The River Reporter Special Sections Header

Clear sky
Clear sky
60.8 °F
May 26, 2016
River Reporter Facebook pageTRR TwitterRSS Search

On the path of history; Touring along the D&H Canal

This one-lane bridge crosses the Delaware River at Lackawaxen, PA. Where these motorcyclists ride was once an aqueduct filled with water to transport canal barges. Begun in 1847, this is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the U.S.

In Hawley, another large boat basin, the site of the current Bingham Park, served as a depot for another railroad that brought Pennsylvania Coal Company coal from Pittston to Hawley, and then onward via the canal to New York. The town was named after the company president Irad Hawley. In time, that railroad had passenger service west to Dunmore, PA. One of those railroad cars now sits at the public library next to the park.

At first, boats crossed the Delaware River at Lackawaxen, PA by means of a slack water dam, which allowed them to navigate across the river by slowing its flow. However that irritated the raftsmen, who relied on the river’s flow to float their timber rafts downstream. So in 1848, the canal was routed over the Delaware River by means of an aqueduct, while the logs tumbled below. Today, you can drive your car through the old aqueduct via Roebling Bridge in Lackawaxen.

While other canals were usually financed by the states, for example the great Erie Canal, the D&H was the result of private investment. It was one of the largest corporations of its time.

Progress, of course, was the enemy of the canal, which was eventually replaced by a railroad that hauled the coal to New York City. The canal was closed in 1898, and soon thereafter, the Roebling Bridge carried automobiles over the Delaware River.