The Rise and Fall of PA Canals Aug 27, 1938 part 2

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The Rise and Fall of PA Canals Aug 27, 1938 part 2 - SATURDAY EVENING The Rise necting Buffalo with...
SATURDAY EVENING The Rise necting Buffalo with Albany and the Hudson River, in 1825, however, however, that crystallized sentiment in Pennsylvania in favor of - "a vast program of internal improvements. improvements. Businessmen of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh saw in "Clinton's Big Ditch" the ruin of their trade, with all commerce diverted in the direction of New York. They saw in it also a successful canal in operation. operation. At Harrisburg in August, 1825, a canal convention was called to adopt resolutions urging the Legislature Legislature to take immediate action toward construction of a great canal system. It was attended by 113 delegates from forty - six counties counties of the State, although the plan was not without opposition, even at the convention, as reported by one writer who participated: "It was confidently asserted that the r..easure was impracticable impracticable that the resources of the State were inadequate for the purpose purpose that it would require an enormous and oppressive taxation, taxation, to which our citizens would not submit that, independent of these reasons, it would, if accomplished, accomplished, be extremely partial in its operation, as its benefits would be confined to certain parts of the . State, while large and important sections would be disbarred from them where as the burdens must be borne by the whole." , ' The upshot of the meeting was the adoption of six resolutions urging that the proposed canal system be deemed "indespensably necessary"; that its cost be re garded not an expenditure but an investment by the State to pro duce revenue and encourage in dustry; that all local objects should yield to allow an . undi vided exertion of the public strength in this great undertaking; and that the State should regard with satisfaction the efforts of her sister states to make extended improvements. improvements. The following year the Legislature Legislature passed "an act to provide for the commencement of a canal, to be constructed at the expense of the State, and to be styled the Pennsylvania Canal." Public Works Project One of the object of the canal program was to provide work relief relief to the PWA methods applied in the recent depression. One of the men interested in the project wrote: "By the time we shall have closed the improvements now under under contract, we shall have expended, expended, among our own citizens, about $15,000,000 dollars in about six years whereby we shall have incalculably added to their comfort, comfort, their happiness,, and their independence; independence; and enabled hundreds, hundreds, perhaps I might say thousands, thousands, of them, to relieve themselves themselves from the pressure of debts that threaten them with - ruin. "But this object, important as it is, being temporary, fades into insignificance, when compared with the permanent enhancement of the value of the lands of the State, of which no small part are raised in price from 50 to 250 per cent. ., "It elevates the character and , permanently improves the situation situation of thousands of our citizens, whose energies have been prostrated prostrated by the impossibility of sending any of their perishable productions to market, and by the enormous expense attending the transportation of what they did send - There was a time, some years since, when the wagoner had for the wagonage one half of the proceeds of the, flour sent to the Philadelphia market from the interior of the State. ; "The increased value of the agricultural productions sent from various parts of the State to this market, and the reduced price of the freight on them, and on the merchandise sent into the interior, would alone, independent of every other advantage, compensate for the whole expense of the system. "To crown the whole, there is reason to believe, that in fifteen or twenty years, the surplus revenues arising from our canals and Fall of Perina. Canals (Continued From Pge 8) and railroads, will have paid off the entire debt contracted for them, 'and will, moreover, afford a fund for the support of the government, government, and ample provision for public schools. 'A consummation devoutly to be wished' and con fidently, to be expected." Ground Turned at Harrlsburj ,On July 4, 1826, work on the Pennsylvania Canal was officially undertaken at Harrisburg, as Gov ernor Shulze ceremoniously turned the first spade of earth. The day was not only the Semi - Centennial of the founding of the Nation, but was also, by a strange coincidence, the day of the death of two former Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Six years later the canal was open and in operation here. The early commercial importance of waterways which had caused cities and towns to locate along the streams and rivers, fitted well into , the new program since the canals depended on natural streams for their water supply, The principal cities of the State, therefore, were located along the natural course of canals. The. Eastern Division of the Pennsylvania Canal, extending 46 miles from Columbia north to Clark's ' Ferry, was the section' which passed through Harrisburg. Its width was 40 feet at the water line and 28 feet, at the bottom, and its normal depth, four feet. The section included two guard locks and ten lift locks, each 17 feet wide and 90 long. There was a dam across the river at Clark's Ferry, where the boats crossed, the horse teams using the old wooden bridge. From Clark's Ferry the Sus quehanna Division extended north 39 miles along the west shore to Northumberland; the Juniata Division westward 89 miles to Huntingdon; and, the Millersburg Branch, 10 miles along the east bank of the Susquehanna to Millersburg Millersburg to tap the coal supply of the - Lykens. Mahantango and Powell Valleys. The Frankstown. Division ex tended a distance ' of 38 miles from Huntingdon's to. Hollidays. burg, with 43 locks .to gain an elevation of 331 feet. " . ' - . Mountain Boats ..., At HollidaysburgY the canal boats were placed on trucks to be borne across the steep mountain grades to an elevation oi H6i feet and then lowered down the western slope to Johnstown, where the canal resumed. Along this 36 - mile stretch, horse power was used part of the way, and on the steeper eraaes, caores drawn by stationary engines. From Johnstown, the boats could go on by water to Pittsburgh. In 1828 an overland railroad was built over the 80 - mile stretch between Philadelphia and the canal port at Columbia, thereby completing the link connecting the two great cities of Pennsylvania. The system was opened in March, 1834, after a total cost of $16,504, 655.84. Passengers traveling from Phil adelphia to Pittsburgh, a distance of 395 miles, made the trip in the then astonishing time of three and a half days, while ' freight moved slower, taking five or six days, Passenger fare from Philadelphia was: $3 to Harrisburg; $4.06 to Lewistown; $4:87 to Huntingdon; $5.50 to Hollidaysburg; $6.50 to Johnstown; and $7 to - Pittsburgh. Along the Susquehanna, a canal extended north from Northumberland Northumberland 60 miles to Nanticoke, and from there other canals went on to the coal region of Wilkes - Barre and Scranton and on northward, even io Lake Erie by way of Elmira, N. Y. Another canal branched out from Northumberland Northumberland to the lumber region of Muncy D"m and Lock Haven. Outlet to the Bay From Columbia the Susquehanna Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal extended extended south 45 miles to Havre de Grace from where the canal boats laden:v with , coal and other commodities commodities 'were drawn across Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore and other ports. Coal was taken from Nanticoke and other coal ports to New York by way of Havre de Grace and Chesapeake Bay, . entering the Delaware Canal at Chesapeake City, Md., and proceeding to the Delaware river, the Delaware and Raritan Canal, the Raritan river, Raritan Bay and Stateri Island Sound. A boat might make seven such trips a year, carrying 260 tons of freight at 88 cents a ton. At Middletown the Pennsylvania Canal was joined' by the Union Canal, running from the Schuyl kill river at a point near Reading. It had 93 Jocks for a descent of 519 feet m the course of its 77 miles. Near Lebanon this canal entered a tunnel 700 feet long beneath the rocky ridge near wuuapaniiia creeK. y ;a i " 1 1 . ' Other canals of this era in cluded the Schuylkill Canal, 110 miles from Fairmount to Mill Creek near Port Carbon; the Dela ware and Hudson Canal, 108 miles from Honesdale to Roundout; the Lehigh Canal, 46 miles from Mauch Chunk to Easton; the Dela ware Canal, 60 miles from Easton to Bristol; the Conestoga Canal, 18 miles from Safe Harbor to Lock Port near Lancaster; the Codorus Canal, 11 miles from York to York Haven; the Beaver Division, 25 miles from New Castle to the Ohio river; the French Creek Feeder Canal, 22 miles to provide Pittsburgh with, an outlet to Lake Erie. Considering the engineering problems involved in canal con struction, not to mention the labor required in an age before steam shovels, it sems almost incredible that such an extensive program could be undertaken and com pleted throughout the State within the short period of a few years. Yet such was the case. Boat Building The first boats used were flat barges and possibly canal boats brought in from other canals. Later, boat building became a thriving business in Pennsylvania at such places as Marietta, Middle - town, Dauphin, New Buffalo, Selinsgrove, Sunbury and Lewis - burg. The "chunkers" used to haul coal from Mauch Chunk, were built at Lewisburg. Other types were known as "countersterns," "bull heads," and "tooth picks." The West Branch, boats, used to haul lumber, were called "snap pers." v The "double boats," built at Espy .' for ' carrying coal to Baltimore, Baltimore, were made of iwo sections coupled together somewhat like railroad cars, the rear section could be swung to one side or an other, serving as a rudder. The boats generally were 85 feet long, 15 feet wide and from 8 to 10 feet high. Their capacity was approximately 130 tons. Company Company boats were painted white or yellow, with black or green trimming. trimming. Each had a number. The private boats showed more originality. They were painted any color and were elaborate or plain, according to the whim of thf owner, , These private boats had names for registration purposes some the name of their owners or skippers, some the names of towns or .places, some, humorous names, others sentimental. There was no more restriction than in the naming of a motor boat today. (This history of the rise and fall of the canals of Pennsylvania mill be concluded in next week's Sat urday Supplement). Past Grands' Picnic Approximately 300 persons attended the picnic of the Past Grands Association of Odd Fellows of Perry County at Sportsmen's Park, Marys - ville, on Thursday; of this week. The association is one of the largest 6f its kind in Central Pennsylvania. Games, contests and a picnic supper were on the program. of a be in

Clipped from Harrisburg Telegraph27 Aug 1938, SatPage 23

Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)27 Aug 1938, SatPage 23
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  • The Rise and Fall of PA Canals Aug 27, 1938 part 2

    oldisbest – 07 Dec 2014

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