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Susquehanna Canal maps

Identifier: IAL-2019-003

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of two books of maps of the North Branch Division of the Susquehanna Canal System, an extension of the Pennsylvania Canal. The maps show the canal between Northumberland, Pa., and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in the 1870s.


  • 1877 - 1878

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on use of this collection.

Biographical / Historical

The North Branch Division of the Susquehanna Canal System was an extension of the Pennsylvania Canal System of the 1800s. In 1831 Governor George Wolfe borrrowed $2.4 million for several expansions of the Pennsylvania Canal system, which included parts of the North Branch Division.

The original 55 miles of the North Branch division stretched from Northumberland, PA to Nanticoke Falls, PA and comprised of nine locks in total. Ground was broken July 4, 1828 in Berwick and was opened September 1831.

A second stretch, known as the Wyoming Extension, was added in 1834, which took the canal from Nanticoke Falls past Wilkes Barre and up to Pittston.

A third stretch, begun in 1836 but not completed until 1856, took the canal up to Athens, PA and the New York state line. The North Branch Canal Company was incorporated in 1843 and took over construction of the unfinished section between the Lackawanna River and the New York state line. They did not fulfill the contract, and the Pennsylvania government regained control in 1848. Construction finished in 1853.

A later private connecting canal, Junction Canal, linked up to Elmira, NY where it met the Erie Canal. In 1856, the 'Tonawanda' became the first canal boat to travel between New York and Pennsylvania.

In total, the North Branch was 169 miles, 43 locks, and had an elevation difference of 334 feet. Additional infrastructure included five river dams, 29 aqueducts, and 229 bridges. The total cost of the North Branch Canal and its associated project was $1,598,379.34.

In 1853, the entire Pennsylvania Canal was sold to the Sunbury and Erie Railroad. Then, in 1858, the canal from Northampton Street, Wilkes Barre to Athens, PA, was sold to the North Branch Canal Company, who in turn sold it to the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1865. In 1869 it was sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad, which formed a subsidiary company, named the Pennsylvania Canal Company.

After 1891, the North Branch Canal was abandoned. At some point, the Pennsylvania Railroad sold it to the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad. The route of the canal serves as part of the right of way for the D.L. and W.


132 Sheets (2 oversized folders) : hand-colored maps ; 29 1/2 x 16 in.

Language of Materials


Processing Information

Processing was completed by Melissa Nerino in September 2019. Finding aid was created by Melissa Nerino in September and October 2019.

Melissa Nerino
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Industrial Archives & Library Repository

18 West 4th Street
Bethlehem Pennsylvania 18015 USA