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Schuylkill River Canal

2008.03.09
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A tiny, restored section of the canal running alongside the Schuylkill River. This section is in East Coventry Township, Chester County, PA.

And yes, the boneheaded photographer forgot to take off the UV filter before putting on the polarizer, hence the dark corners of the photo.
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The old towpath, used by mules to pull canal boats and barges downstream to Philadelphia, is now a walking trail. The canal is to the left, and the river to the right.
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The old towpath, now a walking trail, with the Schuylkill River off to the left.
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A canoe waiting for Spring... The Schuylkill River flooding a low-lying area below the towpath, thanks to all the rain we've been getting.
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Schuylkill River
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Schuylkill River
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In 1815, as the Conestoga Wagons of the 1700's proved inadequate to transport goods to Philadelphia, the Schuylkill Navigation Company was formed. The Schuylkill River drops only 618 feet over the 108 miles between Pottsville, PA (above Reading, PA) down to Philadelphia, and was ideally suited for water transportation of goods.

In order for mules to pull the barges of goods along the river, the water had to be still. This was accomplished by a series of 32 dams, 23 canals, and 109 lift locks. Built between 1815 and 1825 by largely Irish work crews, the largest section of canal was the Girard section, running for 22 miles along the river. A towpath along the canal and river allowed a small number of oxen to pull large barges downstream. A single canal boat and its string of barges used only a few mules, could carry more than a steam locomotive, and sustained a steady pace of 4 miles per hour.

Originally intended to carry produce and products from farmers to the growing city, demand for anthracite coal exponentially increased canal traffic. By 1859, the canal carried almost 1.4 million tons of coal and a corresponding amount of merchandise, a 60-fold increase from original expectations.

Eventually, the railroad surpassed the canal system's capacity, and the expense of maintaining the canals and locks ended the river's dominance in transportation. Most of the canals and nearly all the locks are gone. Small sections of the canal like the one show here are preserved in parks such as this one in East Coventry Township, Chester County, PA. Many of the old towpaths are now walking/biking trails, and are a lovely way to get some exercise, not to mention a few photos for photoblog!
8 Comments
JanetLippincott Good info, Liz! I like the very intense blues. Seems to have worked out for the good and the rounded effect is fitting.
JanetLippincott · 2008-03-11: 00:01
basisimages Love them! Great shots as they are, filter accident notwithstanding. I like the bluish caste, too. Looks like you could play with WB and tint to get quite different effects (if you like that sort of thing!!??)
basisimages · 2008-03-11: 07:17
dadlak Thanks for the history lesson and photos..I grew up in NY State and heard much the same story about the Erie Canal system. Didn't know about the Schuylkill.
dadlak · 2008-03-11: 15:06
photopoet What a wonderful place to walk. I love this series of photos. The tow path photos are so inviting.
photopoet · 2008-03-11: 17:47
Madoc Wow! That place is fantastic!
Very beautiful photos, especially #1 & 4.
Superb!
Madoc · 2008-03-12: 22:20
coyoteself They are all good, but I Love the last one!!!
coyoteself · 2008-03-13: 17:50
????? Great set!
????? · 2008-03-14: 16:46
????? Some great history. So much work in these projects - hard to imagine. I like the colours - the sky, the reflections/shadows. You seem to have cropped #5 and it may have made it better than without the filter?!
????? · 2008-03-26: 21:09
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Views: 690
Category: Historical Areas
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Tagged: schuylkillriver canal
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