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Bristol in Bucks County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Life Along the Canal

Delaware Canal State Park

 
 
Life Along the Canal Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, November 27, 2010
1. Life Along the Canal Marker
Inscription. “We used to trade a lot along the canal, people who had vegetables and things, we’d give them coal and they’d give us cabbages, tomatoes and things like that. Then there were lock tenders whose wives made good bread. We’d give them coal for bread.” Mrs. Chester Mann, Boat Captain’s Daughter.

Canallers
You became a captain as young as sixteen by showing “The Company” what you could do. You demonstrated how to “snub” (slow down and brake for lock operations), keep accurate cargo records (pay base on number of miles hauled and coal tonnage delivered), and care for the mule team.

A boat’s “rig” consisted of mules, harness, tow lines, feed box, night hawker (headlight), stove and bilge pump. While some captains owned their boats, most rented them from Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. The captain hired a mule driver or used family as crew members.

The “Swampers” (Delaware Canal captains) and “Lehigh Dutchmen” (Lehigh Canal captains) ran the lengths of both canals. They loaded coal in Luzerne (1838-1862) or Carbon County, delivered it to Bristol, and returned to Seigfried (now Northampton) for their pay. Locktenders ended their day at 10:00 pm. When canallers reached the next lock, they stabled their mules for the night, made

Life Along the Canal Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, November 27, 2010
2. Life Along the Canal Marker
necessary repairs, and rested. At 4:00 am when locktenders began work, boats once more pressed forward.

Life on the Water
Canal boats provided primitive living conditions. The typical crew of two slept on deck or in the 8 x 10 foot cabin below. They prepared meals on a cook stove, enhancing their stored supplies with fresh food from locktenders or general stores. They enjoyed foods such as bread, flitch (bacon), coffee cured meats, eggs, fresh fruits, vegetables, an canned goods. Springs along the canal supplied drinking water kept in wooden barrels on deck.

Often, a canallers’s family came along for the ride. Children as young as seven drove the mules along the towpath. Wives took over cooking operations and shared steering responsibilities. During warmer months the canals were their entire world.
 
Erected by Friends of the Delaware Canal.
 
Location. 40° 6.336′ N, 74° 51.12′ W. Marker is in Bristol, Pennsylvania, in Bucks County. Marker is on Jefferson Avenue. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bristol PA 19007, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Pvt. Michael Dougherty (a few steps from this marker); Joseph Ridgway Grundy (approx. 0.6 miles

Life Along the Canal Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, November 27, 2010
3. Life Along the Canal Marker
away); Abraham Lincoln (approx. 0.6 miles away); Marker 19T (approx. 0.6 miles away); Lock No. 2 (approx. 0.7 miles away); Columbus 500 Celebration (approx. 0.8 miles away); The Basin (approx. 0.9 miles away); The Tidal Lock (approx. 0.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Bristol.
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
 
Life Along the Canal Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, November 27, 2010
4. Life Along the Canal Marker
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 227 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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