The Canal Path In Watsontown PA

Today was the Grand Opening of the Canal Path - the extension, and bridge, has been completed.  

To access the path from the West, you can park in the West Milton State Bank lot, or the Watsontown Legion has agreed to allow the community to park there as well.

If you stand by the new Canal Path sign in front of the bank, look to the right of the trees and you will see the green arrows for the path.

the new bridge, connecting the expansion to the original path.

To access the path from the East - park in the parking lot beside the bridge.  Walk past the bridge on to Elm street.  Walk past a couple of houses, and at the end of the sidewalk will be a driveway on your left.  It will feel like you are walking on private property - you are walking between a house and a parking area for the house, but as soon as you walk onto the driveway you can see the path down on your right.

Before the expansion  - this was the west side of the path:

July 2014 - Standing at the end of the east side of the trail, looking west - you can sort of see where the expansion trail is.  In the spring you could see the crushed red gravel trail over there - but there is currently no way to get to it from the east part of the trail.

November 23, 2012

Derek Grose finishes his Eagle Scout project

WATSONTOWN — Derek Grose, 15, a member of Boy Scout Troop 610 of Watsontown, recently completed his Eagle Scout project which was to extend the Warrior Run Community Corporation’s Pathways Project.

The project took months of planning, working with the Watsontown Borough, getting necessary government approval, and organizing volunteers.

Approximately 12 volunteers worked from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 12, and included Lynn Watson Excavating, T. Ross Brother’s Construction, Watsontown Brick, and Yordy’s Cabinet Surplus. Other donors also supported him. The project was completed in three days with Derek and his father, Chip Grose, finishing up by seeding and spreading hay.

The Warrior Run Pathways has been working on this project for the past nine years. The path runs along the old canal bed from Lingle’s Bi-Lo to just beyond 10th Street. Derek added another 500 feet to extend the path. He felt it was an important project for his community. He said, “It gets people out walking and biking.”

Derek stated, “The project would have been a lot harder if he wouldn’t have gotten a lot of the services donated and that he was very thankful.”
"His Eagle Scout project extended the pathway another 500 feet from 10th Street to behind the West Milton State Bank. Grose felt this would be a good way to help the Warrior Run Pathways Committee and give to his community.  He said, “It would be a great place for everyone in the community to enjoy a nice walk or a place to get some exercise by running or riding bike”."

Proposed Expansions:

Photo above is taken from:

Canal History:

Old canal had a big impact on this region

December 17, 2007
By CATHY SNYDER Sun-Gazette Correspondent
WATSONTOWN — To the untrained eye, the only evidence that canals once existed in the area is the post displaying the street name Canal Street.

To the trained eye, the remnants of central Pennsylvania’s glory days of canals are all around.

A group of canal enthusiasts recently traveled through the area as part of the Pennsylvania Canal Society’s fall tour. Stops included Watsontown, Milton, Muncy, Northumberland and Danville as they retraced paths of the North Branch and West Branch Divisions of the Pennsylvania Canal.

The system consisted of a series of locks and gates that were used to navigate boats up and down the canal, thus overcoming the natural inclines or elevation changes along the Susquehanna River.

A boat would enter the lock, a gate would be closed and water would either be let in or drained to raise or lower the boat. Teams of mules were used to pull the boats. The more elevated the terrain, the more locks were necessary. On the North Branch Division, which was put in use in 1832, seven locks were used to create an overall lift of 69 feet, according to Robert Keintz, president of the canal society.

When it was developed in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the canal system transformed how people traveled and goods were transported.

Before canals, wagons were the only mode of transportation. It often took months to travel on roads that were seasonal at best, according to Keintz.

The canals became “literally a water highway,” he said. While wagons could carry one ton of materials, a canal boat could transport 100 tons, he said.

“It’s incredible what they accomplished. It’s mind boggling,” Keintz said.

With canals carrying goods, packet boats, such as the one that was restored by the Muncy Historical Society, served as the 1800s version of a Greyhound bus. With benches inside that were converted to beds at night, people could travel from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in seven days. A wagon might take months to make the same trip.

With Pennsylvania’s 1,600 miles of canals, regions throughout the state that had never been before were linked and industry expanded.

When New York state pushed for the Erie Canal, it led to an explosion of commerce and New York City overshadowed Philadelphia, which until that time had been the largest city in the country, according to Keintz.

As the canal system was used, shipping costs dropped dramatically, allowing all sorts of products to be shipped long distances quickly at nominal expense. This allowed towns like Williamsport, Muncy, Milton, Lewisburg and Selinsgrove to thrive, he said. If one were to look at the map of where the canal was, the side of the river on which the canal ran developed and prospered while little development occurred on the other side.

Entrepreneurs in Muncy knew the value of the canal and actually dug the Muncy Cross Cut Canal to connect to the West Branch Canal knowing it would lead to industrial growth and helped companies like Sprout-Waldron, once the largest employer in Lycoming County, flourish, according to Bill Poulton, president of the Muncy Historical Society.

Some pieces of Muncy’s canal history are still visible and in use, although not necessarily in their original location. The cut stones of the aqueduct, a “water bridge” structure that carried the canal across Muncy Creek were recycled to build St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Muncy, Poulton said. Other remnants remain at their original locations.

Many of the more elegant historical homes in Muncy were built by merchants who made their fortunes because of the canal, he said.

Other communities saw success because of the canal’s presence.

“Milton ballooned after the canal went in,” Keintz said. Today, carved stone remnants of an aqueduct are still evident near Filbert Street on either side of Limestone Run.

During the canal society tour at that sight, several Milton residents acknowledged they had never realized what the structure was, that it was part of the canal or what the canal’s presence had done to enrich Milton as an industrial center.

The lack of knowledge about the significance of the canals to regional history is something canal society strives to overcome.

“People aren’t aware of these remnants and they have to be recognized and appreciated before anyone would ever consider taking action to preserve them,” Keintz said.

Founded in 1966, the canal society works to preserve the heritage and remnants of canals in Pennsylvania. The canals flourished in and transformed the state until the arrival of the railroad.

Two local projects which would create a system of recreational trails and preserve canal areas are planned. Some canal society members have been involved in the planning of these trails.

SEDA-COG and Bloomsburg University are collaborating on a project to turn 16 miles of towpath into trails, Keintz added.

The Warrior Run Community Corporation is working on a plan to incorporate part of the former canal towpath in Watsontown into a natural walking and recreational trail. Other routes for bicycles and scenic drives also are planned.

This would give people the opportunity to be out in nature and walk or bike safely, Keintz said.

Such recreational areas are important for quality of life, observers say. Each of the municipalities recently designated as among the best places to live in America has “one common denominator — a nice recreational trail system,” he said.