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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Lower Chanceford Township in York County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Canal Boats

 
 
The Canal Boats Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Pfingsten, July 16, 2020
1. The Canal Boats Marker
Inscription.  
A great variety of boats traveled the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal. Fast-moving packet boats, which carried passengers and were pulled by horses, sometimes at a trot, always had the right of way when passing through the lock. Slower freight boats, each often hauling 150 tons of coal, had to compete vigorously for their right of way; the first boat through the lock was often the one whose crew had won the fistfight.

Other boats using the locks included sailing vessels, the occasional steam boat, and even rafts! Steam boat passage was frowned upon because of the possible damage they could deal to the canal walls. The rafts were among the most unique vessel to pass through the canal because they were not quite boats, but held floating, paying customers nonetheless. These boats were made of lumber and sized exactly to the width of the locks. The raftmen who attended these vessels lived in crude shacks on top of their loads as they were towed along the canal to the market. And finally, the "emigrant boats" - house boats, often ramshackle, were occupied by families with a taste for the vagabond life. Travel on the packet boats was an

Group of four markers and Lock 15 image. Click for full size.
By Bill Pfingsten, July 17, 2020
2. Group of four markers and Lock 15
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exciting blend of discomfort, inconvenience and adventure. Charles Dickens, the noted English author who toured America in 1842, wrote a charming account of his canal boat trip between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

"it was somewhat embarrassing at first... to have to duck nimbly every few minutes whenever the man at the helm cried Bridge and sometimes, when the cry was Low Bridge to lie down nearly flat. But custom familiarizes one to anything, and there were so many bridges that it took a very short time to get used to this."

"....Going below, I found suspended on either side of the cabin, three long tiers of hanging bookshelves... I descried on each shelf a sort of microscopic sheet and blanket; then I began dimly to comprehend that the passengers were the library, and that they were to be arranged edge-wise, on these shelves, till morning"

"The washing accommodations were primitive, There was a tin ladle chained to the deck with which every gentleman who thought it was necessary to cleanse himself (many were superior to this weakness), fishing the dirty water out of the canal, and poured it into a tin basin, secured in a like manner."

"At eight o'clock, the shelves being taken down and put away and the tables joined together, everybody sat down to the tea, coffee, bread, butter, salmon, shad, liver, steak, potatoes, pickles, ham, chops, black-puddings, and

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sausages..."

"And yet despite these oddities... there was much in this bode of travelling which I heartily enjoyed at the time, and look back upon with great pleasure."

Charles Dickens
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1842.
 
Location. 39° 47.975′ N, 76° 18.5′ W. Marker is in Lower Chanceford Township, Pennsylvania, in York County. Marker is on River Road. Marker is just north of Muddy Creek Access. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 389 River Rd, Airville PA 17302, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Canal Community (here, next to this marker); The Locks (within shouting distance of this marker); The Susquehanna & Tidewater Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); Lock No. 12 (approx. 1˝ miles away); Survivor of the Past (approx. 1˝ miles away); Welsh Slate Quarrymens' Cottages at Coulsontown (approx. 5.2 miles away); The Slate Splitters (approx. 5.2 miles away); The Welsh Immigrants (approx. 5.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lower Chanceford Township.

 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 6, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 18, 2020, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 33 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 18, 2020, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.
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Mar. 9, 2021