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The Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace really marks the beginning of the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay opens up on one side of the city, supported by the flow of the Susquehanna River from the north.
The museum's restored lock house stands at what was once the southern terminus of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal. The 45 miles of canal ran all the way to Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, linking with other canals to open central Pennsylvania to convenient trade with Baltimore and Philadelphia. The Locktender's House was built in 1840 as the canal office and as a dwelling for the locktender and his family. In 1982, the restored house opened to the public with historical artifacts of the Havre de Grace area on display.
The Museum is open from April 11 to October 30, Friday through Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. The Museum will be closed on Sunday, April 20 through Easter.
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
Admission is free.
Visitors to the Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace can take guided tours of the house, as well as a reconstructed pivot bridge and the remains of the Canal Lock and Basin. You also can walk the towpath, cross the pivot bridge, and operate the pivot bridge.
In early December, the museum holds its annual Christmas Boutique at the Lock House. The sale offers many handmade items, plus traditional holiday gifts, wreaths, greens, and gourmet foods. And on December 9, the museum leads its annual candlelight tour of historic Havre de Grace locations, including various homes, shops, and churches. There is an admission fee; call 410-939-5780 for ticket information.
Each year, the museum conducts a two-day reenactment of the attack on Havre de Grace during the War of 1812 in early May.
The museum also sponsors a lecture series about topics of local interest.
Construction on the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal was begun in 1836 and completed in 1840. The 45 miles of canal ran from Havre de Grace at the top of the Chesapeake Bay to Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. It interconnected with nearly 4,000 miles of other canals throughout the Midwest and Eastern United States and opened central Pennsylvania to convenient trade with Philadelphia and Baltimore. A total of 29 locks, 19 in Pennsylvania and 10 in Maryland, raised or lowered canal boats a total of 233 feet to compensate for the elevation difference. The boats were pulled by mules. Lumber, farm products, and especially coal were the primary cargoes transported via the Canal during its heyday in the 1860s and 1870s. With the advent of the railroad, the role of canals began to decline. Railroads were faster, cheaper to maintain, and could operate 12 months a year. In fact, the Reading Railroad acquired the Canal in the 1870s, eventually selling it to an agent of the Philadelphia Electric Company in 1902 for the future construction of the Conowingo Dam. Thus ended the active life of the S & T Canal and the Canal Era in Havre de Grace.