|Pottsville Republican of June 28, 1887
At about twelve o’clock last night flames were discovered issuing from the large stables of the Schuylkill Navigation
Company, situated on Canal Street, Schuylkill Haven. The alarm was given and promptly responded to by the Rainbow
Hose Company, the only fire organization in the town, and the citizens generally, who at once set to work heroically to
stay the devouring element. But their efforts proved futile and within the short space of an hour the great wooden
structure, together with its contents, was a smoldering mass of ruins.
There were six mules and one horse in the doomed building all of which were roasted alive. It also contained a large
quantity of hay, straw, feed, harness and one or two wagons, all of which shared the one common fate. The stable was
very large, capable of accommodating two and three hundred head of stock and was in excellent repair. The loss is
estimated at about eight thousand dollars. The fire was the largest that has ever visited our neighboring borough, and
the peculiarly inflammable nature of the building precluded the possibility of staying the flames which illuminated the
country for miles around, attracting the attention of people in Pottsville who happened to be on the street at that hour.
The stables being somewhat isolated no damage was done to other buildings. The Hose company was highly commended
for the promptness with which they responded to the alarm and the manner in which they worked to stay the flames and
prevent their spreading to other property. It is not probable, under the circumstances, that the stables will be rebuilt.
|This is John Bausman, the lock tender at Lock 12
in Schuylkill Haven. Weighing over 400 pounds,
he died in the shed adjacent to the lock, built
especially for him since he was unable to fit
through the door of the lock house.
|The offices of the Schuylkill Navigation Company were located on Coal
Street. Here officials of the company pose for a photo in front of the
building. The photo is from the early 1880s.
|This postcard shows a canal lock within the
borough. It's exact location is not identified.
|This view looks south down the Schuylkill River toward the
Reading Railroad bridge which still stands. The bridge in
the foreground is a foot bridge which connected the end
of Saint Peter Street with the Irish Flat or the Island as it is
|This picture was taken from behind the former Saint
Matthew's Church on Dock Street looking north.
There are three church steeples on the right
belonging to from right; Saint James Episcopal, the
former Saint Ambrose Catholic and the former
Christ Lutheran churches.
|This view is of an old canal lock located in the area of the
current Hess Concrete business. On the left you can see
the former Christ Lutheran Church.
|This section contains pictures, information and
historical articles on the:
SCHUYLKILL NAVIGATION COMPANY OR
and it's relationship to Schuylkill Haven
|Canal boats in Schuylkill Haven near the
Reading Railroad bridge near Main Street.
|The three images below show the canal
as it passes through Schuylkill Haven.
|Canal boats crowd the
river at the Broadway
bridge circa 1878.
|Another scene near
the Broadway bridge.
The iron structure's
life span was from 1872
until 1930 when it was
replaced with the
|More canal boats on
the section running
through the town.
|The street now known as Parkway was once called Canal
Street. This image shows the canal as it existed in that
area in about 1885.
|This photo by H. S. Deibert in about 1882 shows
a boat ready to launch after construction in the
boat yard of Michael Shadel whose location
was in the area of Meck's Mill today.
|The shipping receipt above was issued by George H. Potts & Company at Schuylkill
Haven. This 1863 order was for egg and stove coal shipped on the canal boat, "Daniel
|From the front page of the Pottsville Republican of August 14, 1895....
|A SUICIDE UNEARTHED
|A Ghastly Find by Three
CAUSED BY A COPPERHEAD SNAKE
The Dead Body of a Middle-aged
Man in an Advanced state of
Decomposition - Near the Seven
Stars in North Manheim Township
|One of the most shocking cases of suicide ever revealed in this vicinity was brought to the light of day by a copperhead
snake this morning about nine o'clock at the second canal lock above the Seven Stars and almost opposite the site of the
late foot bridge heading from the pike across the Schuylkill River.
Three boys, William and Clifford Fisold, of 309 Schuylkill Avenue, and Richard Morrison, of 319 Schuylkill Avenue, were
picking elderberries along the old canal berm bank, when their attention was attracted by a copperhead snake, which
they followed. The serpent crawled over the old lock wall just where the upper gate was located, and the boys, peering
over after it were horrified to see the body of a man hanging by the neck to a strong leather belt strap, one end of which
was fastened to an iron eyelet projecting from the lock wall.
The stench was terrible and flies hovered about in countless myriads. Part of the hair had fallen from the head, one eye
hung out and the whole tongue protruded; in fact, the whole head was one mass of unrecognizable and blackened
That it was a most deliberate suicide or murder was proven by the bent knees, which were within a half foot of the
ground, and the extended hands held out at an angle of forty five degrees, indicating agony and determination. The
place is a most lonesome one and people might pass and repass within a few yards and never suspect anything of the
kind, the old canal bottom being thickly covered with bushes, trees, and undergrowth, so that it was necessary for the
Coroner and his jury to cut their way to the scene.
The man wore a common flannel overshirt, with a pocket on the left breast and cheap cheviot black pantaloons. The strap
was evidently run through the buckle, and the knot rested back of his left ear, the right side of his head being pressed
against the lock wall. He was of splendid physique and evidently a workingman or blacksmith. No trace of his hat or coat
could be found.
The boys ran to Pottsville and notified Deputy Coroner James J. Clemens, who summoned Robert walker and John J.
O'Connor, the latter of the "Republican", and with them proceeded to the scene where they found the facts as above
stated, and adjourned until Thursday morning at nine o'clock to hear further testimony.
Coroner Clemens notified the almshouse officials to remove the body, telling them to bring plenty of disinfectant. George
Rourke, of Palo Alto, Matthew and Joseph Skelly, of Pottsville, John Grady, Martin Goulden, and Edward McAvoy, of Mount
Carbon, were also summoned as witnesses.
The man was about fifty years old and had brown hair and mustache, and at first glance appeared to be colored. He has
been hanging there anywhere from two weeks to two months.
This afternoon, Steward Hartman, Keepers John W. Reese and Edward Hughes, of the almshouse, proceeded to the spot
with a dead box and wagon. Plenty of Werther's disinfectant was used to subdue the sickening stench, after which the
body was loaded up and taken to the almshouse cemetery. Coroner Clemens furnished his jurymen with cotton and they
plugged their nostrils with it.
|Pottsville Republican of January 30, 1888
At last the Reading Company have decided to abandon that portion of the Schuylkill Canal between Schuylkill Haven and
Port Clinton. This will be a stunning blow to our neighboring borough, Schuylkill Haven, although its severity is
neutralized by the fact that the company have been gradually withdrawing business from the canal for some time past and
many of Schuylkill Haven's boatmen have drifted away to other localities. It seems a pity that so much valuable property of
the company is to be abandoned and the boat yards above Port Clinton are to be wiped out of existence. But the fiat has
gone forth and so it must be.
|Pottsville Republican of June 7, 1888
Frank Palsgrove, employed by the P & R Company as a telegraph operator of Philadelphia, came to Schuylkill Haven, his
former home, to spend a short vacation. He was last seen about a week ago and this morning at eleven o'clock his dead
body was fished out of the canal near the lock into which he had no doubt fallen unobserved. He was about thirty years of
age, married and lost a leg on the railroad some years ago. The remains were taken in charge by his brother, James
Palsgrove, and will be interred at Schuylkill Haven. Deputy Coroner Palm empanelled a jury, who will examine the
circumstances of the occurrence, which is believed to have been accidental.
|Pottsville Republican of August 3, 1920
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN BOY DROWNS IN DOCK
The youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward McCord, of Schuylkill Haven, was drowned between six and seven o'clock
Tuesday evening. He with several other children were swimming in the old dock, at that place. The boys had finished
their swim and were getting ready to go home and noticed his clothing lying there. They gave the alarm but it was too
late. When John Henry plunged in to save him, he brought out his lifeless body.
|Pottsville Republican of June 28, 1926
DRAG CANAL FOR MURDER VICTIM, FOOT IS FOUND
Do the remains of a human being lay buried deep in the silt of the old Schuylkill Canal at Schuylkill Haven? That is the
question which is bothering the officials of that thriving borough, as well as Coroner L. T. Heim. Early Sunday evening,
Samuel Yeich found a foot buried partially in the mud near the car shops at the old docks. Realizing the gruesomeness of
his discovery, he immediately notified the borough officials and Coroner Heim in turn was called. He removed the foot
from the water and after careful examination pronounced it as that of either a boy or a man of exceedingly small stature.
It was taken to the morgue at the county almshouse where it is being held pending an attempt at identification. There are
however, no marks of any nature which might lead to some person identifying the member.
Several theories have been advanced as to how the foot came to be where it was, but no definite developments along
these lines have come about. The first thought is that a murder has been committed and that the foot is a part of a
dismembered body lying buried in the mud of the canal. The other is that the foot may have been brought to Schuylkill
Haven in a carload of dirt. The Reading company is filling in the old canal bed and it is possible that the foot was in one of
Asked as to whether efforts would be made to drain or drag the canal, Dr. Heim stated that neither plan was feasible.
Lying on the bottom of the canal is the wreck of at least one old canal boat and a lot of other debris which would interfere
greatly with any efforts of dragging. As far as draining the ditch is concerned, this hardly is possible. The nearest a fire
engine could be taken to the stream would be about 300 feet and would necessitate a lot of work to get the pool clear.
While the investigation is virtually at a standstill at the present time owing to the difficulties which face the authorities,
Coroner Heim and the other officials are following their investigations and are hopeful of getting results which will lead to
the solution of the mystery of the foot.
|Pottsville Republican of October 16, 1914
BODY OF MAN FOUND IN CANAL
On Friday morning about 10:30 o'clock while walking along the old towpath of the canal below Connor's Crossing, John
Bausman of Schuylkill Haven noticed the head of a man extending out of the water about twenty feet from shore and upon
close investigation, discovered that the remainder of the body was under water. He notified several people close by and
Coroner Moore was called up and told of the finding of the body. When the coroner arrived, he pulled the body out of the
water, assisted by Harry Sterner and ray Reed and the trio searched the man but found nothing that would lead to his
identity. The only thing found in his pockets were four keys, an old watch and a red handled knife. The body was then
removed to the almshouse where it will be kept until the postmortem is held Friday evening by Dr. L. Heim of Schuylkill
Haven. An inquest will likely follow tomorrow.
The place where the man was found is just a short distance to the rear of the Rudy Moyer coal yard. There is a road there
used by Moyer and Lord, coal dealers, for loading, and just a short distance from where he was found is a bridge about
eight feet long without any side railing. The general opinion is that the man had been going over the bridge and had
fallen into the water which is rather deep a short distance above there. He is about fifty five or sixty years of age and
weighs about 170 pounds. He is five feet eight inches in height, has sandy hair and a sandy mustache; he wore a blue
striped shirt, a bluish black vest and trousers, cotton stockings and a pair of laced shoes. He had no teeth in the upper
jaw and in the lower jaw there were but three teeth. His face about the eyes was swollen and very blue. Indications
pointed that he had been in the dock at least a week and probably twice that long. Parts of his body were very well
preserved, while other portions were decomposed.
THINK HIM AN ALMSHOUSE INMATE
Late Friday afternoon when the officials viewed the body, they asserted that the dead man was one of their inmates, Lewis
Krauskopf. Lewis left the almshouse last Saturday after his work had been done and said he was going in to Schuylkill
Haven. That was the last seen of him and officials thought that he had gone to Mahanoy City to the home of a claimant as
he did a short time ago. On the last occasion however, he got a pas to goto Mahanoy City, but the officials thought he
neglected to get the pass and had gone without one. While at the almshouse he was employed as a carpenter and when
he left he carried a watch, knife and some keys answering the description given. The keys will be tried in the doors at the
almshouse and in this way he will be identified. The decomposition of the upper part of the face makes it impossible to
identify him by his features. Krauskopf, according to the officials at the almshouse, is a former Mahanoy City resident and
is about 78 years of age. He was known as a first class carpenter at the almshouse and his partner carpenter when shown
the body said at once that it was Lewis.
|This picture, provided by Lewis Hoy, shows a
river coal dredging operation. This may be on
the old canal between Schuylkill Haven and
|A SCHUYLKILL HAVEN BLAZE
The Navigation Company’s Stables Burned
|The possibility of the end of the canal is foreseen...
|Pottsville Republican of September 22, 1887
THE "RAGING" CANAL
From all appearances, the days of the "raging canal" are almost at an end. Very few boats are being loaded at Schuylkill
Haven and there is hardly a day in the week that more than two boats pass down. The only up boat passing through the
locks below Schuylkill Haven yesterday was the "Bella McWilliams", of New York, a new boat just off the stocks of Adam's
boat yard at Landingville and built for the river trade. Should the canal be closed entirely it will be a terrible blow to
Landingville and Schuylkill Haven, the former of which depends entirely upon boat building. The boat yards of Adams and
Deibert at Landingville and Werner near Schuylkill Haven, have orders for boats for the river trade, which would keep
their men employed and busy until next summer, but the great fear is entertained that should the canal be kept closed
there will be no possibility of getting their boats to the Delaware River. Schuylkill Haven is already suffering from the
effects of the closing as it has thrown out of employment almost two thousand men, many of whom are from that place and
vicinity. The entire closing of the canal, we are assured, will hardly happen, as in all likelihood the Schuylkill Navigation
Company will take charge of affairs again in spring. We sympathize with our neighbors in the present state of affairs and
hope by the opening of the spring trade the canal business will again bloom as prosperous as in its palmiest days.
|BAUSMAN'S LOCK NUMBER 12
|This series of six photographs is from the Library of Congress archives.
According to the record it shows the Bausman Lock Number 12 in Schuylkill
Haven. The photos were taken in 1968. They were probably taken before
the redevelopment plan was enacted.
|The Call of March 5, 1892
THE OLD LANDINGS - At Schuylkill Haven No More the Scene of Activity
The old canal landings at Schuylkill Haven are rapidly going to decay and in a few years more there will be very little of it
to note, where at one time the canal boats were loaded with coal for market and everything was bustle and activity. The
dry docks on waterloo level, where boats were repaired and built can no longer be seen. The large building close to the
lock, which contained the offices of Superintendent T. C. Zulick, Paymaster Z. T. Galt, General Shipping Agent H. B. Zulick
and Collector W. A. Fields is now a private dwelling. The verdant lawn around the building where boatmen loitered in the
shade of the beautiful maples and talked of their many experiences on the raging canal, now presents a desolate and
deserted appearance. Below the canal docks the canal bed is entirely filled up with coal dirt washed there from the
mines by the freshets and where once boats floated without obstruction, you can now walk without wetting your feet and
so it is all the way to Port Clinton. Workmen are now employed between the latter place and Schuylkill Haven tearing out
parts of the locks to make the destruction more complete. At Port Clinton and as far as the city of Reading, the
Superintendent and Engineer of canals, E. F. Smith, is experiencing great trouble in keeping the channel open and that
part of the canal will also be abandoned in the near future on account of the coal dirt. The loading of boats is now done
at Port Clinton exclusively since the abandonment of shipping at Schuylkill Haven four years ago. The last few years the
canal trade has greatly decreased on account of the Philadelphia and Reading Company shipping their coal by rail and
individual operators find it much cheaper to send their coal to market by rail on account of the high tolls by canal.
Consequently what few boatmen still remain on the canal are becoming discouraged by the reduction of freight and the
increase of tolls, are selling out their interests for little or nothing and seeking other pursuits where they can make a
better living. Years ago the life of a boatman on the canal had generally always been a pleasant one with occasional
hardships. He was free and happy and always had a well filled purse and very seldom wanted for the necessaries of life.
He always lived well and saved enough during the boating season to keep he and his family comfortable during the
winter when ice made navigation impossible. Now everything is changed. The toot of the horn calling for the lock tender
to prepare the chamber for the boat's reception and the crack of the whip and yells of the driver at the slow plodding
mules are no longer heard. The canal itself has a sad and lonesome appearance and it is no wonder the eyes of the old
boatmen grow moist when they behold the deserted and grass growing ditch on which they spent so many happy and
prosperous days of their life.
|Long after the demise of the canal, remnants
abound reminding residents of what once was.....
|The Call of November 21, 1928
UNCOVERING OF CANAL LOCK RECALLS BOATING
First a surprise, and now considerable additional and difficult work is being experienced by the contracting firm erecting
the First National bank Building at Schuylkill Haven. This because of the fact that the large and heavy stone walls, bed
and gates of the abandoned Schuylkill canal were discovered in the back yard of the plot of ground upon which the bank
building will be built. Excavation for the walls disclosed first unusual heavy and large sized stones and further
investigation revealed the situation. During the week, there was in plain view the old heavy timbered lock gates, the
planked floor of the lock itself as well as the heavy stone walls of the lock. As the news of the discovery went about
town, many people have been gathering at the site. The older people of the town recall the scene of many years gone by
when the house of the lock tender stood upon the walls of the lock now being uncovered. They can describe in detail
conditions of former years and many recall the boating scenes and the part they played din an industry gone from the
The south wall of the lock has been exposed, and also the heavy upper gates, standing in the closed position in which
they have been since the last boat passed through, forty years ago. The upper part of the gates was chopped away many
years ago, but the lower part is still intact, and the heavy oak timbers seem as strong and solid as ever. The north wall of
the new building will stand inside the lock itself, the northeast corner coming right to the point where the two closed
section of the lock gates meet. This lock lies underneath the lots to the rear of the properties fronting on Main Street,
between Saint John Street and the railroad. After the abandonment of the canal in 1888 and the tearing out of the dam in
1895, the lock was gradually covered with dirt and refuse from time to time, to such an extent that the wall and gate now
uncovered lie from six to nine feet lower then the present elevation of Saint John Street at that point. As the result of
the contracting firm finding itself building in the lock of a canal, a considerable extra amount of work will be necessary
and the completion of the bank building itself will thus be delayed several months.
|The Call of April 19, 1929
OLD CANAL BOAT UNCOVERED AT CONNOR
During the excavating for the relocation of the state road between Schuylkill Haven and Pottsville, an old canal boat was
unearthed near the Five Locks at Connor. The boat was in a fairly good state of preservation and there has been some
interest shown as to how this boat happened to be abandoned at this point. Mr. Mellon of Schuylkill Haven,
Superintendent of the Gas and Water Department, is in a good position to know all about it, for it was he, who, as captain
of the tug that plied on the Schuylkill River years ago, placed the boat in its position. It was captain Mellon's duty as
captain of the tug to gather up at the end of the season all boats on the canal that were condemned by the company and
to place them at different points along the river, where they were dismantled and torn apart. The particular boat in
question was named Alice Matilda. It was owned by Richard McCormick of Philadelphia. The boat was condemned by the
Reading Company. It was of 180 ton capacity. It was run into the position where it was found in 1882. The condemnation
of the boat was strenuously protested by the owner and rather then be involved in a lawsuit, the boat was not torn apart.
The finding of this particular boat, states Mr. Mellon, recalls the fact that three other abandoned boats can be found by
investigation hereabouts. One, the Alfred Leidy, was abandoned by the river where the Hurst Washery is now operated.
There is another boat nearby. The third boat condemned but never torn apart could be found in the old lock along the
|The Call of April 26, 1929
NOT A CANAL BOAT THAT WAS FOUND
Recently it was stated that in excavating for the new road from Schuylkill Haven to Pottsville, there had been discovered
what was thought to have been an abandoned canal boat. Mr. H. C. Wilson, an eyewitness to the excavations, and who
made careful examination, has been kind enough to furnish the Call with a statement on the subject.
When the new road between Schuylkill Haven and Pottsville is completed, there will remain little trace not only of the
canal bed between Connor's Crossing and the dam above Seven Stars, but of the guard lock at the dam, and what was
known as the Five Locks. The Five Locks, also known as Warner's Locks and in old canal records as Waterloo Lock, was a
lock of the double chamber type, really two locks in one. It was slightly over two hundred feet long between the upper
and lower gates and the entrance at the lower end was one hundred feet north of the Lehigh Valley Railroad bridge.
Boats entering it from the Spring Garden level were lifted fourteen feet in the lower compartment, and then floated
through the middle gates into the upper section, where they were raised another fourteen feet to the Waterloo level and
thence passed on toward Pottsville. The process of locking was, of course, reversed when boats came southward. In
order to drain the water from the upper chamber into the lower, four large sluices, situated directly under the middle
gates, were employed. The water was admitted to them by valves controlled by rods and chains leading to levers on top
of the lock wall. These sluices consisted of a framework of very heavy oak timbers, some more then a foot in thickness,
securely fastened together with heavy bolts.
In excavating for the new road, several weeks ago, this wooden construction, which had a thin covering of earth and
stones over it was brought to light. Though more than sixty years old, it was still in such good condition that it was
necessary to use a heavy road roller and chain to pull it apart. With it were also removed several of th large valves and
also the iron shoe, or pivot on which the easter middle lock gate turned, together with the corresponding swivel attached
to what remained of the gate. It was the tearing out of these timbers that gave rise to the mistaken impression that they
were fragments of a canal boat which was sunk nearly fifty years ago, but at a point one hundred and fifty feet farther
south, entirely outside of the lock itself, and in the same place in the canal bed in which the foundations were built in 1897
for the trestle over which the trolley road ran for some years.
The Five Locks derived its name from the fact that the canal, before its enlargement in 1864, had a series of five locks,
much smaller in size, at the same location, to overcome the same elevation; and the name clung to the new lock until the
end of its existence. Although the canal was abandoned between Schuylkill Haven and Port Carbon in 1872, the Five
Locks was kept in operation until 1883 to pass lime boats to a kiln near Seven Stars. Later on, most of the woodwork
rotted away or was destroyed by fire, and in 1897 the lock walls themselves were torn down and taken away by the railroad
During boating days a large house, known as the Waterloo house, stood between this lock and the turnpike; and at the
time the railroad company leased the canal, in 1897, E. T. Warner, a canal official, make his home here. The house was
regarded as quite a mansion, and beautiful flower gardens surrounded it. It was torn down when the Pennsylvania
railroad was built. The Five Locks was one of six double-chamber locks in the canal above Reading. The other fiver are
still in place. They are the Blue Mountain locks, below Port Clinton; the Hamburg Five Locks, at the south end of the
Hamburg level; those at Mohrsville and Leesport, and the Peacock Locks, at the lower end of Duncan's canal, three or
four miles below Leesport. Only one of these is still in use, and that to a very limited extend-the Blue Mountain Locks, to
pass boats and scows used in dredging for coal.
|The Pottsville Republican of August 29, 1912
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN NOW BOASTS OF GHOST
If the statement of a half dozen or more boys, whose ages run from fourteen to seventeen years, can be believed, there
is a ghost in Schuylkill Haven. On Monday night last these boys, about eight o’clock took a walk to what is known in that
town as “Quarley Point”, situated near the old boatyards. While they were walking along, the ghost suddenly confronted
them less then twenty yards ahead. Attired in white, it beckoned them to come nearer. With outstretched arms and a
small head it started to advance to greet the boys. However, they needed no invitation to run and the speed attained by
them, as they made their way up Canal Street, would have done justice to professional runners. All out of breath, they
hastened to their respective homes, where they told their story. The following night the boys with stones in their pockets
and armed with stout clubs, wanted to again visit that spot and look for His Lordship of the Night, but for some reason or
other they were unable to secure a leader. The ghost has been seen by residents of that section on several occasions
and many a child will not venture out at night without being accompanied by their parents. Inquiry among some of the
older residents of Schuylkill Haven elicited the information that years ago when the boat building business of that town
was in its prime, when the town was noted for its industry from one end of the state to the other, and when the chief
pursuit of the town was boat building, a man by the name of Jacob Smith, about thirty five or forty years of age, was
drowned just as a canal boat was being launched. The accident occurred about fifteen minutes before the launching, and
when the launching took place instead of gliding smoothly into the water of the Schuylkill Canal, went over sideways and
came near filling up with water. The body of Smith was never recovered. For days following the accident, parties made
search for the remains without avail. Superstition among the boatmen in those days was nearly as great as it is in some
localities today and the drowning of Smith, together with the accident to the launching of the boat, caused many workmen
to quit their jobs and leave for foreign fields of labor. It is now believed that after these many years, nearly a quarter of a
century, Smith has come back to haunt those whom people now believe were responsible for his death.
|The Call of November 5, 1892
THE SCHUYLKILL CANAL
It is rumored that the Reading Company will reopen the Schuylkill Canal. We can see many advantages to be gained to
that company as well as to our borough by this. Although we have fully recovered from the stampede and stagnation that
were caused by the closing just five or six years ago, yet our town would greatly rejoice if this means of employment and
impetus to business were to return. There are scores of our laboring people who at the sound of the boatman’s horn
would be ready to throw down the pick and shovel, carpenter’s tools or whatever implements they may be using, to earn a
livelihood and push the rudder and draw in the line on the old Schuylkill Canal. The reason for this rumor is on account of
the immense coal traffic on this road and which is rendering passenger traffic difficult and dangerous. During the past
three or four years, this company has experienced two of the worst accidents that have taken place in its history. Both of
them were caused by the blocking of the tracks by coal trains. The immense coal traffic has caused the management to
increase the size and the number of trains on its road. By opening the canal, the trade on the railroad might be materially
relieved because hundreds and even thousands of tons of coal could be taken down by this means of transportation
every day. We most earnestly hope that the Reading Company will favorably consider this matter and bring back our old
time prosperity and save thousands of dollars for themselves.
|Back In Canal Days
*Notes in parentheses added by editor to help reader identify locations.
Several gathering places for senior citizens have been set up in Schuylkill Haven reminding older residents that a place
existed here for such persons almost three quarters of a century ago. The place was West Main Street below the
railroad. In summer time long seats were built under the tall willow trees along the old Schuylkill Canal and citizens
gathered there almost every day to chat and exchange views. Canal boats moved up and down the canal and almost
every day a dog fight enlivened the scene. The canal was fed by waters from the river which flowed through the guard
Part of the First National Bank (now the M and T Bank) building was built over the site of the locks. A dam was built to
control the flow of the water and the dam was the gathering spot for local folks on holidays when many people enjoyed
water sports. The depth of the water in the dam was controlled by a sluice built near the Reading Company shops near
the site of the Buechley Lumber Yards (located on the right after crossing the bridge onto the island). Some of the water
was allowed to flow into the dam and some through the river bed through the flats. A wooden bridge was built across
the river on the Broadway and back to the parent stream along the dam. A sluice across this branch near the Connelly
home made that a most satisfactory place for swimming. The water at that time was clear and clean but heavy rains would
bring high water. After unusually high water, boys who went to the old swimming hole found it filled with dirt and culm.
Old timers told of a canal boat going over the dam breast in high water. A popular spot for swimming was at the foot of
Saint Peter Street. Many folks were always on hand to watch the sport.
Those days there were fish in the river. The dam was a favored spot for boatmen to tie up. Brick and other building
material was brought to town on the boats. The brick for Saint Matthew’s Lutheran Church (the church located at the
corner of Dock and River Streets), then being constructed, were brought in by boat. Near the spot now occupied by the
Atlantic Gas Station there was a dry dock and a small yard for light boat repairs. The boat building yard was situated
along the canal close to the Red Pond (located in the area behind the Casket Factory). When a boat was ready for
launching the word was passed about town and many folks trekked down the railroad to the yard to see the launching.
The larger riverboats caused a big tidal wave as the boat struck the water. The employees of the yard were mostly town
For a playground boys used the mule yard on Canal Street (Parkway) along side the canal. This made a fine baseball
diamond. There was also a blacksmith shop and several company buildings. Some years before, a number of mules
perished and a large stable was destroyed by fire. Senior boys played baseball games on the Island Park. A wooden
bridge crossed the canal at West Main Street and on it the mule teams and driver boys crossed as the tow path was on
the far side. Quite a number of young men of town owned row boats and a boat ride in the evening was popular. Boys
would get aboard and ride the new boats to the docks. The lowlands along the river at the base of the mountain were
known as the Eck (the area also known as the Dutch Flat, from Columbia Street toward the sewer plant). If a Reading
train blocked the Main Street crossing, drivers could turn toward the canal and travel under the railroad and get back to
Main Street at Binkley’s Hotel. The hotel was located below the railroad tracks across from Dohner’s Shoe Store (now
River Front Center location).
Schuylkill Canal Docks
I’d like to write a few lines about the docks which were at the head of the old Schuylkill Canal. The small first dock was
located along the side of the river and west of the site of the new and very much larger docks. A culvert between the
two kept the water at the same level. A large number of boats could be accommodated. The Reading shops and the
railway yards were west of the dock and on a higher level. Springs fed the new dock and water from the river on the
south. Workers in the shops built a bridge across the water at Coal Street. Later Boussum’s locks and the imposing
brick canal or navigation office stood on Coal Street. A creek flowed under the Maberry blacksmith shop and into the
I never saw the boats load but evidently the coal dumped from cars on the landing flowed through chutes and into the
canal boats permitting fairly quick work. The river joined the canal at the Broadway bridge. A flour mill stood on the site
of the old Berger factory fed by what is known as the Almshouse Creek. There was also a mill pond containing fish.
There was good fishing in the docks. One day when I was a small boy I caught a large sucker. When I took it home I
found it reached completely across the tub. I dropped fish I had caught into the old stone covered well at the store
property. We swam in the dock in water that was ten feet deep. Before we could swim we would lower ourselves into
the water from a raft, a dangerous proceeding. Skating was also good on the dock in winter.
|In 1969, a compilation of reminiscences from E. Bright Pflueger, life long resident of Schuylkill
Haven, entitled “Bright Spots” was published. In the following articles Pflueger tells about
Schuylkill Haven and the canal in the 1890s.
|The Call of January 23, 1892
HIS TROUBLES ARE OVER – Tommy Searles Finds a Home With Rich Relatives
The romantic history of little Tommy Searles, seven years old and first mate of the canal boat, wandering Boy, who was
found guarding his little sister and his baby brother, his father lying dead frozen at his feet, in the darkness and cold of
the cabin, while the old canal boat was tied up at Port Richmond wharves, closed on Monday with a bright sequel. Tommy’
s mother, who was lying at the point of death on a cot in the Philadelphia Hospital while her husband was lying frozen in
the old canal boat, has recovered her health. The baby brother, who was almost frozen, has regained his strength and
rich relatives have been found in Philadelphia who have signified their willingness to provide a future home for the family.
It was an affecting scene in the rooms of the Children’s Society in Philadelphia, when the family was reunited after many
days of suffering. The relatives were there and extended their hospitality to the now joyous family. The mother was
happy, little Tommy took things philosophically but merrily, baby sister pranced around and officers of the society all wore
smiles. The publicity given the case by the newspapers was the direct means of discovering two cousins of Mrs. Searles,
both in excellent circumstances, who have volunteered a home for the family. Both cousins thought the mother long
dead and their joy at finding her living was only equaled by the happiness in being able to give the family a home.
This is the story told by Tommy Searles: “I was born on a canal boat at Schuylkill Haven, March 16, 1885. I’ve always lived
on a boat and I like it. I can steer the boat too. Last year I was at the wheel all the way from New Brunswick to Kingston
and I kept her straight too. I’ve been overboard three times. The first time I went overboard at Eddystone. That was dad’
s fault. He told me to go up on a ladder and I went up and the ladder and me went into the water. I got on the ladder and
didn’t go into the water. The next time was at Allison’s over on the Schuylkill. Dad let me drop over that time and I went
under the water. He came after me though and got me out. The last time I went over was up at Ann Street. That’s way up
in Richmond you know. The man at the bucket knocked me over that time and it was deep too. The man hollered man
overboard and he came after me and got me out again.”
“Who did the cooking on the boat since your mother went to the hospital?” “I did,” he answered proudly. “I cooked flitch,
fried potatoes, made the coffee and boiled eggs. I can eat a dozen boiled eggs all by myself without any help” and he
showed his little teeth and smiled as though he were proud of that fact. Asked if he could read he replied, “No sir. Dad
never sent me to school but I think he ought to have sent me long ago. I had a book once but it went down with the old
boat that was sunk. Then I began to save my pennies to get a new book. But whenever dad would get busted he would
come to me and say, “Tommy, ten cents” and then he would go and get whiskey. I never got my book.” “Do you want to
go to school?” “I’d like to know how to read and write but I’d like to have my own boat and run it. I think I could pretty
near run a boat myself,” and the boy put his hands on his hips and looked a full grown man as he made the last remark.
The little sister was scarcely less communicative. While she stayed in the care of the society she so favorably impressed
visitors that the gifts she received were very numerous. One gentleman presented her with two complete outfits of
clothing. Tommy’s troubles have ended and as he believes, a good time is coming.
|The Call of May 15, 1897
BENJAMIN KLINE DEAD – One of Our Oldest and Most Respected Citizens Passes Away
Benjamin Kline, aged eighty one years, died at his late residence on Dock Street on Monday. Mr. Kline was well known in
North Manheim Township, where he lived for many years, but for the past forty years was a resident of our town. He had
been a boatman on the Schuylkill Canal and had a narrow escape from being drowned with his wife and young family in
September 1850, when the freshet swept the Schuylkill River by the bursting of the Tumbling Run dams. The deceased
resided near the Seven Stars where the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks are located. He brought his loaded boat down and
tied up for the night near his home but he awoke in time to escape to the mountains in his bare feet with his family. His
house was turned over and his loaded boat was swept over the dam, one of his crew was drowned and the coal was taken
from the boat and shipped by rail to Philadelphia.
He had always been an industrious citizen. He was injured some time ago on the pike, for which he brought suit against
North Manheim Township and received a verdict for $1500. The case was more recently compromised for $750. He
leaves a large family of children to mourn his demise: Mrs. Jere Bast, Schuylkill Haven; Mrs. Carrie Helms, Pine Grove;
George Kline, engineer on the Buffalo train at Tamaqua; John, policeman at Manayunk; Pliny, operator at Elberon New
Jersey; H. H. Kline, chief bookkeeper for Hensyl Brothers, harness and hardware, Philadelphia; Benjamin on the
Pennsylvania Railroad at Princeton, New Jersey and Miss Louisa at home. His funeral took place from his residence on
Dock Street on Thursday afternoon. Services were conducted by reverend Moser of the Lutheran Church. Interment
took place at Union Cemetery. A large concourse of people attended to show their respects to the deceased.
|The obituary of an old canal boatman who survived the flood of 1850...
|The Call of August 31, 1900
THEY WANT A PARK - Residents of Canal Street Will Undertake to Fill the Old Canal, Plant Trees and Create a
Pleasant Spot in Front of Their Premises
Great interest is manifested by our citizens and especially by residents of Canal Street, in the removal of the Columbia
Street bridge. As the leveling of the approaches to the bridge continues to show what vast improvement will result after
the work is finally completed, residents of the neighborhood evince a strong desire to have this important improvement
extended further and have decided to fill in the old canal bed between Columbia and Union Streets and to gradually
convert this unsightly, unhealthy spot into a pleasant little park. After the canal bed has been filled to the level of the
streets on each side, trees will be planted, walks, grass and flower plots laid out and comfortable seats erected. An
immense amount of labor and material will be required until the old canal bed is finally brought to the level with the
surrounding streets, but the originators of the movement are confident, if all the property owners whose premises front
on the old canal site will cheerfully contribute their share of labor, that the work can be accomplished in the course of
several seasons. The proposed filling of the canal bed and subsequent beautifying of the spot by the creation of a park
will not only greatly approve the appearance of that portion of Canal Street but will enhance the value of every property
along that thoroughfare. The citizens at the head of this important private enterprise will endeavor to enlist the
cooperation of every property owner along that portion of the canal and express the hope that work will be commenced in
the near future.
|The Call of October 16, 1914
DROWNED MAN FOUND IN DOCK
The ghastly discovery of the dead body of a man floating in the Dock was made this morning by William Baussman who
happened to be driving a team on the road along side of the Dock. When first noticed the back part of the head was
visible but upon closer examination it was found to be the head of the body protruding. The news flew like wild fire and a
crowd quickly gathered. Coroner Dr. G. H. Moore was summoned and with the assistance of several bystanders drew the
body from its watery grave about 12:00 noon.
The body was that of a man between fifty five and sixty years of age. Height about five and one half feet. He was attired in
ordinary knock about clothing but without a coat. On his person was found an open face watch and chain, a bunch of
keys, several coins to the amount of forty cents. The watch showed it had stopped at 12:15, there was no other means of
identification. The body was removed to the Almshouse shortly after the noon hour. A post mortem examination will be
held this afternoon and if the body bears any marks of the man having met with foul play, an inquest and further
investigation will be made. If in the estimation of the coroner, the man did not meet with foul play, and either committed
suicide or accidentally fell into the water and was drowned and the body is not claimed by friends or relatives within
several days, burial will be made in Potter's field of the Almshouse. It is difficult to make any estimate of the length of time
the body had been in the water. Outside of the arms and legs being shriveled and where it was exposed to the air being
somewhat blue and bloated, it is in a good state of preservation.
For the past several days persons passing the Dock have noticed the object but from all appearances it resembled a
block of wood or a dead dog and nothing more was thought of the matter. However the rain of the past night caused the
Dock to fill up and the body came nearer to the shore and the discovery was then made.
|The Call of October 23, 1914
DROWNED MAN AN ALMSHOUSE INMATE
The man found in the Dock Friday proved to be Louis Krauschuf, an inmate of the County Home. The post mortem
examination was held at the county home Friday evening and the evidence submitted to the Corner's jury was sufficient
to convince the jurymen that death was caused by accidental drowning. The jury was composed of George Berkheiser,
Frank Sterner, Elmer Kline, W. H. Boussman, Abraham Huey and Charles Shappell. Krauschuf was about seventy three
years of age. He was an inmate since December 1912. He was employed as helper to the carpenter and it was by means
of a bunch of keys found on the body and which fitted a closet in the carpenter shop that identification was made.
Krauschuf left the institution Saturday without permission. The authorities thought he went to visit relatives in Mahanoy
City as he often did so. The body was claimed by Mahanoy City relatives and the body shipped to them on Monday.
|The Call reported the same tragedy in two issues
|The images below are reproduced from the original documents at
the historical society of schuylkill county in pottsville. The first
is a landing lease for a lANDING AT A DOCK IN SCHUYLKILL HAVEN FROM
1850. tHE SECOND IS A LICENSE FOR A VESSEL ISSUED TO WILLIAM KANTNER OF
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN IN 1850. tHE THIRD IS AN ENROLLMENT FOR THE CANAL
BOAT "ATLANTIC" OWNED BY WILLIAM KANTNER OF SCHUYLKILL HAVEN.
CLICK ON EACH DOCUMENT TO READ THE CONTENT.
|The Pottsville Republican of December 29, 1891
Willoughby Searles, Captain of the good barge "Wandering Boy", hailing from the port of Schuylkill Haven, was found in
his cabin dead yesterday morning with his three little children keeping vigil over his corpse. His little seven year old boy
told the sad story of his death.
"Dad died yesterday", he said in answer to a question from Lieutenant Tuttle. "It was about eleven o'clock in the
morning. He had been sick for a few days with what you call the grip." "Had he been drinking?" "No, not since
Christmas. He was sitting on a bucket yesterday morning and fell off. His head hit the stove and made a hole in his jaw. I
guess it broke the jaw. It looked as though it did. He never spoke after he fell. I took hold of him and shook him but I saw
he was going. I saw the last breath leave his body. That was about five minutes after he fell. Then I knew he was gone."
"Why didn't you tell someone yesterday about your father's death?" "How could I?" asked Tommy, his eyes opening wider
then ever. "I couldn't get off and besides when I asked about going sister and baby cried. I did the best I could", he
added with the air of a man of mature age. "And did you look after your sister and baby ever since your father died?"
"Yes sir and I didn't get much sleep last night. The baby was cross and I had to be up nursing him all night." "And you
weren't afraid?" "No sir. There wasn't anything to be afraid of."
Tommy said his father was fifty six years old and that his home was in Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.
He said his mother's name was Margaret Searles and that she was in the Philadelphia Hospital. She had been taken sick
about three weeks ago and he had not seen her since. Tommy and his sister, who is a year younger then he, were turned
over to Agents Watson and Ward of the Society to Protect Children from Cruelty, who took them to the Society's temporary
home. They were seen there last evening by a reporter. When the artist was making a sketch of Tommy and his sister he
said to Tommy, "If you get tired you can rest." "Oh I can stand it out without getting tired," replied the boy cheerily and he
|An Old Schuylkill Haven Boat Captain's Fate
|THREE CHILDREN KEEPING VIGIL !
|The Call of July 7, 1926
NO RESULT FROM DYNAMITING DOCK
Up to this time no results have followed the dynamiting of the old dock at this place in the hope that if a human body had
been placed therein, it or portions of it would rise to the surface of the water. There seems to be a firm conviction that
the remains of a human being have been weighted down and placed in this particular pool of water. This because of the
foot and the portion of the leg that came to the surface recently. The dock was dynamited last Saturday. The matter is
under investigation by the District Attorney's office. What the next move in the investigation will be has not been
|The Call of April 27, 1928
RELICS FROM THE OLD CANAL BOATS
Howard Heister,of Heister's Boatyard, reading, while working around his boatyard, entered one of the old abandoned
Schuylkill Canal boats (of which there are quite a number) and reaching up along one of the shelves found a notebook
containing among other records, a note of a shipment of 70,000 feet of oak lumber dated 1874 shipped from Muncy,
Pennsylvania, on the Union Canal, detoured at Reading via the Schuylkill Canal consigned to C. A. Meck at Schuylkill
haven. The toll on this shipment was three dollars per thousand feet. Also an unsigned note addressed to T. C. Zulick,
Schuylkill Haven, requesting if convenient an advance of five dollars toward an expense account. There were a number
of envelopes in this record book addressed to a Mr. Yalt, toll collector at Schuylkill Haven.
|The Call of September 21, 1928
CUT OFF IS FINALLY BEING FILLED UP
The Reading Company is at work filling up the old canal bed between Broadway and the edge of the Schuylkill River. This
section has been known as part of the "cut off" and it has long been a bone of contention in the side of some of the town
councilmen. Several years ago during high water, a section of the old dam breast at this point as well as portions of the
embankment were washed out by the high water in the river. This also permitted the water to rush through the old canal
bed and tear away a section of Broadway. The street was soon filled in but there remained a sump between the street and
the water's edge where water collected and became a menace to health. Cinders and heavy rocks are now being used to
fill up this hole and it is hoped the company will continue until the job is finished.
|Pottsville Republican of October 26, 1886
HE WASN'T IN THE CANAL
On Saturday last, a captain of a canal boat laying at Schuylkill Haven, employed a man to assist him in navigating the
raging canal. They went to bed on Saturday night, the captain complaining of feeling ill and placing a hot plate on his
stomach for relief. The new man fell asleep and did not wake until morning, when to his great surprise his bedfellow was
gone. His clothes lay where they had been placed the night previous and thinking something was wrong, he
commenced a search but failed to find the object of his search. An alarm was given and the neighborhood was soon
aroused and Sunday morning was spent in dragging the canal for the supposed dead body. That their work was in vain
the sequel will show. The missing man got up during the night, put on his Sunday clothes (about which the new man
knew nothing) and boarded a train for Reading and while the search for him was still being made he appeared to the
searchers in person and thus relived their anxiety as well as demonstrating to them that he was better than a whole
regiment of drowned men.
|Pottsville Republican of May 10, 1886
The lessees of the Schuylkill canal have two new boats on the stocks at Schuylkill Haven, besides they have several
building in private yards. The boatmen very justly complain of the manner in which they are treated. It seems there is an
abundance of orders on hand, but for some reason, that is not very obscure, the orders remain unfilled. Surely it can not
be that coal is scarce. These men during the boating season are exiled from home and friends, exposed to wind and
weather and all sorts of hardship. If they had steady work it would be possible for them to get along but as it is they are
always in the power of the storekeeper. On account of their nomadic life they are alienated from the sympathies of their
direct employers, who even if they had the disposition, are without the power to apply the remedy for their ills. The
boatmen On the Schuylkill Canal are nearly all men of family, moral and industrious, men who have a reputation for skill in
their calling, and who are in demand on other canals. These men deserve better treatment than they are receiving.
|Pottsville Republican of March 11, 1887
CLOSING THE SCHUYLKILL CANAL
By order of the general manager, upon the opening of all navigation all transportation line boats will be withdrawn from
the Schuylkill Canal and no more shipments will be made from the Schuylkill Haven landing. Shipments will however be
made in leased and individual boats from Port Clinton to points along the line of the canal. This means the abandonment
of the canal above the latter point and the abolition of offices and officials at Schuylkill Haven, to which town this is a
withering blow that will be regretted by everyone above Port Clinton. This order effects directly several hundred men,
numbering with their families, perhaps eight hundred in all, who were directly dependent upon the canal business for a
livelihood, to say nothing of the loss of their patronage to the other business interests of the town. Many of these
people will no doubt move down to the new shipping point and continue their old occupations. The cause of the
abandonment of Schuylkill Haven landing is said to be on account of the great expense and trouble of keeping this
portion of the canal open and in repair owing to the constant filling up with coal dirt. We sincerely sympathize with our
neighboring borough and with the men who must of necessity be great sufferers by this unexpected action on the part
of the management of the Navigation Company.
|Pottsville Republican of March 14, 1887
ABANDONMENT OF THE CANAL - Complications Likely to Arise Between Reading and Schuylkill Navigation
The abandonment of the Schuylkill Canal originally announced in the Republican last Friday, according to Philadelphia
reports is likely to precipitate a suit by the Schuylkill Navigation Company for foreclosure of the railroad under the
consolidated mortgage. The Reading Company now owes the Navigation Company about $800,000 for rental and the
relations between the two companies are very complicated. The arrangements for some time pending to adjust the
difficulty have failed.
An officer of Schuylkill Navigation said yesterday: "We will now force foreclosure, not under the general mortgage, but
under the consolidated mortgage, and it will not be an amicable foreclosure either. For months the railroad company
and the Reconstruction Trustees have been endeavoring to induce the navigation company to accept an exchange of its
securities for those of the reorganized railroad company. This would be a merger of the two properties and would settle
the question of the lease for all time. Lately the company's securities have been depressed in the market and this latest
action is calculated to further that purpose. The Reading Company refused to pay part of the rental for last year on the
ground that it wasn't earned, and now they propose to deprive us of all earning capacity. In other words they now refuse
to make earnings for the company".
"We abandon the canal," said General Manager McLeod of the Reading, "as a plain business proposition. It was a
burden to us because we could ship coal more cheaply by rail. We find it advisable to send all our coal by rail, abandon
the canal altogether, and if it is necessary to pay the canal rental then to do it. We propose to use the most economic
methods of shipment. The same reason will obtain for our action in reference to some of our branch lines, where the
double handling of coal at connections would cost more than a continuous but more roundabout shipment."
On Saturday, Superintendent Smith, of the Schuylkill Canal, issued notices of dismissal to all the employees except the
division foremen, day locktenders and main office attachés. The canal will be kept open nominally for several weeks
yet. As soon as the business is settled up, the Superintendent's office will be abolished and the clerks discharged. It
will be impossible even for individual boats to run and the great waterway will shortly be relegated to an unsightly ditch.
|Pottsville Republican of March 22, 1887
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN REJOICING
It is with great pleasure that the Republican is able to announce the reopening of the Schuylkill Navigation Company's
canal. Paymaster Galt, of Pottsville, Friday received orders to run the canal as usual, the reason assigned being that as
long as the pending suit remained in the Supreme Court, the Reading Company would be obliged to continue running
the canal. This is good news, not only for Schuylkill Haven, but for the lower end of the county, and the Republican
heartily congratulates all who are thereby effected on their better prospects. There are many who would prefer that the
old Navigation Company should assume control and run it again on the old time scale. They predict that should this
occur boating would receive a new lease on life and the boatmen would once again be able to live on what they made
during the season and gradually acquire a little property against the time of old age. Let us hope that the good time may
come, but in the mean time let us make the best of what we have. The scare of the last few days may be productive of
great good, if it teaches us not to depend on one branch of business for our living.
In the gloom that followed the announcement that 800 men in the immediate vicinity of Schuylkill Haven had been thrown
out of employment, there was still one ray of light. Two weeks ago as the evening shadows fell there gathered in that
town, a band of men upon whose sad and anxious faces was reflected the "touch of sorrow" which had made their world
akin. All conditions of men were represented and a committee was formed to try to raise funds and submit plans for
some business enterprises. This project should not be dropped; let not the clearing horizon and prospect of better days
deter any from joining in the plans for the future. Had public spirited citizens existed, men who had the capital, and had
they started some industry years ago the mandate of one man could not have produced such terrible fear and dread.
Shall we be stronger next year, or the year after, will we be in a better condition to attempt a founding of business
enterprises after our people have lived for a few years off of their capital, and the money that should have been at work
earning something has itself been spent for the necessities of life. We believe not, what then should be our course?
The smith well knows how useless it is to try to fashion iron when the heat is gone. What should you think of a farmer
who put his whole farm out with but one kind of product? How are we any better? We depend on a railroad and when
that fails we fret and moan while the iron cools and our savings of many years pass like the birds of summer at the first
autumnal frost, rapidly away to other localities. We are glad that the canal is to be reopened but we do not want our
people to forget that it may be but a transient benefit and we would caution all against dependency too much on its
Now is the time to prepare for the future. Now when you have work do it and try to decide on what can be done for the
benefit of your locality, so that should a similar crisis occur you can be provided for. Look at it in a selfish way of you
must. It is far better to provide a way for people to gain an honest living than have to support them even for a short time
in idleness. The drain on storekeepers this winter has been enormous and had the edict of the past week not been
repealed, many would have been unable to recover and must have gone under. Let us hope that resumption may last
long enough to enable all to recover and again stand even, or better still, that its old accounts may be closed and each
have a handsome balance on the credit side. Then with new industries added to the old we may expect to keep our
people at home.
|These three articles appeared in quick succession in 1887, detailing the fight with the
Reading Railroad over the future of the canal. The last is rather eloquent and prophetic.
|This detailed map of the Schuylkill Navigation Company lands is from May of 1891. Starting at the left you can
see its beginnings in the Tumbling Run area, moving into Schuylkill Haven in the middle and then traveling to
Berks County on the right. It shows the location of locks, mule bridges and towpaths. The bold face numbers
are the locks and the circled numbers appear to be canal company property. This is an excellent source for
Schuylkill Canal researchers.
THANKS TO JOHN BAMBRICK FOR PROVIDING THE MAP
|Pottsville Republican of December 2, 1891
AN OLD LANDMARK BURNED
At about eleven o'clock last night the extensive frame structure situated on the old Schuylkill Navigation landing grounds
in the West Ward of Schuylkill Haven was entirely destroyed by fire. For many years it was used by that company as a
repair shop and was one of the relics of the old Navigation days. Since it was abandoned by that company it has been
utilized by the Reading Company for various purposes. The loss is nominal. The inflammable nature and large
proportions of the building made the flames visible for many miles around.
|LAST UPDATED: NOVEMBER 6
|REMAINS OF THE SCHUYLKILL CANAL
Below are pictures of some of the remains of the Schuylkill Canal near
Schuylkill Haven in the vicinity of the Red Bridge.
PHOTOS COMPLIMENTS OF JOHN BAMBRICK
|The two pictures above are believed to show the remains of Dam Number 8 on the Schuylkill Canal near Schuylkill Haven.
Below left, the remains of the guard gatehouse on Lock 16 are shown. Below left, the pier of the bridge that crossed the
canal between the gate and lock is shown.
|New stories from the pages of the Miners' Journal of
the nineteenth century including:
Captain Burkert sets a record for trips to Philadelphia, a
man drowns in the canal after a chase, boatmen strike
over fees and Schuylkill Navigation and the boatmen
disagree on the end of the season.
|New York Times of September 13, 1891
LEWIS AUDENRIED, ET AL VS. THE BARGE SUSAN A. SPEARS AND HER CARGO
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT - JURISDICTION - BILLS OF LADING - DAMAGES
This was a libel to recover damages for a breach of a contract of affreightment. The libel alleged that they shipped on
board the barge at Schuylkill Haven 173 tons of coal to be carried to New York; and that the master received directions
where to deliver it in New York, but had failed to deliver it at all, and was attempting to convert it to his own use. The
master and owner of the barge answered, raising the question of jurisdiction and setting up that he had been directed to
deliver the coal at a dock in Gowanus Bay which he could not get up to, on account of the shallowness of the water, and
alleging he had always been ready to deliver the cargo according to his contract, and that he had only threatened to sell
the coal in order to force a settlement.
By the Court - Upon the facts alleged in the libel and proved on the hearing it is clear that there was an entire failure to
perform the contract contained in the bill of lading and no good excuse was shown therefore. It is equally clear that the
control and disposition of the cargo assumed by the master after he had failed to perform his contract, were tortuous and
amounted to a conversion of the coal, for which the cargo and vessel are liable. It was, however, contended on the trial
that this court had no jurisdiction on the cause, inasmuch as the contract of affreightment was made at Schuylkill Haven in
Pennsylvania and the transportation or voyage to the port of New York was partly on canal. It was insisted that such a
contract related solely to internal trade, and was not within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the District Court.
I do not think this view of the case would be supported on principle or on the authority of any adjudged case. A great
portion of the voyage was to be performed on tidewater and was from a port in one state to a port in another. It was a
maritime contract, within the meaning of the most restricted interpretations of the National Court. But it is not necessary,
in this place, to discuss the subject for it is hardly an open question in this Court. This precise point of jurisdiction was
raised in the case of Ganghran vs. 151 tons of coal, in 1857, and was overruled by His Honor Judge Betts and afterwards
on appeal by Justice nelson. That was a libel to recover freight money on a contract made at Schuylkill Haven, and
covering the same route or voyage as that in the present bill of lading.
A decree must, therefore, be entered for the libelent, with damages fixed at $714.19, with interest from the day of filing
the libel and costs. The decree should direct the coal to be first sold, and should the avails not be sufficient to satisfy the
judgment, the boat must be sold to make up the deficiency.
For libelants, S. Sanxay, Esquire; for claimants, D. B. Taylor, Esquire.
|New York Times of October 17, 1897
ALONG THE SCHUYLKILL CANAL
"Picturesque Decay" Where Once Were Signs of Two Thriving Industries - The First Boat Launched
The artist in quest of studies in "picturesque decay" will be well repaid the time and trouble spent in a pedestrian trip
along the towpath of the Schuylkill Canal, between Port Clinton and Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania. It is nearly twenty
years since the tooting of the boatman's horn was heard on this section of the canal, once the outlet for millions of tons of
coal from the Schuylkill regions to tidewater. The walls of the canal locks are crumbling and the massive gates used in
"locking" boats to and from the headwaters of the Schuylkill River are rapidly decaying and are covered with moss or
have been shattered by repeated floods and the canal bed, dams and portions of the river in this locality are filled with
The first discovery of coal in the Schuylkill regions resulted in a condition of affairs equaling the finding of gold in other
sections. Miners flocked to the valley from all parts of the world, villages sprang up in every part of the county,
prosperity reigned supreme, and with the bringing to the surface of thousands of tons of the black diamonds daily, and
the increased demand for the product, better facilities than existed for getting the coal to tidewater became an absolute
necessity. Capitalists soon planned a route for a canal. The opening of this highway of commerce was hailed by the
people of the Schuylkill Valley with delight. Towns and villages were built in a month all along the line and in a few years
the canal was alive with craft employed in the transportation of coal and merchandise.
Boat building became an important industry of a number of these hamlets, Landingville leading in this respect. But with
the death of the canal came the demise of Landingville and a visit there today showed only decrepit remnants of a once
large industry. There are many people there, though, who vividly recall the launching of the first canal boat built in that
section. That was sixty seven years ago, the builder and designer was William Wildermuth, who was born and raised near
Landingville, and many of his descendants tell of the holiday occasion the launching of the boat made. The work of
construction completed, the boat, very much smaller than those built in after years, was loaded on a large wagon and
hauled to the Seven Stars Hotel, north of Schuylkill Haven, where it was successfully launched, in the presence of a large
assemblage. The advent of the locomotive has left nothing but memories of the "good old boating days" but hundreds
find employment on the railroad today to one deprived of work by the decay of canals.
|Wellsboro Agitator of August 1, 1906
A MODERN RIP VAN WINKLE
A veritable Rip Van Winkle is Ephraim Harold, who a few days ago, after many years absence, returned to Schuylkill Haven
and meeting a group of men said, "Can you tell me where Joe Mayberry's blacksmith shop is?" "Why, Joe Mayberry has
been dead for twenty years," he was told. The old man looked puzzled. "Well, why aren't they loading boats on the canal
today?" he asked. "No canal boats have been loaded at Schuylkill Haven for fifteen years," he was told.
The look of pained surprise in the face of the veteran at this information was pitiful and after struggling for a moment or
two, he fell over unconscious. It appears that Mr. Harold was a boatman when the Schuylkill canal was in its glory and
many boats were loaded daily at Schuylkill Haven. One day about twenty one years ago, he went on a visit to Chicago and
never returned until last week. It is said that he met with an accident in the West by which he lost his memory. Recently
his faculties returned and events which occurred a score of years ago seem but yesterday to him. Mayberry's blacksmith
shop was a favorite resort for boatmen twenty five years ago.
|The Call of August 13, 1937
ROTARIANS HEAR ABOUT BOATING AND BOATMEN
Schuylkill Haven Rotarians met on Thursday afternoon and evening at the pretty summer home of Clyde Dunkle at
Drehersville. They were taken back to the boating days of long ago, not by reason of the showers of the afternoon, and
the rain of the early evening, but by a speaker, a former townsman, John Bowman of Pottsville. Mr. Bowman read from his
first article on "The Early Schuylkill Boatmen and Their Way". The type of boats used, the manner of boating, the
hardships and good times of the boatmen. His minute descriptions of the characteristics of the boatmen recalled to many
of the Rotarians memories of the past and to the younger persons present, proved humorous and entertaining.
Mr. Bowman stated there were three classes of boatmen, namely: river boatmen who took one load down the river and
then did not return to town until fall, having been engaged in barge services near the larger cities during the summer.
The second class were the individual boatmen who owned their own boats but were under the supervision of the
company. The third class were the company boatmen. These men invested nothing, the company furnishing both the
boat and the team. The river boatmen were of the best type. Their business was more of the lucrative type and many of
them were owners of several barges. It was not always easy for the second class of boatmen to obtain help to man their
boats. This because of the food furnished by the boatmen and his terrible temper.
Reference was made to the fact, by the speaker, that he himself, frequently caught catfish and terrapin as far north in the
river as Cape Horn. Company boatmen were more of the riff raff type of men, always ready for a fight, somewhat careless
and great drinkers. The name Quarley Point, often used in reference to the extreme southern part of Parkway, gained its
name by reason of so many brawls in that section where was located Geiger's Locks. These locks were the last for some
distance leaving Schuylkill Haven and the first where the boats had to be raised to a higher level. Boatmen found
frequent occasions to engage in fights here.
The speaker described many characters, both men and women, among the boatmen, including George W., always wanting
to pick a fight and never fighting; always singing and good natured, and having all the youngsters scared of them
because one of his habits was to run after them and make believe he was going to catch them. Mike Monaghan's
characteristic placed him as the biggest liar on the canal, while a Mr. Boussum was the heaviest man on the canal. No
hearse was large enough to take him to his final resting place, thus a heavy wagon pulled by four mules was used. A
number of deaths were recalled and they apparently were frequent, some accidents and others suicides. Numerous
saloons did a thriving business and the parts of the town in which they were located were always noisy. There were some
negroes about but they were not as quarrelsome as the white men.
Mr. Bowman spoke for a little more than half an hour and his audience gave every attention and enjoyed his address to
the fullest. He was congratulated and invited to read before the Rotary Club on future installments of stories of the
|The Call of June 12, 1942
BOY DROWNED IN DOCK POND
Robert W. Donatti, nine year old son of Mario and Theresa Koch Donatti, of Jacques Street, was drowned Saturday about
noon in the 'old Dock", a section of the old Schuylkill Canal near the Reading car shops, when he dived into shallow water
into a mud hole and was unable to free himself. Robert had gone swimming with William McGlone Jr. and when the
tragedy occurred, William spread the alarm and got help. The body was brought to the surface by local firemen. Fire
Chief Claude A. Sausser spent two hours trying to revive the boy by means of artificial respiration and the use of a
resuscitator, but to no avail. Dr. R. W. Lenker pronounced the boy dead and released the body to D. M. Bittle, undertaker.
Robert was born in Cressona but lived in Schuylkill Haven for the past eight years. He was a member of saint Ambrose
Church and attended parochial school. Funeral services were held Tuesday morning at nine o'clock from the home of his
grandfather, John Donatti, Broadway, Schuylkill Haven.
|The Call of August 21, 1942
YOUTH DROWNS IN DOCK POND
Walter Shadle, twenty two, of Frackville, an inmate at the Schuylkill County Almshouse the past several years, was
drowned in the Dock Pond at Schuylkill Haven early last Friday evening when he waded into deep water and was unable to
swim to safety. Boys who were swimming nearby ran for assistance and Robert Gehrig and George Heim brought the
body to shore. The resuscitator of the Schuylkill Hose Company was used and other attempts at artificial respiration were
made, but to no avail and the youth was pronounced dead. The youth aided in the work at the institutional district but had
some time off for recreation. Boys at the Dock said he evidently was unable to swim but ventured into water too deep for
wading. He was a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. John Shadle of Frackville.
|The Call of January 25, 1946
OLD SCHUYLKILL CANAL TURNED OVER TO COMMONWEALTH BY READING COMPANY
The famed Schuylkill Canal, used to transport coal from Pottsville and Port Carbon shortly after the turn of the nineteenth
century, has been offered as an outright gift from the Reading Company to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This
move, on the part of the Reading Company, was seen as a major development in the Schuylkill River cleanup campaign for
which the Pennsylvania legislature has already appropriated $15,000,000. The federal government will also spend a
similar fund. Secretary of Forest and waters, James A. Kell, confirmed the reports in Harrisburg on Wednesday that the
canal property consisting of approximately 103 miles of winding waterways has been offered to the state as outright gift
and that the gift will be accepted. The entire canal company property, including all leases are being turned over to the
state with the exception of a few pieces of land needed by the railroad company.
The enormous task of clearing all legal rights will begin in Philadelphia today, when the state will apply formally for
permission to enter the canal property. The historic canal began operation shortly after the turn of the nineteenth
century and by 1825c the entire output of coal from the Pottsville field was transported by canal boats. The first boats
carried twenty five to fifty tons of coal but by 1860 boats had obtained a carrying capacity of two hundred tons and all were
drawn by mules. In addition to being used for commercial purposes, the canal also provided a means of transportation
from Pottsville and Philadelphia by passenger boats. Summer excursions as well as regular trips were made to
Philadelphia and return. The fare was $2.50. The Schuylkill Navigation Company was chartered on March 8, 1815 and by
1828 extended from Philadelphia to Port Carbon. The entire canal was leased to the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad
Company, now the Reading Company, in 1870. Since that time coal and other transports were made by rail instead of
|Miners Journal of November 3, 1860
THE BARGE "GOVERNOR A. G. CURTIN"
In our last issue we noticed the fact of the launching of this fine barge at Schuylkill Haven. Since that time she has been
loaded with a cargo of coal assigned to Troy, New York, to which port she is now enroute. She is owned and commanded
by Captain Martin Wagner. The barge was built by Mr. William Saylor, can carry a cargo of 185 tons and is adapted to the
transportation of every description of merchandise. The name which was adopted at the suggestion of a popular citizen
of Schuylkill Haven, was designed and executed by J. H. Guertler, Esquire, with the taste and ability which distinguish that
gentleman's artistic efforts with his pen. The name is contained within an arch of thirteen stars, of which the center star
is twice the size of the rest and represents the keystone of the federal arch. The whole affair is creditable to all of the
parting concerned in her building and decoration.
|Miners Journal of September 23, 1865
MURDEROUS ASSAULT ON THE CAPTAIN OF A CANAL BOAT
ONE OF THE ASSASSINS SHOT AND KILLED BY THE CAPTAIN'S LITTLE SON
On Monday morning last about three o'clock, as the boat, Virginia, owned by the Schuylkill Navigation Company and
commanded by Captain Smith of Reading, was passing through the guard locks at Landingville, this county, four Irishmen
boarded the boat, two seating themselves at the bow of the boat and two at the stern. As the boat was passing up the
dam, the men gathered around the captain and demanded his money. The captain replied that he had but seven dollars
and that they could have that. The robbers were dissatisfied and one of the ruffians named Owen Mullen struck the
captain on the head with a billy and threw him on the hatchway. The captain's son, a small boy, who had loaded a gun by
his father's direction, came up the cabin steps, and placing the gun near Mullen's head, fired the contents through the
head of the robber, killing him instantly. Mullen lived on "the Flat" in Schuylkill Haven and was known to be a desperate
character. After Mullen was shot, the rest of the men attempted to seize Captain Smith but he sprang overboard and
swam ashore. His son followed him by jumping through the cabin window. When the captain jumped into the water, the
ruffians threw the tiller at him, but fortunately it missed him. The captain and his son succeeded in reaching Orwigsburg
Landing without further molestation. The robbers pulled the boat to the shore and escaped. Every good citizen will feel a
sense of relief that such a scoundrel as Mullen has been disposed of and earnestly hope that other wretches in this
county, when caught in crime, may be sent the same road as quickly. On Monday Coroner Johnson held an inquest. The
jury rendered a verdict of "justifiable homicide."
|Miners Journal of July 3, 1869
MELANCHOLY OCCURRENCE AT SCHUYLKILL HAVEN
We were deeply pained on Thursday, when we received information of the drowning the previous evening of Hattie, an
interesting bright little daughter of Captain D. B. Holmes of Schuylkill Haven. It appears that she was playing in the
neighborhood of the canal at the guard lock with several other little girls and for a time was left alone. It is thought that
she lost her balance while crossing a log, fell into the canal unobserved by anyone and was drowned. Her body was
recovered on Thursday morning at eight o'clock. This unfortunate event and severe blow on the family of Captain Holmes
brought general sorrow in our sister borough.
|Miners Journal of March 24, 1882
FIRST BOAT OF THE SEASON
A correspondent in Schuylkill Haven writes to the Journal as follows, under date of yesterday: An article appearing in the
Reading Times stated that Captain John Yeager, of Barge Arabella, was the first boat of the season to pass through the
canal with its nose pointing toward Philadelphia. The Times is mistaken as Captain Yeager arrived in Schuylkill Haven with
his boat Tuesday afternoon, and is now taking in a load of coal for Conshohocken. Neither was his the first boat to pass
up the canal. Captain William Wolf passed up the canal Saturday and arrived here Monday morning for a load for Spring
City. Barge Ogden left Schuylkill Haven Wednesday evening bound for Manayunk. This is the first loaded boat that will
pass through the canal.
|Miners Journal of September 22, 1882
A CORPSE IN CANAL BOAT
John Haines arrived at Schuylkill Haven some days ago with his canal boat which was moored in the dock. Haines lived at
Hamburg but was well known in Schuylkill Haven. As he had not been noticed about his boat since the beginning of the
week, the curiosity of those who had noticed his absence was merged into a suspicion yesterday that an accident might
have happened to him. The cabin door of the boat was examined and found locked. It was decided to break it open. This
was done. In the cabin was found the dead body of the captain. He had died of apoplexy. He was about sixty years of
age. An inquest was held upon the body. It was developed that death must have occurred some days ago. A verdict of
death from natural causes was rendered by a coroner's jury Friday afternoon.
|Miners Journal of February 12, 1853
This article was written by a Schuylkill Haven correspondent who submitted it to the newspaper:
I observe in your last paper the amount of premiums and to who they have been awarded by the Schuylkill Navigation
Company. The three best of the premiums out of five awarded from Schuylkill Haven have been obtained by men living in
this place. The first premium is awarded to Captain Burkert, of boat George Reiff for 39 trips to Philadelphia. This is the
greatest number of trips that has ever been by the same boat to Philadelphia on one season and for this reason Captain
Burkert should have been awarded a premium, even had none been offered for the most trips during the season.
Captain Kerkeslager of boat Colonel C. Huntzinger, receives the second premium for 36 trips and had he possessed the
same advantages and facilities in horsepower that Captain Burkert had, he no doubt would have drawn the first premium,
as at one time he was a trip ahead. But each of these deserve equal praise for their industry and perseverance in
accomplishing the feat of running the greatest number of trips ever run before in one season by any two men. Captain
Byaly drew the third premium for 21 trips, being a difference of 15 and 18 trips, by which we can form an idea as to the
perseverance of Captains Burkert and Kerkeslager.
I yesterday visited the new dock being built by the Schuylkill Navigation Company at this place. It is the largest dock in
the county, capable of holding 45 large boats, it is 900 feet long and averages 100 feet in width. This, in connection with
the old dock, will give them harbor for 65 boats and great facilities for loading them. They have engaged since fall, 200
hands at work and if nothing unusual occurs they will have it finished early in the spring. I understand it is the intention
of the company to have double sets of hands so that they can load day and night. The preparations for shipping coal from
this place will be more extensive than from any of the other places in the county, which, of course, will be necessary as
soon as the railroad is completed to the Mahonoy. Should the amount of coal to be shipped form this place meet the
anticipation of many of our coal operators, and the different railroads and canal companies, it will certainly equal, if not
exceed, all the other shipments from the region.
|Miners Journal of June 4, 1853
MAN DROWNED IN CANAL
An unknown man, about forty years of age, was drowned in the canal at Schuylkill Haven on Monday night last, under
circumstances that have given rise to much excitement and still more talk in the community and surrounding
neighborhood. The story runs thus:
A stranger appeared in Pottsville some days ago with a horse and wagon and after some difficulty sold the horse to Mr.
John Temple of this place. He then hitched his wagon behind a cart going to Schuylkill Haven and on reaching that place,
employed some boys to haul it to the railroad depot, for the purpose as he said, of sending it off by the freight line. About
eleven o'clock in the evening, two citizens passing saw him gearing a horse to the wagon and in reply to their enquiry, he
said he was going to Harrisburg. It was thought rather a strange hour to be starting for such a journey and one of the
passersby, casually, and more in jest than in earnest, remarked to the other, "he would bet that the horse was stolen."
Much to their surprise the stranger left the horse and wagon and scampered off as fast as possible. The citizens gave
chase and after running some twenty or thirty yards, heard a splash in the water. Thinking he intended to swim across,
one ran over the bridge to the other side to prevent his escape, when his friend immediately called him to return, that the
man was drowning. A boat was at once on loose and every effort made to save him but although he had been in the water
scarcely over fifteen or twenty minutes, when taken out he was found dead, and all the restoratives applied proved
useless. He is represented to have been a good looking man and well dressed. Several gold dollars and a twenty dollar
gold piece were found in his pockets. No clue whatever could be discovered as to his name, occupation or residence.
The mistaken report of his being a counterfeiter arose from finding some advertising medals about his person. The
verdict of the coroner's jury subsequently held upon his body, was rendered in accordance with the facts as stated
above. Our Schuylkill Haven correspondent supposes the deceased to have been Andrew Dewes, a notorious character
of Philadelphia. The horse, agreeable to suspicion, proved to belong to Captain Stewart Lyle, a boatman on the canal. He
was found outside the stable at Mr. Butz's tavern whence he had been taken with part of the harness on him, some
portions having fallen off on the way back from the wagon to the stables.
|Miners Journal of August 6, 1853
Last Monday was another total loss to the coal trade so far as Schuylkill Haven was concerned. All the boatmen carrying
coal to the New York market were on a "strike" in anticipation of the rise in towage through the Raritan Canal. Not a
pound of coal was shipped from Saturday through Tuesday morning. On Tuesday morning, however, the shippers
"knocked under" as the phrase goes, consequently all hands have gone to work again. Five cents increase on the ton
was all that they demanded. There was very little done on the Saturday previous making a loss of nearly two days to the
trade. Why did the shippers refuse (they admitting that the demand was just) to give the additional five cents per ton,
when they knew full well that the boatmen would "stand up to the rack, fodder or no fodder."
|Miners Journal of December 17, 1853
Some of our boatmen in possession of Navigation Company boats are on a kind of strike. They say the season is at an end
and time to tie up, while the Company contends that they must keep moving to the first of January. The boatmen say that
they have complied with the article of agreement and that they have made all the payments and have as much say upon
the subject of tying up as the Company. So you see there is a slight difference of opinion between the parties. I have
been credibly informed that the Company intends taking possession of all boats; the owners of which refuse to comply
with the above orders. One thing however, is certain; the Company should break the ice so as to permit boats to pass
each other. The boatmen say that in some of the dams the passage was just sufficient for a single boat to pass. And
again, if the boats must be kept running, why have the locktenders been taken from their duties at night? Is it not
reasonable that the locks should be made ready at night as well as in the day.