Historical Markers
Canal Basin Historical Marker
Mouse over for marker text

Canal Basin

Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies


Marker Location:
US 22 at Canal Basin Park, W end of Hollidaysburg

Dedication Date:
May 31, 1982

Behind the Marker

Canal basins were large, artificial pools of water. On one side of the mountain, boats would be taken out of the canal, as they were at Hollidaysburg, while the basin on the other side was used to refloat them. Constructed by hundreds of workers, when completed, the main canal basin at Hollidaysburg was six feet deep, 120 feet wide and two miles long. A small town with a population of just seventy-six in 1827, Hollidaysburg mushroomed virtually overnight to a bustling town of 3,000.

Livestock, corn, wheat, iron, textiles, and thousands of passengers crossing Pennsylvania floated in the canal basin over a twenty-year period. For a period of about a decade, there was hardly a product that was grown or manufactured in the Commonwealth that didn't pass through this point. Some of the passengers who traveled through the canal basin included renowned English author Charles Dickens who ventured from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh in 1842. Other travelers of the day included politicians such as Thaddeus Stevens and Henry Clay, and the famed French economist Michael Chevalier.

Like the entire system itself, the canal basin fell into disuse by the middle of the nineteenth century when it could no longer handle the amount of traffic that could be accommodated by the railroad system.

Back to Top