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Canal Walk with “Inland” Author Sandy Sorlien

November 13 @ 9:30 am 12:30 pm

We will visit three or four sites along the 19th century Schuylkill Navigation system in Chester County, principally Laurel Locks 52-52 and Towers’ Lock 58 on the Vincent Canal. The Navigation, also known as the Schuylkill Canal, carried more than a million tons of coal in a peak year along its 108-mile inland waterway from Port Carbon to Philadelphia. After the 1846 system-wide enlargement, there were 27 canals, 32 dams, and 71 locks in operation, and Chester County has some of the best remaining infrastructure. 

Laurel Locks Farm is a surpassingly beautiful place with views of the Schuylkill River from its elevated towpath. The lock ruins include an intact lower chamber and replica gate, a partial upper chamber, a lock tender’s house, and the remains of an original 1820s lock. There is also a small intact aqueduct, Price’s Culvert. Towers’ Lock has substantial fascinating ruins in the woods, and a Vincent Dam abutment with a datestone. We will add other stops on the Girard or Vincent Canal if time permits, such as Towpath Park, Pigeon Creek Aqueduct, Setzler’s Aqueduct, or Lock 57.

Wear hiking shoes and protective pants. A walking stick may be helpful for a short rough slope and brambles at the Towers site.

Maximum Attendance: 15.  Meet at Laurel Locks Farm, Visitor Parking, 1040 W Schuylkill Rd (Route 724), Pottstown, PA 19465 (across the river from Pottstown), 9:30 AM.  Narrow driveway, slow down to see it.

Sandy Sorlien is a photographer and writer, the author of the new book Inland: The Abandoned Canals of the Schuylkill Navigation, published by George F. Thompson in 2022. She is a native of Philadelphia, grew up in Montgomery County, and lived 27 years near the Manayunk Canal. She works as an Environmental Photographer at the Fairmount Water Works, and designs outdoor tours throughout the Schuylkill Valley.

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Starting Point: Laurel Locks Farm

1040 W Schuylkill Road
Pottstown, Pennsylvania 19465
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