A Walk Along the Old Canal in Cokeville

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Yesterday, a small group of us got together to take another walk through Cokeville. I have been back there many times, but concentrated exclusively on the town itself, the old railroad alignments, and the coke ovens. Today (yesterday will be referred to as today from here on out) we took a walk out there to try and find the remains of the old canal that ran right through the heart of the former town. We found some of the most extant sections of the Western Division of the Pennsylvania Canal that still contain water. This was a great find in itself, but we learned that a large portion of this canal section is inhabited by beavers.

Nothing is better than being with some of your favorite people, exploring lost history, and combining it with an element of wildlife which have adapted, and thrived, in an enormous man-made ditch which stretched across the entire state. So few people are even aware of the Pennsylvania Canal, which was one of the greatest transportation achievements in the history of the state, but became obsolete almost immediately after its completion.

The canal predated the dawn of the great Pennsylvania Railroad, which would consume enormous portions of the canal either by filling it in to lay its tracks or by using its towpaths. This makes finding sections of the canal that are still intact rare, let alone portions that still contain water.

Fortunately, we can still find both if we know where to look. There is still a very intact, and easily accessible section along the West Penn Trail at White Station, as well as a nice section (sans water) near Conemaugh Dam, but finding a large intact section requires a good deal of research. I know I’m of the opinion that everything should be preserved…

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