Pennsylvania Canals Aug 27, 1938

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Pennsylvania Canals Aug 27, 1938 - E E 1 TlilB & y p P L E Mi E M f 0 . - M , V...
E E 1 TlilB & y p P L E Mi E M f 0 . - M , V ;HhvKnsf x&lcVvv &MV&r VJVtH'' 'v. ""( - w - ' spiral MJ&lSSfew l By TED REED I HE canals of Pennsylvania .once '.busy - thoroughfares of trade during a;; transi - r tional period sland stark and 4 forlorn today, having lost a finish race with the faster modes oi transportation. Opened little more 'than a' century ago . as a travel improvement over;the bumpy wagon trains and as the first profitable means of . conveying Pennsylvania's rich coal resources to outside markets, markets, the canals were short lived; The rapid' growth of railroads had not been anticipated. They stand in awesome ruins today mute reminders reminders of a late age that is moving fast into the pages of history. Gone But Not Forgotten " Though the canal is gone, it is not forgotten by some. Today, at Rolling Green Park, on the Susquehanna Trail near Selinsgrove, scores of veteran boatmen from all parts of the country have congregated for their yearly reunion in memory of the days they spent together along the Pennsylvania tow - paths. Annually, their ever - thinning ranks . assemble assemble to pay homage , to the members who have died to re - live in nostalgic memory the glorious life of a picturesque past.". To many of them, the canal was a living thing. It was part of their life. The old canal, which ran through the city a little to the west of Tenth street and was in operation operation until a short time after the turn of the - century, has many friends also among the older residents of Harrisburg. For young and old, it was a favprite swimming swimming hole. The boys would "hop" rides to Rock - ville or Middletown on the slow - moving barges, coming back later on returning boats. The canal packets likewise furnished an ideal mode of transportation transportation for large picnic groups on an outing. A New Day Was Seen Arising amid a scene of transportation methods methods of the most primitive sort, the canal was once heralded as the dawn of a new day' of progress. The idea itself , was not new, however, for Washington Washington had studied the possibility of a canal to connect the Potomac with the Ohio, - and Penn, as early as 1690, had dreamed of a waterway to join the Delaware with the Susquehanna. . . With the future of railroads, motorized high - Ways and air travel unforseen, the State at length undertook a lavish construction program, firm in the belief that canals would provide the main Donkey Trail Days Recalled As Veteran Boatmen Meet for Annual Reunion Near Sunbury avenues of trade for come. As Robert ; Fulton once wrote to Governor Mifflinf ,.V "The - time will: come when canals shall pass through every Vale wind round every hill and bind the whole country in one bond of social intercourse." intercourse." . ' : Rough and Rutty Roads ' That improvements were needed in the pre - canal days, there is no doubt. The early - roads were crooked, narrow lanes, penetrating deep into the forests. They were ungraded and undrained, full of stumps and stones and hindered by perilous perilous fords. ' The best travel then was by water, but rivers and streams, too were full of obstructions. The shallow, swift - flowing streams of the interior were filled with reefs and snags, although efforts had been made to clear channels of the,more seri - ous hazards. ; Before the turnpike was constructed "across the Allegheny mountains, a team of five or six horses would require three weeks to haul a two - ton cargo from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. : After the turnpike, such a team might transport a four - ton load .over the distance in from twelve to fifteen fifteen days. , But with the canal, the time from Philadelphia Philadelphia to 'Pittsburgh was reduced to six or seven days, the number of horses decreased by half and the size of the cargo boosted to a possible 150 tons. Freight was transported thus for approximately approximately one cent a pound. Packet Boat Travel The canal brought also new luxury m passenger passenger comfcrt. The packet boats, in their hey - ' day, were the ultimum of easy travel. Three neat boats, "The Dauphin," "The Northumberland" and "The Lycoming," plied regularly between Harrisburg and Williamsport during the summer months. .' . They were eighty feet long by twelve feet wide, - providing dining and sleeping accommodations accommodations for as many as 150 passengers; The top of the boats served, as a deck, and the windows below below were neatly screened with Venetian blinds. The sleeping berths were enclosed in green curtains, curtains, similar to those later adopted for Pullman ... ... ' - ; . ' ..' ; .. '. ' .. "sleepers." . ' These boats,. drawn by three horses, were manned by a crew consisting of the captain, two steersmen, two . ' bowsmen, a steward, two , cooks and a chambermaid. It was on a boat such as this - that Charles Dickens travel - , - ed from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh Pittsburgh , in 1842 during his ' American visit,, reported, in his "American Notes." 1 "During : the winter months when the canals , closed down, passenger travel would resort again to stage coaches. Such a line between Harrisburg and Williamsport was operated by William Cal - der of . Harrisburg and A. E. Kapp of Northumberland. These coaches, . drawn by four tforses, carried nine pas - sengers inside and five on the ' ' roof. They were built with a "boot" at the rear to hold the trunks and baggage, and another in front, where the driver sat by the mail bags.; The traveling traveling time to Williamsport was twenty - one hours, and the fare, four cents a mile. . : . There were inns and taverns where the coach would stop along the way,' particularly the old Priestley mansion in Northumberland, where a full - course dinner might be had for 25 cents, or a light lunch for 12 cents. : Horses were changed at seven intervals during the trip. Canals and Coal The rise of canals was closely allied with, the growth - of the anthracite industry. Hard coal, long thought, to be' inferior because it was difficult difficult to ignite, - came into slight use in this locality after the Revolutionary War. It became more widely used during the War of 1812, when the supply of English coal was cut off. . .. ' Before' canals, an , occasional , barge of coal would be floated down the river. Some of it was carried by wagons to Philadelphia, where house - ' ' . ' . to - house canvassers rang door bells, attempting to sell, not the handsful of coal they had with them, but the ida of anthracite and its advantages! . Lumber was floated down the river hi great rafts in those days. Other products of farm and forest were carried in barges specially, construct - . ed for the down - river trip. Since a return.against the current could not be made by water, the flats ; . and rafts frequently carried horses and . wagons to be used on the trip home. - The demand for anthracite grew, and with it grew a need for better means' of transporting it to markets. Just as canals in Pennsylvania owed their existence in part to coal,' so did anthracite later owe its great popularity to the access af - forded by the canals. But the canal system even - ' tually fell victim indirectly to the very industry which it helped to promote it succumbed to the rapid development of coalbufning railroads. "Clinton's Big Ditch" It was the completion of the Erie Canal, con - , (Continued on Pe 7) , r

Clipped from Harrisburg Telegraph27 Aug 1938, SatPage 24

Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)27 Aug 1938, SatPage 24
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  • Pennsylvania Canals Aug 27, 1938

    oldisbest – 07 Dec 2014

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