Universal York

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Early Port on the Susquehanna River

1864 Bridgen’s map of Conestoga Township showing dam.

1860 Shearer & Lake map of Chanceford Township.
A friend recently alerted me to an article about the port of Safe Harbor on the east bank of the Susquehanna River. The article referred to the Conestoga Navigation, which operated from the late 1820s to around 1850. It was an 18-mile-long slack water navigation utilizing the Conestoga Creek with a system of nine locks. It ended at Safe Harbor on the Susquehanna River. Where did the cargo go from there?

The boats, when the river was high enough, could then continue downstream to the Chesapeake and on to Baltimore. After the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal was completed in 1840, transporting goods from the Conestoga became easier. A dam was built across the river just below Safe Harbor. That allowed enough depth of water in the rocky river for a boat channel across the river. As you can see by both maps above, the channel cut across a large island to Chanceford Township in York County at the location still known as Lockport. There was an outlet lock at Lockport allowing entry to the canal. (I would say that is how Lockport got its name.) Most of that island and some others north of it have been under water since the construction of the Safe Harbor hydroelectric dam.
There was a similar system, known as the Codorus Navigation, which carried boats and rafts to and from York to the Susquehanna. I’ll write more on that later.
Click here for the recent article from the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal.
For more on Pennsylvania’s canals, including a database of information compiled by York County native William H. Shank, click here and follow the link “Canal Information and Data Sheets.”
For more on the Conestoga area click here.
Click the links below for more on the Susquehanna and Tide Water Canal.
Bridge at York Furnace.
Wrightsville busy.
Click below for Susquehanna River links.
Holtwood Dam.
New Wrightsville-Columbia bridge.
U.S. capital on the Susquehanna.