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Juniata Division Canal

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The Juniata Division of the Pennsylvania Canal was one of the five sections of the Pennsylvania Main Line of Public Works. It ran from the Eastern Division canal basin at Duncan's Island, 127 miles to the west to Hollidaysburg, where it met the Allegheny Portage Railroad. Completed in 1832, it was sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1857. The railroad continued to operate it until 1872.

Construction

Work began on the first 40 mile stretch west from Duncan's Island in 1827. Shortly thereafter the rest of the length was authorized. 86 locks were needed to handle the vertical lift of 584 feet from end to end. It had 25 aqueducts to cross tributaries of the Juniata River. In Hollidaysburg, three reservoirs were created to feed the canal with water. The canal basin at Hollidaysburg was 6 feet deep, 120 feet wide and 2 miles long.[1]

Construction was completed in 1832, and the first boat traveled on the canal between Huntingdon and Hollidaysburg on November 27, 1832. However, problems with the construction of the west end were found, and several bridges and aqueducts had to rebuilt before reopening in 1833.[2]

Ownership by the Railroad

The state sold the entire Main Line to the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1857. The railroad had no real interest in operating the canal, and shut down the Division in stages. It shut down the westmost 13 miles from Hollidaysburg and Williamsburg in 1872. The section from Williamsburg to Petersburg was shut down in 1875. Everything west of Huntingdon was deactivated by 1876. In 1888 the canal between Huntingdon and Newton Hamilton was abandoned, and the flood of 1889 stopped all traffic above Newport. It was decided not to repair the Juniata aqueduct in 1899, closing the door on the Juniata Division.[3]

A 1.5 mile section of canal has been restored and watered in Lewistown, Granville Township.[4] The canal basin in Hollidaysburg was renovated and opened as the Canal Basin Park in April 2002.[5]

References

  1. Historical Markers: Hollidaysburg Canal Basin
  2. William H. Shank, P.E. (2001) The Amazing Pennsylvania Canals ISBN 0933788371
  3. Robert McCullough and Walter Leuba (1976) The Pennsylvania Main Line Canal ISBN 0933788266
  4. The Locust Campground
  5. Hollidaysburg: Canal Basin Park