The Wrightsville Canal – Postcard Image circa 1905

Before the age of railroads, canals were the engines of trade and economic growth.

They were the first large-scale infrastructure investments in the United States.

When New York State inaugurated the Erie Canal in 1825, Pennsylvania quickly enacted legislation to develop a canal system in the Commonwealth.

Canals linked cities and towns in northern Pennsylvania, but the busiest canals were built in south-central PA.

Baltimore and Philadelphia competed for swift and efficient means of accessing the agricultural and mining products of central Pennsylvania.

The continuous stream of water-borne traffic facilitated the movement of freedom-seekers on the Underground Railroad.

Canals were built on both sides of the lower Susquehanna River, the one from Wrightsville (on the west bank) was begun in 1836.

The growth of the railroads and the Civil War (which disrupted markets and supply routes) led to the canals decline by the 1860’s.

In an antique mall in Columbia, I found this postcard engraving of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal at Wrightsville.

Printed in the United States, the postcard is circa 1905.

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