Canal Basin Park: A Profile in Interpretation
“Canal Basin Park not only preserves our history as an interpretive park, but also offers valuable green space and serves as a great venue for community concerts. Its planned use as a trail-head on the Main Line Canal Greenway will increase its importance by making Hollidaysburg a destination for trail users.”
In the 19th century, Hollidaysburg served as a critical link in the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal, connecting the canal with the Allegheny Portage Railroad at the foot of the Allegheny Mountains. Today, the town is a hub community in the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway™, preserving and commemorating Hollidaysburg’s canal heritage at Canal Basin Park and the Reiser House Visitor Center.
Canal Basin Park was conceived as a focal point to attract residents and visitors alike while telling the story of Hollidaysburg’s rich canal era heritage and early industrial activities. It also was intended to serve as a community gathering point, connector to other historic resources in the area, gateway to the downtown and trailhead for the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway™.
The Canal Basin Park project restored the dilapidated Victorian Reiser House, which now houses interactive interpretive exhibits focusing on the canal era. An unsightly utility pole storage yard was transformed into a community park with a performance amphitheater and walking trails including interpretive stations where the story of Hollidaysburg’s canal and industrial heritage is told. Archaeological excavation led to the reconstruction of an historic canal lock marking the connection between the upper and lower canal basins and even a play structure in the children’s playground takes the shape of a sectional canal boat, a design originated by a Hollidaysburg canal boat captain.
Canal Basin Park plays host to frequent community events and performances and offers those attending the opportunity to learn of the town’s canal era heritage.
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