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Crotal Bell

Celebrating the Bicentennial
of the Manayunk Canal


PHILADELPHIA, PA. -- Philadelphia is gearing up to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the opening of one of its most influential waterways—the Manayunk Canal. To celebrate, the Fairmount Water Works is presenting a variety of events to provide visitors and residents with a fascinating look at the canal's unique history within the city.

The Manayunk Canal makes up a 2-mile section of the 108-mile Schuylkill Navigation System, and was used to transport anthracite coal into the city and other materials upriver to Phoenixville, Pottstown, and Reading. Water power from the canal allowed 38 mills to thrive in 19th century Manayunk. Originally called the Flat Rock Canal, records of the Schuylkill Navigation Company indicate that the first toll was collected on March 15, 1819. Today, the Manayunk Canal is the only one in the entire system that still has intact lock chambers at both ends.

The bicentennial events will be held at the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center in Manayunk and the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center located on the banks of the Schuylkill River below the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Events include a panel discussion and photography presentation showcasing the past, present and future of the canal, an insider's tour of Lock 69 and the canal area, an exhibition and booklet about the Manayunk/Fairmount 200-year confluence, and a video about the abandoned Schuylkill Navigation canals, at the Fairmount Water Works.

For more than 200 years, the Fairmount Water Works has told the story of our connection with water. It operated as a pumping station from 1815 to 1909, an aquarium from 1911 to 1962, as the Kelly Natatorium until 1972, and today serves as Philadelphia Water's public education destination, housing an award-winning urban environmental education center.

For more information, see the Manayunk Canal Web site.

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