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The Delaware and Hudson Canal

Honesdale, PA - Rondout, NY 1828-1898 In 1825 William and Maurice Wurts went to New York City to demonstrate the heating ability of anthracite coal. This brought about the organization of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company. Board members included Maurice Wurts and New York City businessman and future mayor, Philip Hone. The company purchased the Wurts brothers' interest in their Lackawanna coal mines. Benjamin Wright was named its chief engineer. This became the first million dollar private enterprise in America. Construction began in 1825 with Irish and German immigrants as laborers. Approximately twenty-five thousand men with two hundred teams of mules and horses worked on the canal. On October 16, 1828 the first packet boat left Rondout, NY and arrived in Dyberry Forks (Honesdale). By late 1828 coal was brought over from the Lackawanna mines via the Delaware and Hudson Gravity Railroad, transported to Rondout, and then delivered to New York City. The 108-mile-long Delaware and Hudson Canal had 108 locks. Its depth was 4 feet, and its width was 20 feet on the bottom and 32 feet on the top. In 1845 and 1847 when the canal was enlarged, the depth became 6 feet and the widths were 32 feet at both top and bottom. The first locks were built 76 feet by 9 feet. In 1850 they were enlarged to 100 feet by 15 feet. The original boats were 70 feet long and 8 feet 7 inches wide. Later they were built 90 feet long and 14 feet wide. The canal boats were pulled by teams of mules. Aqueducts were built at Rondout and Neversink, and two in Lackawaxen. In 1850 over 100,000 tons of coal were transported on the canal, in 1851 over 300,000 tons, and in 1852 over 500,000 tons. As railroads came into existence they became strong competition since the canal could operate only from late April until early December. On November 5, 1898 the last coal-laden canal boat left Honesdale, and on June 13, 1899 the Delaware and Hudson Canal was sold for $10,000 to the president of the Cornel Steamboat Company.

Text by Marge Hook and Gloria McCullough

Line Drawing by William Amptman

From 1993 through 2008 the Honesdale National Bank published an annual wall calendar, each featured 13 historic sites. The sites were chosen and researched by a committee of the historical society and artwork was commissioned to Judy Hunt and William Amptman by the bank.

This page was one month of the calendar and was made possible through the Wayne County Commissioners and a Tourism Promotion Committee’s Tourism Grant.