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Near Hawley in Pike County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Pennsylvania's Delaware & Hudson Canal Park at Lock 31

Delaware & Hudson Canal Park at Lock 31

 
 
Pennsylvania's Delaware & Hudson Canal Park at Lock 31 Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 29, 2018
1. Pennsylvania's Delaware & Hudson Canal Park at Lock 31 Marker
Inscription.  

Locks raise and lower canal boats where the elevation of the land changes. The 972 feet elevation difference between Honesdale, PA on the left side of the blue diagram below, and Kingston, NY on the right side, is drawn using 108 steps. Each step represents a lock and a water level change or lock's lift of eight to twelve feet.

The 108* locks on the Delaware & Hudson Canal were numbered in order westward from Kingston, NY to Lackawaxen, PA and from Lackawaxen to Honesdale, PA. Find this lock on The Table of Distances on right. Boatmen would often refer to a lock by name rather than number. This lock was also known as Newcastle in an 1836 New York State Gazetteer, New Castle on a 1854 canal company map, in the Table of Distances on right, and later Weir's and O'Han's.

Locks also act as dams to maintain the water's level above and below each lock. Without locks, water in the canal would flow downhill like a river and a constant water supply would be needed to keep the canal navigable. It was the responsibility of the lock tender to maintain a 6-foot water level

Pennsylvania's Delaware & Hudson Canal Park at Lock 31 Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 29, 2018
2. Pennsylvania's Delaware & Hudson Canal Park at Lock 31 Marker
below his lock. The sluiceway or ditch on the opposite side of this lock, helped him do that by diverting water around the lock when the lock was idle and the gates were closed.

The thick stonewalls of the lock in front of you were lined with horizontal wooden planks nailed to vertical beams held in place by iron ties or stay bolts, anchored into the stonework. If you look closely, you can see this lock's remaining beams and bolts.

*During the 70 years the canal was open, the number of locks varied. This occurred when John Roebling's aqueducts in Lackawaxen, Cuddlebackville, and High Falls were built in 1848, changing the route of the canal. Also, Honesdale had a double lock which could be counted as one or two locks.

Locks with their many moving parts and swiftly moving water, were the sites of accidents. The flying crank at the drop gate, if not fatally, seriously injured many a well-trained lock tender.

"....the crew of a boat, which was in the lock at the time, was in danger of being drowned by the water, which came rushing down from the level above [when the drop gate itself gave way]. Boating was delayed some twelve hours."
- Wayne County Herald, October 25, 1877

"In addition to the ordinary dangers causing so great [a] loss of life on canals at all seasons, the close of navigation has its peculiar perils. Last week

Delaware & Hudson Canal Lock 31 Remnants image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 29, 2018
3. Delaware & Hudson Canal Lock 31 Remnants
one boatman had his left arm crushed in fragments between boat and lock wall and another, his right leg by slips on icy gunwales. Both were young Irishmen, and both are likely to lose their limbs."
- Kingston Democratic Journal, December 8, 1858

Originally, the gates at both ends on the locks were the balance beam type. (See diagram on right, bridge below lower gate is not shown for the sake of clarity.) Each operated independently, requiring two men to open them. But after 1850 a drop gate and hand operated machinery replaced the upper gates on your left (See diagram on left.) by which the upper and lower gates could be operated by one person from the shanty on the lower gate bridge. (See photo below of lock tender Sam Taylor at lock 32, west of Ellenville, NY, c. 1890s.) The shanty, located on the opposite side of the canal, was near the lock tender's house where he lived during canal season. The buried foundation is all that remains of this lock tender's house.

During the enlargement of the canal between 1841 and 1851, canal boats were enlarged to carry more coal per trip and locks were lengthened from their original 76 feet to 90 feet, by moving the lower gates. That is why there are two sets of gate recesses in the canal wall on the right side of this lock.

Water entered and exited the lock via openings in the gates called paddles

Delaware & Hudson Canal Park at Lock 31 Sign image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
4. Delaware & Hudson Canal Park at Lock 31 Sign
or wickets, which were also operated by the lock tender. (See diagram on left.) Locking through (See diagram below.) was an art, and with practice, took less time than moving the boat into or out of the lock.

[Locking through diagram caption reads]
A
— Lower gates closed, drop gate open, boat being towed into the lock
B — Boat snubbed to a stop and held steady while lower paddles are opened to drain lock
C — Lower gates open, tow rope attached, upper paddles partly open to swell boat out of lock
D — Lock is empty, boat is being towed in
E — Boat snubbed and held secure against surge as upper paddles are opened to fill lock
F — Lock is full, boat is being towed out

The cycle then began again to be repeated endlessly day after day, but never on Sundays. Locking time was 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the efficiency of the lock tender and the boatmen, which adds up to 29 hours locking time for the round trip.
 
Erected by Wayne County Historical Society, NPS, PHMC, PA DCNR, Lackawanna Heritage Valley, et al.
 
Location. 41° 29.61′ N, 75° 11.683′ W. Marker is near Hawley, Pennsylvania, in Pike

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County. Marker is on Texas Palmyra Highway (U.S. 6), on the right when traveling south. Marker is adjacent to the lock remnants at Delaware & Hudson Canal Park at Lock 31. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 179 Texas Palmyra Highway, Hawley PA 18428, 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. Daniels' Farmhouse at New Castle (within shouting distance of this marker); Delaware & Hudson Canal Company Boat Outline (within shouting distance of this marker); Daniels Farmhouse, D&H Canal Park at Lock 31 Towpath Trail and Riverside Trail (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Facts about the Delaware & Hudson Canal 1828-1898 (about 300 feet away); Bingham Park (approx. 1.1 miles away); 9/11 Memorial (approx. 1.2 miles away); War Memorial (approx. 1.2 miles away); History of Hawley (approx. 1.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hawley.
 
Also see . . .
1. Locking Through on the C&O Canal. (Submitted on August 22, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. How a Lock Works. (Submitted on August 22, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. The D & H Canal Park at Lock 31. (Submitted on August 22, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. D&H Canal Park at Lock 31 on Facebook. (Submitted on August 22, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
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Credits. This page was last revised on August 22, 2018. This page originally submitted on August 22, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 60 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 22, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   4. submitted on August 21, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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