“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Upper Black Eddy in Bucks County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Canal Boats



— Delaware Canal Lock 19 State Park —

Canal Boats Marker image. Click for full size.
By TeamOHE, October 18, 2019
1. Canal Boats Marker
Inscription.  "I remember one day, my dad grabbed both the driver and captain and threw them in the canal. My dog Buster, got one of the captains by the seat of the pants and really tore his pants off. He got his wife to steer while he went in the cabin to get on another pair of pants-just by acting fresh."

Flora Henry

"Hinge” boats were popular because they were more flexible. You can see both sections side by side at the top of the photograph.


American canal boats met standards as unique as their canals. Here, the preferred boat met Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company's specifications of 87.5 feet long, 10.5 feet wide and 7.5 feet tall. The wooden "hinge” boats carried up to 100 tons of cargo.

Private boatyards built and repaired boats along the Delaware Canal at Uhlerstown, Erwinna, Upper Black Eddy, Point Pleasant, New Hope and Bristol. The major Company-owned boatyards operated in Weissport and Laury's Station on the Lehigh Navigation.

Hinge Boats

Boat captains liked the flexibility of the "hinge” boat. They separated

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the two sections easily by removing center connecting pins. This boat effortlessly turned in the narrow Delaware Canal and handily hauled two types of freight. The two sections traveled on the inclined planes of New Jersey's Morris Canal eliminating the need for load transfers.

Passing Rules

In 1833, rules established by the Canal Commissioners allowed the "light” (unloaded) boat the right-of-way when two boats met. The loaded boat steered to the side opposite the towpath and stopped their mules. The tow line sank to the canal bottom. The lighter boat, traveling higher in the water, passed over the line. Both then continued on their way.

When boats approached each other, difficulties sometimes arose. Fights often began when a faster boat could not pass a slower boat. After all, they made money by the load... and time was money.

A canal boat passes through New Hope. This proud "Chunker" captain owns his own boat-unusual in this canal.

This 1886 photograph shows an unidentified locktender enjoying a rare restful moment on a canal boat.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Delaware Canal (AKA Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania Canal) series list.
Location. 40° 

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32.967′ N, 75° 5.083′ W. Marker is in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, in Bucks County. Marker is on Sanctuary Hill Circle, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Upper Black Eddy PA 18972, 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. Delaware Canal (here, next to this marker); Life Along The Canal (here, next to this marker); Mules and Men (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Delaware Canal (a few steps from this marker); Veterans Memorial, Bridgeton Twp (approx. 1.4 miles away); Milford Railroad (approx. 1.4 miles away in New Jersey); Train Disaster (approx. 1.4 miles away in New Jersey); Frenchtown World War 1 Monument (approx. 1.6 miles away in New Jersey). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Upper Black Eddy.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 31, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 30, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 29 times since then and 3 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on December 30, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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Mar. 3, 2021