We provide the following listing to encourage canal restoration and spread information about reconstruction work:
The Hennepin Canal is a state park throughout its length from the Illinois River near Bureau to the Mississippi River, just south of Rock Island, and its feeder from Rock Falls to the main canal. It is watered throughout its length west of Lock 2. This distance also has a bike path its entire length. Lock 1 is in an undeveloped area of the park and still exists despite official information to the contrary. Currently (2010), there is an effort to restore navigation on the feeder and west of the junction through Locks 22, 23, & 24 to Genesco. See the Friends of the Hennepin Canal web site.
Delaware Canal – 60 miles long – Bristol to Easton
Locks 4 and 22/23 have been rebuilt and only lack hardware or gates to be operational
Lock 11 (the upper of 4 at New Hope) was being rebuilt to operational condition in 2004
The canal between Lock 11 and the aqueduct above was dredged in early 2004
There is much discussion of rebuilding the canal where it was destroyed in the 1950’s at Levittown. While the canal prism has not been rebuilt at Levittown, the shopping center that once obstructed the canal route has been replaced with new stores and parking, none of which obstruct the canal.
A meeting was held in April to discuss the impact of the Turnpike project to build a second Delaware River bridge, The bridge construction is ten years in the future, but there was much interest in improving the canal under the present bridge sooner. The turnpike commission admits to filling in the canal under the present bridge when that bridge was built in the 1950’s. The bridge and its piers do not actually impact the canal or its towpath.
Another obstruction to the canal route was the Snyder Elementary School in Bristol at the canal’s southern end. This school was built in the 1950s and expanded across the canal route. Eventually, the school became obsolete and a new school was built nearby, but off the canal route. In 2010, Snyder Elementary School was torn down, clearing the canal route.
Of the 16 obstructions to the canal south of Morrisville, the obstruction at US Rte. 1 was partially removed in July, 2004. Removal of the next obstruction south, the US Steel Railway line, is in design. This railway and New Tyburn Road were built by the state in the 1950s to serve the then new US Steel Fairless Plant. Both cross the canal on fills, but with sufficient elevation to clear the canal as they do adjacent roads and the Northeast Corridor Railway Line. The fills can be replaced by bridges or tunnels.
However, the canal was damaged by three 50 year floods in the fall of 2004, spring of 2005, and summer of 2006. Repair of the flood damage was reportedly completed in 2010.
The canal is watered as conditions permit from its junction with the Lehigh River at South Easton south to Jefferson Ave. in Bristol. The southern mile is filled in, but not built on. The canal is culverted at Levittown.
Lehigh Canal, Lower Division – 46 miles long – Jim Thorpe to Easton
Dam 9 (Easton), Dam 8 (Chain Dam), & Dam 7 (Allentown) have been replaced by concrete dams. Dam 6 & Dam 4 are breached. The other dams are missing.
Section 8 (Dam 8 to Outlet Lock) is restored, watered, and used for mule drawn boat rides.
Section 7 (Dam 7, Allentown to Lock 46) is watered from Dam 7 to Freemansburg and dry beyond.
Two canal sections of the navigation remain in water and are being developed as parks.
The Manayunk Canal in Philadelphia is being redeveloped from an industrial area. The canal is watered, but the guard lock at the upper end and the two lift locks at the lower end are derelict.
The Oakes Canal also is in water for the upstream 2-1/2 miles of its 3-1/2 length and is being developed as a park by the Schuylkill Canal Association. The association has restored the lock house at the upper Lock (# 60) and on May 1, 2005 reopened Lock 60 to navigation.
The Union Canal connected the Schuylkill Navigation at Reading to the Main Line Canal at Middletown. The summit level extended through Lebanon. On the northwest side of Lebanon, the summit level included a tunnel which is the oldest surviving transportation tunnel in the US. The tunnel has been restored and the canal on either side rewatered. On summer weekends, you can take a boat ride through the tunnel. This is the only currently navigable canal tunnel in the western hemisphere.
Delaware & Raritan Canal
The canal consisted of a 44 mile mainline from New Brunswick on the Raritan River to Bordentown on the Delaware River plus a 22 mile feeder along the east side of the Delaware River from Bulls Island to the main canal at Trenton.
None of the locks are operational.
The feeder is navigable by canoe for its entire length.
The main line consists of:
- A watered park in New Brunswick including the final lock.
- A filled-in section from there to Landing Lane. This piece is covered by highway.
- A watered, canoeable, and walkable 38 mile section from Landing Lane to Mulbury Road on the east side of Trenton. This section includes a recently opened pedestrian bridge over US Rte. 1 east of Trenton.
- A filled-in section through Trenton.
- A two mile derelict, silted in, tidal section south of Trenton to the Bordentown Lock 1. This section can be easily viewed from the new “River Line” light rail line. The towpath in this area is overgrown, but plans exist to open it.
Delaware & Hudson Canal – 108 miles long – Eddyville, NY to Honesdale, PA
In the Fall of 2003, the Corps of Engineers and the Nature Conservancy led a project to remove the right-hand dam of two from the Neversink River at Cuddebackville, NY. This concrete dam was built by a power company in the early 20th century. A twin dam (also concrete) in the left-hand channel which replaced the earlier canal company dam in the left-hand channel will remain to water the canal feeder despite its undermined condition.
Water: The canal is watered at the south end of the summit level at Cuddebackville and at the north end of the summit level from north of Wurtsboro to Summitville.
Barge Canal System
The 20th Century Erie, Champlain, Oswego, & Cayuga – Seneca Canals are all operational.
The Saranac Lake system including two locks is operational. Both locks are only accessible by water.
This canal at the eastern end of Long Island connects Great Peconic Bay and Shinnecock Bay. It includes a tide lock.
Ohio & Erie Canal
A long range project is underway to develop a “towpath” trail between Lake Erie at Cleveland and New Philadelphia. While the canal continues south of New Philadelphia, there is little interest in a trail by the involved counties. Currently, various segments are as follows:
Lake Erie – Harvard Ave., Cleveland: Being planned, but on the west side of the river as the east side canal route is blocked by a railroad yard and a steel mill.
Harvard Ave. – Rockside Road: Paved trail, open as part of Cleveland Metro Parks Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation.
Rockside Road – Riverview Road, Akron: open as part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Riverview Road – Lock 10 north: Open as part of Cascade Valley Metro Park
Lock 10 north – Lock 3 north: Open
Lock 3 north – Lock 1 south (at Snyder Ave): Open
Lock 1 south (at Snyder Ave) – Eastern Road: Open
Eastern Road – Vanderhoff Road: Open
Vanderhoff Road – Center Road, Clinton: Completed in 2006
Center Road – Towpath Court, Massillon: Open
Towpath Court- Massillon waste treatment plant: Alternate route being developed with segments open
Massillon waste treatment plant – north Navarre: Open
Route through Navarre: Being developed
South Navarre – west of Bolivar: Opened fall of 2003
Route through Bolivar including I-77 bridge and bridge at aqueduct: Being planned. Bridge over I-77 opened in 2007.
South of I-77, Bolivar – Rte. 800, Zoarville: Open
Rte. 800, Zoarville – Dover (New Philadelphia): Being planned
Water: The canal is watered as follows:
From about a mile south of Harvard Ave, Cleveland to Pinery Dam
From Lock 3 north in Akron to Lock 1 south, Barberton (about 10 miles)
From Lock 3 south (just north of Clinton) to Crystal Springs (north of Massillon)
Locks 38 north, 2 north, & 4 south are operational.
Miami & Erie Canal
Much of the towpath of the M & E Canal between Huber Heights and Delphos is open as public hiking trail. See the web site of MECCA (Miami & Erie Canal Corridor Association for more information. Most recently, Lock 1 north in New Bremen has been restored by the community and the lock house has been rebuilt. Lock 14 north has also been restored by the state. Lock 1 south at Lockington is to be rebuilt in 2011 (?). Lock 13 north has had a factory that was built over it, removed and the lock restored as a park in St. Marys. There are proposals to daylight a section of covered over canal in Delphos.
Muskingum River Navigation
This river navigation extends from Marietta, OH on the Ohio River north to Dresden, OH where it once joined a two mile branch of the Ohio & Erie Canal. The navigation was built by the state of Ohio, then was taken over by the Corps of Engineers, but has now reverted to the state as a state park. Lock 1 at Marietta was removed after changes in the elevations on the Ohio made it unnecessary. The other ten locks (2-11) are being gradually rebuilt by the state. Locks 2 thru 10 are now open on summer weekends and Lock 11 at Ellis is under rebuild. They are among the few hand operated lock systems in the US. Navigation is available on summer weekends.
The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum launched the replica, sailing canal boat, Lois McLure on July 3, 2004 at Burlington, VT. The boat was displayed at various sites around Lake Champlain that summer. In 2005, it cruised through the Champlain Canal to New York harbor and return. In 2007, a cruise out the Erie Canal was conducted. See the museum’s web site for details.
The Fox River, both Upper (above Lake Winnebago) and Lower (between Lake Winnebago and Green Bay of Lake Michigan) was made navigable by the State of Wisconsin and then taken over by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The upper end of the works connected to the Wisconsin River at Portage, WI by the Portage Canal. Down river of Portage, the Wisconsin is free flowing except for the power dam at Prairie du Sac which forms Lake Wisconsin. This dam has a non-operational lock.
Lower Fox River
The seventeen locks on the lower river are currently closed except for the lower two and the upper one. The system was transferred back to the State of Wisconsin in the fall of 2004 and there are plans to restore navigation. The plan includes replacing one of the locks (Rapide Croche, the third upstream from Green Bay) with a boat lift to act as a fish barrier.
In 2005, the 5 Kaukauna Locks were stabilized.
In 2006, the 4 Appleton Locks were restored. They were in very limited use in 2010 on some summer weekends.
In 2007, the locks in the Little Chute area were restored. The upper two were operational in 2010 on some summer weekends.
In 2008 & 2009, little was done due to funding issues.
In late 2010 the lowest of the 5 Kauhauna Locks is in design. It will be restored in 2011. The other 4 will then follow through 2014. Then, a boat lift and boat cleaning and inspection station will be installed at the Rapide Croche Lock site. The lock itself will not be restored.
The lower Fox River was expected to be reopened to through navigation in the summer of 2009, but this has been delayed by funding problems.
Upper Fox River
In the late 1950’s, the upper river and the Portage Canal (9 locks total) were closed to navigation. The Portage Canal (2 locks) has been restored, but the Fort Winnebago Lock is non operational and the Portage Lock is cut off from the Wisconsin River by a flood dike and sand bars. Locks on the upper river were dismantled or diked off and two dams were recently removed except for the lowest lock at Eureka which remained operational until about 2007. It was planned to replace the gates on this lock and return it to use in 2010. A dewatering and survey of the lock was conducted in October 2010. Eureka Lock is now reopened, reconnecting Berlin, WI to Lake Winnebago.