Built in the year 1879, the Union Canal Tunnel, was the first of it’s kind around the Lebanon County area. Located just outside Lebanon, PA the old Tunnel still stands the test of time from long ago when Canal transportation was a main means of transporting goods from one place to another.
The Canal and Tunnel were all dug & built by Irish immigrants looking for work to support their Family’s. The Tunnel had to be dug thru Limestone rock and each stone was put in place by hand. The Tunnel is 647 ft. long and 20 ft. wide. It took 3 yrs. to build. The first Canal Barge to pass thru the Tunnel was the Alexia, on November 3, 1882.
Back in those day’s there were no gas powered motor’s to power the Barge thru the water. All of them had to be pulled along via Horse or Mule attached via long rope to the Barge. When entering the Tunnel, the horse or mule had to be disconnected from the Barge and then led up a path to the other end where they were connected back again. The Barge had to be “pushed” thru the Tunnel via long poles that were held against the over-head in the Tunnel. They also used the sides to help push the Barge thru.
Over time the Railroad was beginning to be a better and faster way to transport goods from one place to another thus creating the down-fall of the Canal system. The last barge to pass thru was in April of 1903.
Looking down at the Tunnel from the other end.
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