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History - Union Canal - Page 1

The Union Canal was a towpath canal that existed in southeastern Pennsylvania in the United States during the 19th century. First proposed in 1690 to connect Philadelphia with the Susquehanna River, it ran approximately 75 mi (120 km) from Middletown on the Susquehanna below Harrisburg to Reading on the Schuylkill River. Although construction began in 1792 during the George Washington Administration, financial difficulties delayed its completion until 1827. Called the "Golden Link," it provided a critical early transportation route for the shipment of anthracite coal and lumber eastward to Philadelphia.  A branch canal from Water Works to Pine Grove passed through what is now Swatara State Park.  Remnants of the canal can still be seen in the park.

The Union Canal Company’s Branch Canal to Pine Grove had its beginnings as a 6.4 mile navigable feeder canal completed in November 1827. The Swatara Feeder, as it was called, ran from the Water Works Dam north along the Swatara Creek to Finnegan’s Dam about 2.4 miles north of Jonestown.  In 1828, work began to extend the canal to Pine Grove.  When completed, the canal ran approximately 21.6 miles along the Swatara Creek from Water Works to its terminus at the head of the Pine Grove Basin.  From the basin, the Union Canal Railroad forged north for approximately 3.6 miles to the southern end of the anthracite coal region at Lorberry Junction.

Union Canal Lock 2 Aqueduct
Aqueduct below Union Canal Lock 2                                            Dave Ravegum
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Last modified on 06/11/14