks, shovels and wheelbarrows. Hard work, poor living conditions and disease took many lives. But it was these burly men and their "water highway" that began the industrial revolution and opened the northwest territory.

Throughout our new nation more that 4,000 miles of towpath canals were dug. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 1,356 miles of canals (more than in any other state) linked together her cities, villages, factories, mines and farms. Over the mighty Allegheny Mountains went the canal system. The echo of the boatmen's conch was heard far into the deep river valleys as the canal boats were pulled by horses and mules through Penn's woods.

Today one no longer hears the soft clip-clop of mule teams. Only the whisper of the wind sings softly among the wild flowers that cover the tow paths. Where once a brawny locktender watched for approaching boats, now, on a large stone that long ago held together the busy lock, a frog watches the approaching dragon fly.

You can still experience some of the long forgotten canal era which moved travelers and goods before the railroads snorted and smoked their way across our nation. Throughout Pennsylvania there are many places where reminders of the days of the canals can be seen. Some of these are outlined for you on the canal sites page.

 

   
 


Pa. Canal Society C/O Emrick Technology Center 2750 Hugh Moore Park Rd. Easton, Pa 18042 administrator@pacanalsociety.org