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The Reading Area Community College (RACC) Schuylkill Navigation System Collection contains nearly 1,300 maps, drawings, and documents to explore. This collection would be of particular interest to those researching the Schuylkill River, Venice Island, Flat Rock Dam, Manayunk Canal, bridges, or the boats and scows that traveled the waterways. This collection would also be of interest to those researching Main Street or the Mills of Manayunk as some maps provide great details of water-adjacent properties and structures.


The Schuylkill Navigation Company was incorporated in 1815 for the purpose of making the Schuylkill River navigable. In the State Archives of Pennsylvania Manuscript Group 110 there are copies of the legislative acts, minute books, correspondence, reports, and other documents of the company from 1815 until 1947 when the property was contributed to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the 1947 report Appraisal Schuylkill Navigation Company Canal for Commonwealth of Pennsylvania a "Brief History Of The Property To Be Appraised" is included. The "canal" or navigation system was constructed between Port Carbon and Philadelphia and covered a distance of 108 miles. Harry L. Rinker in his book, The Schuylkill Navigation: a Photographic History, points out that this "canal" was more properly a "navigation system" because it consisted of 18 dams, 23 canals which covered 57.73 miles, 120 locks, 17 stone aqueducts, one 450 foot long tunnel, 50.50 miles of slack water pools, 23 canals covering 57.73 miles, and 31 houses for toll and lock keepers when it was completed in May 1825. After 1825 efforts to improve the navigation system were ongoing, so the above number of structures changed over the years. There are photographs of some of the dwellings still in existence in 1947 in the Appraisal Schuylkill Navigation Company Canal for Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Schuylkill Navigation Company collection at Reading Area Community College also includes drawings of reach profiles, canal boats, bowstring bridges, mechanical parts and scows.

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