If you could have walked along the towpath here in the 19th and early 20th century, your senses would have been overwhelmed by industrial pollution. The dust from coal being unloaded from canal boats fogged the air. The stench of animal fat being mixed with lye at Hoffmyer's Tannery and Soap Factory would have overpowered you. The groan of water wheels powering four, grist, and paper mills would have been thunderous. A noisy, dusty and sometimes dangerous place, the canal brought raw goods such as coal, grain, wood, and stone to fuel Georgetown's bustling manufacturing district.
Today the evidence of Georgetown's industrial past is found in the architecture of buildings along the canal. Evidence of water outlets, bricked up chutes, smokestacks, and block and tackle still remain on many buildings. Reborn as offices, homes, and shops, the warehouses and mills of yesterday testify to Georgetown's humble beginnings and early struggle for prosperity.