Pennsylvania Canal (West Branch Division) facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsWest Branch Pennsylvania Canal
Bald Eagle Crosscut Canal in Flemington in 2010
Map of historic Pennsylvania canals
|Main source||West Branch Susquehanna River
Farrandsville, Clinton County
558 ft (170 m)
|River mouth||Susquehanna River
Northumberland, Northumberland County
420 ft (130 m)
|Length||73 mi (117 km)|
|River system||Pennsylvania Canal|
|Original owner||Commonwealth of Pennsylvania|
The West Branch Division of the Pennsylvania Canal ran 73 miles (117 km) from the canal basin at Northumberland, Pennsylvania, at the confluence of the West Branch Susquehanna River with the main stem of the Susquehanna River, north through Muncy, then west through Williamsport, Jersey Shore, and Lock Haven to its terminus in Farrandsville. At its southern terminus in the Northumberland basin, the West Branch Canal met the North Branch Canal and the Susquehanna Division Canal. Through these connections to other divisions of the Pennsylvania Canal, it formed part of a multi-state water transportation system including the Main Line of Public Works.
Between Northumberland and Muncy, the canal lay east of the river. Beyond Muncy, where the river makes a right-angle turn, the canal lay to the north. Started in 1828 and completed in 1835, it had 19 lift locks overcoming a total vertical rise of about 140 feet (43 m). The locks, beginning with No. 13, slightly upstream of the Northumberland Canal Basin, and ending with No. 34 at Lockport, across the river from Lock Haven, included two guard locks and an outlet lock in addition to the 19 lift locks.
The state intended to extend the West Branch Canal from Farrandsville further upstream along the West Branch Susquehanna River to the mouth of Sinnemahoning Creek. Plans called for 33 miles (53 km) of canal, but the project was abandoned along with the idea that the West Branch Canal would eventually connect to the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania.
Additions to the West Branch Canal included the Bald Eagle Crosscut Canal, which ran 4 miles (6.4 km) through Lock Haven and Flemington along Bald Eagle Creek. It linked the West Branch Canal to a privately financed addition, the Bald Eagle and Spring Creek Navigation, that extended the canal system another 22 miles (35 km) to Bellefonte along Bald Eagle and Spring creeks. Beginning in 1837, large quantities of pig iron and bituminous coal traveled to distant markets via these canals.
The Lock Haven Dam (also known as the Dunnstown Dam), was built in the 19th century primarily to provide water to the West Branch Canal. Canal boats crossed the pool behind the dam using a cable ferry between Lock No. 35 on the Lock Haven (Bald Eagle Crosscut Canal) side of the river and Lock No. 34 on the Lockport (West Branch Canal) side, about 2,000 feet (610 m) downriver from the Jay Street Bridge.
In 1833, the state added a 0.75-mile (1.21 km) canal, the Lewisburg Cut, to connect the town of Lewisburg, 11 miles (18 km) north of Northumberland, to the system. The privately financed Muncy Cut, also only 0.75 miles (1.21 km) long, added a branch canal into Muncy, 20 miles (32 km) north of Northumberland.
|Northumberland Canal Basin|
|13||7.75 feet (2.36 m)||0.6 miles (1.0 km)||
|14||5.94 feet (1.81 m)||6.5 miles (10.5 km)||
||8.0 miles (12.9 km)||Lewisburg Cut outlet|
||8.2 miles (13.2 km)||Guard lock near Lewisburg Dam|
|17||6.12 feet (1.87 m)||10.2 miles (16.4 km)||Milton including Limestone Run Aqueduct|
|18||5.2 feet (1.6 m)||14.6 miles (23.5 km)||Watsontown|
|19||7.2 feet (2.2 m)||22 miles (35 km)||Montgomery|
|20||5.4 feet (1.6 m)||22.9 miles (36.9 km)||Muncy Dam Lock|
|21||5.5 feet (1.7 m)||24.0 miles (38.6 km)||
|22||5.5 feet (1.7 m)||26.2 miles (42.2 km)||Muncy|
|23||6.5 feet (2.0 m)||28.8 miles (46.3 km)||Wash Taylor's Locks|
|24||5.07 feet (1.55 m)||29 miles (47 km)||Near Hall's Station|
|25||6.12 feet (1.87 m)||33.2 miles (53.4 km)||Joe Phillips Lock|
|26||4.83 feet (1.47 m)||35.4 miles (57.0 km)||Head of White Water|
|27||6.3 feet (1.9 m)||36.2 miles (58.3 km)||Montoursville|
||41.2 miles (66.3 km)||East of Lycoming Creek aqueduct|
||50.2 miles (80.8 km)||Near Thomas Smith tract|
||51.7 miles (83.2 km)||Wild Man's Lock|
||53.9 miles (86.7 km)||Larry's Creek|
||56.4 miles (90.8 km)||Jersey Shore|
||66.4 miles (106.9 km)||Guard lock below Lock Haven Dam|
||68.4 miles (110.1 km)||Lockport|
||73.4 miles (118.1 km)||Terminus at Farrandsville|
Remnants of the canal exist along the West Branch Susquehanna River between Northumberland and Lock Haven. Canal walls made of stone still stand near Muncy, while other canal and lock remnants are preserved near Lock Haven. Archaeological work and restoration began in 2005 at the Muncy Canal Heritage Park and Nature Trail, 11 acres (4.5 ha) including remains of a towpath, a lock, a canal wall, and a lock tender's house. Part of the Bald Eagle Crosscut Canal still flows along Bald Eagle Creek through Flemington. Lock No. 32 has been preserved in Jersey Shore.
Points of interest
|Farrandsville||Populated place at the northern terminus|
|Williamsport||City near the midpoint of the canal|
|Northumberland||Town at the southern terminus|
Pennsylvania Canal (West Branch Division) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.