On November 5, 1998, one hundred years had passed since the last boat of anthracite floated down the D & H Canal from the coalfields of northeast Pennsylvania to the Hudson River. The canal and the gravity railroads that fed it, with all their picturesque vitality, have receded beyond living memory. Year by year nature and human activities erase this 124-mile-long civil engineering achievement, built over three years largely by hand. Despite its National Historic Landmark status, the rate at which it is being destroyed increases due to the uncontrolled commercial development along Pennsylvania Route 6, which follows the D&H Canal’s former route in Wayne County.
Responding to the public’s interest in the canal’s physical remains and possible recreational trails, the Wayne County Historical Society (WCHS) formed the Towpath to Trail Committee in 1997. The committee’s goal was to establish the first (in PA) public greenway on a section of the former D & H Canal. Since then WCHS has acquired a mile of canal/towpath including Lock 31, Lock 31 House, and the adjoining 16 acres.
With acquisition complete the writing of the following planning documents were then started:
Grant funding was then obtained in the spring of 2006 for the required archaeological study of the 16 acres and the immediate restoration needs of Lock 31 House.
In February 2009 we were notified of our successful Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission's Keystone Historic Preservation Grant application for $72,781. This grant will match a previously awarded Penn DOT grant of $116,350. Together they will fund the immediate restoration needs of lock 31 house, as defined in the Historic Structures Report prepared by architect John Bowie. The required archeological study report was accepted by the State and restoration of the property at Lock31 continues (as of summer 2009).