French Creek Feeder Canal
Before the days of planes, trains and automobiles, there were canals, used to transport not only goods, but people from one area to another. In the years following the building of the Erie Canal in New York State, the state of Pennsylvania undertook the building of a canal from east to west. In addition, the importance of a continuous navigable waterway from Pittsburgh to Lake Erie became evident. This is where Conneaut Lake comes into the picture.
The north south route hit a snag just west of Conneaut Lake where the rise in the level of the land prohibited the free running of the canal waters. More water was needed. This was accomplished by diverting water from French Creek near Meadville, building a feeder canal into Conneaut Lake, raising the level of the lake about 10 feet. The lake acted as a reservoir for the canal system. This additional water then was diverted west to feed the Erie Extension Canal.
The Feeder Canal exhibit at the museum is an important one to understand our history. It includes a detailed topographical map tracing the canal route from Meadville to Conneaut Lake and then into Erie County. It details a picture of a canal boat, including the size and layout of the structure used for transport. Also featured are grain bags and a barrel designed to give visitors a real life look at how goods were packed. Photographs line the walls showing activities along the canal path.
This all gives a description of early canal days. But since we can’t bring the canal into the museum for you, we include maps and directions to take you to the canal. We have several miles of the original canal nearby and we provide directions to two easily accessed sections. If you want to really feel the magnitude of this approximate 27 mile long 1827-1834 engineering and construction marvel, there is no substitute for seeing the actual canal.
In addition to the items in the exhibit, we have much more information related to the Feeder Canal in our archives.