History of the Canal

Even after more than two hundred years of industrial activity in its various incarnations, western Pennsylvania is still a wild and scenic place. It’s difficult to imagine what things used to be like before today’s highways, bridges, and railroads made it possible to zip from one ridge or valley to the next. The rugged topography which proved to be well-suited for coal extraction and the steep forests with seemingly endless timber supplies were formidable obstacles of yesteryear. The 2400-foot tall Allegheny Ridge (also called the Allegheny Front) was the most formidable of these barriers, until the era of Pennsylvania’s first major transportation improvement -the historic Pennsylvania Main Line Canal. Completed in 1834, the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal System paved the way for expansion westward from Philadelphia, across the Alleghenies to Pittsburgh, and beyond. A way of life sprang up along this corridor as Pennsylvania prepared for a century of nation-building. Communities along the route shared a common legacy. The Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway™ is the next chapter in this story.