Canal Boats Used to Haul Cargo in 1800s

Canal Boats Used to Haul Cargo in 1800s

Did you know … Canal boats weren’t just used by passengers.  Freight boats were another important part of traveling on the canal. The mules on the towpath hauled large loads. The cargo could weigh from fifty to eighty tons. The boats carried salt pork, lard, coal, flour, lumber, coffee, tea, chocolate, wheat, corn, cheese, wool, cloth, sugar, and molasses. A team of horses couldn’t pull fifty tons over land in a wagon. The water helped to carry the load. Think of the big trucks on the highways today. They haul large loads over great distances.  Freight boats did this job over one hundred fifty years ago. The captain’s family and crew lived on the freight boats, which were about seventy to eighty feet long and fourteen feet wide. During the winter months...

Read More

Canal Boats Carried Passengers in 1800s

Canal Boats Carried Passengers in 1800s

Did you know …   If you traveled in the1800s, you might have purchased tickets for a passenger boat (called a passenger packet) on a canal. Early travelers used these manmade water routes before trains became popular. Electric motors hadn’t been invented yet. Mules usually powered canal boats. Tied to a rope attached to the boat, mules walked along a towpath and pulled the heavy boats behind them. A towpath was a cleared path beside the canal. A mule driver (also called a muleskinner) walked next to the mules to guide them along the towpath. Teenaged boys often served as muleskinners. Often the ship’s captain also owned the boat. In addition to the captain, a steersman steered the boat, and the bowsman assisted the lockmaster at locks located along...

Read More