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Pennsylvania Canal

  • Forum Building, Walnut St. at 5th St. Harrisburg, PA

Actually a system of several canals, the Pennsylvania Canal was one of three components of Pennsylvania’s Main Line of Public Works. The state-owned Main Line was the first transportation system to directly link Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The 395 mile long system was constructed between 1826 and 1834, and was comprised of two horse-powered railroads, the short line Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad, the Allegheny Portage Railroad, and the Eastern and Juniata Divisions of the Pennsylvania Canal. The canal system would cost more than $10 million and required an enormous labor force, many of who were Irish immigrants recruited through newspaper ads placed in Ireland. The canals were not profitable and required frequent and expensive maintenance and could not operate during frozen winter months. Pennsylvania sold the canal system to the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1857. It was abandoned in 1860.