On this Day in History: Fatal Accident Occurs on the Susquehanna Tidewater Canal

On This Day in History

1851 Map of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, highlighting the Safe Harbor transfer area between the Conestoga Navigation and Susquehanna Tidewater Canals

The Columbia Spy
April 9, 1859

Fatal Accident on the Tidewater Canal
On Thursday last, an accident occurred on the Tide Water Canal at Lockport, by which Isaac Pearce, a boat hand, lost his life. Lockport is opposite the mouth of the Conestoga and the point at which boats from and to Safe Harbor and the Conestoga navigation enter and leave the canal.

The boat was about entering the river, and Pearce was staying her headway with a pole. The pole was caught by the tow-path bridge over the outlet, and as the unfortunate man stooped to avoid the obstruction, his head was caught between one of the braces of the bridge and the cabin of the boat and ground to a horrible mass, killing him instantly.

The deceased was a resident of York County, near York Furnace Bridge.

April 09, 1859, edition of The Columbia Spy.
Red Rover approaching Lock 6 on the Conestoga near Safe Harbor.

Learn More

Learn more at The Lock House Museum – the museum of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal. Their mission is to showcase the impact of the Susquehanna & Tidewater Canal on the region by expanding and preserving the historic collection by creating a memorable and stimulating experience through oral and visual demonstrations depicting life along our canal during the 19th century. They are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 to 5 pm.

Lock House Museum

Adventure Awaits!

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Side Quest: Investigate the ruins of Lock 12

Lock 12 of the old Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal

Lock 12 is one of the most well-preserved locks of the old Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal. It paralleled the Susquehanna River for 43 miles between Wrightsville and Havre de Grace, Maryland. It was built between 1836 and 1839 and opened in 1840 for commerce between the greater Harrisburg area and the Chesapeake Bay. The canal carried lumber, coal, iron, and grain bound for Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York until it was abandoned in 1895. Click here to read more.

Port of Lancaster and the Curious Etymology of Safe Harbor’s Name

Port of Lancaster sign at Safe Harbor.
Port of Lancaster sign at Safe Harbor.

Where does the name Safe Harbor originate? One theory suggests that river crews knew the deepwater there was a “safe harbor” before facing the treacherous rapids further south. However, there’s a second, much more interesting theory. William Penn had plans to create a “New Philadelphia” on the banks of the Susquehanna, and the port for this major city would have been at Safe Harbor. Click here to read more.


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