Harford History

April 30, 2006

1840: BY RAIL AND CANAL

In the spring of 1840, two major transportation projects were completed, opening new avenues of trade for Harford County into Pennsylvania and Baltimore.

The Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad was extended from York, Pa., to Wrightsville, on the Susquehanna. From Wrightsville, the Tidewater Canal was opened to Havre de Grace.

The Susquehanna was not navigable above Lapidum and the inland roads were virtually impassable through the 19th century. Therefore, local farmers and tradesmen used the canal to transport coal, wheat and timber along the riverfront. Boats also connected the canal via the bay to other ports.

The canal measured about 45 miles in length and had 29 locks, nine of which were in Harford County. The locks enabled boats to travel from near sea level at Havre de Grace to more than 1,000 feet at Wrightsville.

[Sources: The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore and Ohio, the Nation's First Railroad by James D. Dilts. Around Susquehanna State Park by Linda Noll. Research by the Harford County Public Library.]

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