Havre De Grace To Restore Canal Lock

State Money Will Allow City To Complete Repairs

June 09, 1991|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,Staff writer

The repairs are 100 years overdue, but Havre de Grace has lined up money to restore the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal lock terminal to working order.

The City Council certified last month that enough money has been spent on the lock house and canal to qualify for a matching $300,000 state grant for the project.

The $300,000 grant, financed by a state Board of Public Works bond, will be used to finish the dredging of the lock, repair its walls,replace its gates and stabilize the canal shoreline. The money will also pay for a feasibility study for a scenic railroad north to Susquehanna State Park.

The project, which should go out to bid late this summer, would restore the lock to its condition in the mid-1800s, when Havre de Grace was a busy entry way for canal traffic traveling up the Susquehanna to Wrightsville, about 45 miles north in Pennsylvania.

"It will work just as it did when the canal was in operation," said Ellsworth Shank, curator and board member of the Susquehanna Museum in the city.

A boat will be docked in the lock so that visitors can watch it rise and fall with the water as the canal gates openand close.

The lock house is the site of the Susquehanna Museum and a restored swing bridge that mules crossed to drag barges and boats through the canal.

Havre de Grace was the southernmost terminal of the canal, which had 29 locks that served as waterway elevators for traffic to climb the otherwise unnavigable

Susquehanna River.

The privately owned canal began operating in 1840, with the help of a $1 million state bond. But the 1889 Johnstown flood helped wipe outthe interstate waterway, and railroads eventually doomed the company.

A three-year restoration of the terminal lock house began in 1979 as part of plans to restore the once-thriving canal between Havre de Grace and Susquehanna State Park, about three miles north.

The only problem is that the state Department of Natural Resources createda shad hatchery next to the canal river last spring that would be flooded by the opening and closing of the lock.

The lock might operate only in the fall, after the Department of Natural Resources releases the shad into the river, Havre de Grace planning chief Stan Ruchlewicz said.

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