Canals are long flat waterways that do not follow the slope of the land, as do rivers and streams. To travel uphill or downhill, canal boats were raised or lowered in a lock. When a canal boat approached a lock, the captain would blow a horn (sometimes a conch shell) alerting the lockkeeper, whose job was to open and close the lock gate.
Once inside the lock, a crewmember would jump ashore and wrap a rope around a snubbing post, stopping the boat. Then the lockkeeper closed the gate and either raised or lowered the water, depending upon where the boat was headed. When the water in the lock equaled the next level, the gates were opened and the canal boat continued its journey.
[Left side photo/illustration caption reads]
Boats traveling upstream on the canal would enter locks like these, then the water level would raise them about 6 feet to the next level.
Pennsylvania Canal Packet Boat
Muncy Historical Society volunteers reconstructed an authentic 1860s Canal Packet Boat after salvaging the cabin.
The Packet Boat is a traveling educational exhibit. In 2004, Muncy Historical Society received recognition from both the American Association of State & Local History and the PA Federation of Museums and Historic Organizations for preserving the Packet Boat.
Boat builders, in the photograph at
right, are William Poulton, Dick Gottschall, Howard Breber & Kay Remsnyder.