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Delaware and Hudson Canal and Gravity Railroad - Upper Delaware, PA/NY

Historic Site or District
Archives of Delaware & Hudson Canal Historical Society, High Falls, NY

A Brief History of the D&H Canal Company

The Delaware and Hudson Canal Company built and operated a canal and gravity railroad between the Lackawanna Valley in Pennsylvania and the Hudson River from 1828 to 1898. The 108-mile long canal and 16-mile long gravity railroad were built by hand and horsepower. The enterprise was one of the country's first million-dollar private enterprises.

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 mid-century 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.

Canal 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.

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.

Many sites in the Lackawanna, Delaware and Hudson valleys are dedicated to preserving remnants of the D&H and presenting its history. For a list of these sites please visit the Delaware & Hudson Transportation Heritage Council.

Time Period Represented

19th century

Nearby Places