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The Delaware & Hudson Transportation Heritage Council

A Brief History of the D&H Canal

What's In A Name:   D&HCCo stands for Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, whose canal and gravity railroad ran between the Lackawanna Valley in Pennsylvania and the Hudson River.

Hands Before Machines:  The 108-mile long D&H Canal and the 16-mile long D&H Gravity Railroad were built by hand and horsepower.

Big Business:  Roebling Delaware Aqueduct at Lackawaxen, PAThe D&H Canal Company was one of the country's first million-dollar private enterprise.

Engineering Feat: The D&H transportation system was an astonishing engineering accomplishment that was constructed under the direction of some of the best minds in early nineteenth-century America. John Roebling, who later designed the Brooklyn Bridge, designed and supervised the construction of four aqueducts to carry the D&H Canal over rivers. The Delaware Aqueduct (now known as the Roebling Bridge) at Lackawaxen, PA, is the oldest existing suspension bridge in America.

A Family Business:  Canal boat 'Little Freddie' and a working familyCanal boats were frequently operated by families, who lived on the boats during the shipping season. The mules that pulled the canal boats through the system were often led by the children of the family. The trip from Honesdale to Kingston, at one to three miles per hour, took between seven and ten days.

Opening Up The Region:  During the 70 years that the D&H transportation system was in operation between Carbondale and the Hudson River, many villages, towns, and cities were founded and/or developed along the line of the D&H canal and railroad, and a wide range of products were shipped to market through this transportation system.

D&H Canal Virtual Tour

Upper Delaware Virtual Tour
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 The National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River recently posted an “Upper Delaware Virtual Tour” on its website that includes a segment dedicated to the D&H Canal on its History and Culture tab. It offers videos and still images, set to music. The numerous other special qualities of the Upper Delaware River Valley are also depicted throughout the tour.


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Last updated:  November 1 2017