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

Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
 

Shenandoah Canal

 
 
Shenandoah Canal Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
1. Shenandoah Canal Marker
Inscription.  In 1806, workmen with hand tools widened and deepened this channel for cargo boats to bypass, or "skirt," the rapids in the Shenandoah River. Linked with many other skirting canals" en route to Washington, D.C., this passage became part of the Potowmack Canal system founded by George Washington. He envisioned these bypasses as the way to improve navigation on the Potomac River for trade with the western frontier.

Within thirty years, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (a continuous canal), the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and the Winchester & Potomac Railroad replaced this outdated transportation system. The obsolete canal became part of the waterpower system for the island's growing number of industries. Waste water from mill and foundry tailraces emptied into this former canal bed, which rejoined the Shenandoah downstream.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal series list.
 
Location. 39° 19.321′ N, 77° 44.061′ 
Shenandoah Canal and the Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
2. Shenandoah Canal and the Marker
W. Marker is in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in Jefferson County. Marker is on Shenandoah Street (Business U.S. 340), on the right when traveling east. Located on Virginius Island in Harpers Ferry National Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Harpers Ferry WV 25425, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Jefferson Rock (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Jefferson Rock (within shouting distance of this marker); Cotton Mill (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Water Tunnels (about 400 feet away); Revolutionary War Soldier (about 400 feet away); Nathan Cook Brackett (about 500 feet away); Jonathan Child House (about 500 feet away); Island Access (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harpers Ferry.
 
More about this marker. On the lower left is a drawing of a canal boat. Boatmen poling their long, narrow cargo boats, or bateaus, through this canal avoided a dangerous run through the rapids. On the right is a map of the Potomac River valley. Built between 1785 and 1802, the Potowmack Canal system included five bypasses that skirted the waterfalls of the Potomac River between Washington and Harpers Ferry. Adding bypasses along the Shenandoah River extended trade into its valley.
 
Shenandoah Canal image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
3. Shenandoah Canal
When the canal was modified for use with the mills, brick embankments retained the canal walls.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on May 14, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,077 times since then and 43 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on May 14, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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Nov. 27, 2020