Building the C&D Canal
Although the idea of a waterway crossing the upper Delmarva peninsula was suggested in the 1600s, the canal did not become a reality until 1829. Over 2,600 workers, including many Irish immigrant and African-American laborers, dug the canal with picks and shovels for wages of 75’ a day. When they were done, they had created a 14-mile long ditch that was ten feet deep and sixty feet wide, with four locks to carry ships over high and low waters, shortening the water route between Philadelphia and Baltimore by more than 300 miles.
At right, a token minted in 1825 as scrip for payment to laborers working on the C&D Canal.
The United States government purchased the canal from the private corporation in 1919. By 1927, the Army Corps of Engineers had relocated the Delaware River entrance of the canal to Reedy Point, two miles south of Delaware City. The Corps also eliminated the need for locks by dredging the waterway into a sea-level passage. The branch of the original canal that passes through Delaware City connects with the main C&D Canal two miles inland.
The early drawing above shows the
The canal opened on October 17, 1829, with great celebrations. All manner of craft used it. Initially horse- and mule-drawn barges predominated, but eventually steam powered vessels made up the majority of canal traffic.
Erected by City of Delaware City, Delaware; Delaware Land & Water Conservation Trust Fund.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical date for this entry is October 17, 1829.
Location. 39° 34.708′ N, 75° 35.266′ W. Marker is in Delaware City, Delaware, in New Castle County. Marker is on Clinton Street, 0.1 miles south of Harbor Street when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 55 Clinton St, Delaware City DE 19706, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Historic Delaware City (a few steps from this marker); The Lock at Delaware City (within shouting distance of this marker); The Diving Bell (within shouting distance of this marker); Fishing, Hunting & Trapping
Credits. This page was last revised on June 2, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 2, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 78 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 2, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.