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

Schuylkill Navigation Company

Schuylkill Navigation Company Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, November 20, 2020
1. Schuylkill Navigation Company Marker
The Conestoga Wagon
The Main Transportation Method Of The 1700's
During the 1700's, the trusty Conestoga wagon supported the westward expansion of the colonies. It was able to transport 8 tons of material about 15 miles per day, using 4-8 oxen. However, the roads were poor and frequently impassable in the winter and spring. Rivers became more useful in transporting products over long distances. Although the Schuylkill had great penetration into these developing areas, many sections weren't navigable due to waterflow and shallow areas. Increasingly, farmers would transport their products and goods to Baltimore using the placid Susquehanna River.

Initial Plans For The Schuylkill Canal
In the early 1800's, Philadelphia businessmen lobbied the legislature to approve the creation of the Schuylkill Navigation Company to create a series of canals, locks, and slackwater dams from Pottsville through Reading and down to Philadelphia. Approved in 1815, its initial construction was completed in 1825 by Irish work crews.

The path along the 108 miles of the Schuylkill was divided
Schuylkill Navigation Company Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, November 20, 2020
2. Schuylkill Navigation Company Marker
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into multiple sections for construction. The Girard canal section stretched from the Vincent Dam in Spring City up to Reading, and included the section here in Towpath Park. It was the longest of the canals in the system, stretching 22 miles.

Four Bargest Stop For A Rest Before Continuing Their Trip
After a few years of activity, the canal was handling far more traffic than originally expected. Large deposits of anthracite coal had been discovered and were shipped to the hungry furnaces near Philadelphia for smelting ore to create the metals that the growing country needed. The canal system was widened and deepened in 1834 and 1846 to keep pace with this growing demand. A single canal boat and its string of barges could carry more than a steam locomotive. It used only a few mules, and sustained a steady pace of 4 miles per hour. In 1859, the Canal carried almost 1.4 million tons of coal, and a corresponding amount of merchandise, a 60-fold increase from original expectations.

A Canal Maintenance Crew Takes A Break
Work crews were sent to inspect the sides of the canal, strengthen it, or to repair breeches when they occurred.

Schuylkill Navigation Company Certificate

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era
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Industry & CommerceRoads & VehiclesWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1815.
Location. 40° 13.429′ N, 75° 36.959′ W. Marker is in East Coventry Township, Pennsylvania, in Chester County. Marker can be reached from New Schuylkill Road 0.1 miles east of Peterman Road, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1675 New Schuylkill Rd, Pottstown PA 19465, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Life on the Canal (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Canal Construction (about 500 feet away); Towpath Park Historical Trail (about 700 feet away); The Grubb Mansion (approx. 1.4 miles away); Annie Wittenmyer (approx. 1.6 miles away); The Hill School (approx. 1.6 miles away); Pottstown Historical Society (approx. 1.9 miles away); Pottstown War Memorial (approx. 2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in East Coventry Township.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 27, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 21, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 32 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 21, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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Mar. 9, 2021