Conewago Canal aided Susquehanna River navigation
Codorus Navigation, the system that made the Codorus navigable in the 1830s, was not York County’s first canal. (See previous post: “York County rail trail extension to follow canal towpath.”)
In fact, York County boasted the first canal in Pennsylvania, completed in 1797. That man-made waterway helped rivermen navigate around the tricky Conewago Falls.. .
Jack Brubaker writes in “Down the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake” that the mile-long, 40-foot-wide canal did not prove as popular because shallow-draft arks and log rafts soon managed to navigate the rapids, saving a wait at the canal and a 50-cent toll.
Canal Road, running from Adams County diagonally across York County, takes its name from the old canal.
Here’s a description from “Never to be Forgotten” on the Conewago Canal:
A canal … is completed around the Conewago Falls in York Haven in 1797. The canal provides boats with a slackwater pool so they could avoid the rapids caused by a steep drop in the river at that point. The canal helps increase traffic in Columbia and Wrightsville downstream. Philadelphia financiers invested $100,000 in the water-filled Conewago ditch, but it never brought a satisfactory return on their investment. The York Haven hydroelectric plant now makes use of the falls, a point where the river drops 19 feet in one-quarter mile.