Dan Coates Presents Results of Archaeological Study of the Susquehanna Canal

The Susquehanna Canal on the eastern sid

Dan Coates points to a map as he takes questions after the program was over.

Dan Coates points to a map as he takes questions after the program was over.

e of the Susquehanna River in Maryland aided navigating, permitting arks and rafts to navigate around the rocks and falls in the river.  Opened in 1802, it was never a financial success, and was sold at a sheriff’s sale in 1817.  Once the Susquehanna and Tidewater, stretching from Wrightsville to Havre de Grace,   opened on the western shore of the Susquehanna in 1840, its history was largely sealed.

Until late in the 20th century, people believed the remains of the Susquehanna Canal Locks were lost to modernization and the passage of time, especially with construction of the Conowingo Dam.  But in 1984, three locks of the canal were discovered near the Octoraro Creek.

Over a past few years the Archaeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake has done a couple of investigations there, concentrating on the three locks around Octoraro Creek.  The investigations revealed three building foundations, a concentration of lithic materials and more than 600 artifacts, largely dating from 1820 to 1860.

Dan Coates, President of the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake presented the story of these investigations and this historic site for the Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace on March 19, 2015.  The lecture was part of the speakers’ series at the Museum, which brings interesting and timely topics to the community.

Dan did a superb job.  He carefully summarized the broader history of canals along the Susquehanna, outlined the history of this route around the river obstacles, and presented the research study.  There was lots of interest and questions for Dan, and he obviously drew some canal specialists based on the questions they had for the archaeologist.

Thanks Dan and Susquehanna Museum for this excellent and informative program.

The Susquehanna Canal Lock.  source:  Archaeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake.

The Susquehanna Canal Lock. source: Archaeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake.

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