THE SUSQUEHANNA AND TIDEWATER CANAL
Construction on the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal was begun in 1836 and completed in 1840. The 45 miles of canal ran from Havre de Grace at the top of the Chesapeake Bay to Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. It interconnected with nearly 4,000 miles of other canals throughout the Midwest and Eastern United States and opened central Pennsylvania to convenient trade with Philadelphia and Baltimore. A total of 29 locks, 19 in Pennsylvania and 10 in Maryland, raised or lowered canal boats a total of 233 feet to compensate for the elevation difference. The boats were pulled by mules. Lumber, farm products, and especially coal were the primary cargoes transported via the Canal during its heyday in the 1860s and 1870s. With the advent of the railroad, the role of canals began to decline. Railroads were faster, cheaper to maintain, and could operate 12 months a year. In fact, the Reading Railroad acquired the Canal in the 1870s, eventually selling it to an agent of the Philadelphia Electric Company in 1902 for the future construction of the Conowingo Dam. Thus ended the active life of the S & T Canal and the Canal Era in Havre de Grace.
THE LOCK HOUSE
While the Canal was in operation (1840 - 1890s), the Lock House, built in 1840, served ably in its dual roles of providing a residence for the Lock Tender and his family and an office for the Toll Collector. A brick two-story building about 30 feet deep and 37 feet long, it was nearly twice the size of the other lock houses on the Canal. It is of the late Greek Revival style reflecting the latest fashion of the time.
After Canal operations ceased around 1900, it served as a rental property for about 70 years at which time the property was leased to the City by the Philadelphia Electric Company for museum purposes. In turn, the City agreed to allow the Susquehanna Museum organization to become the caretakers of the building and to restore it so that the history of the Canal and Havre de Grace could be told. Extensive archaeological studies were conducted and the house was restored. In 1979, the Electric Company deeded the building and about 7 acres surrounding the Lock House to the City. In 1982 the building was rededicated and opened to the public as The Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace at the Lock House. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the seven acres of North Park containing the Lock House and the Canal Lock are designated a Historic Area.