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C Howard Hiester Canal Center

Through an extensive inventory including artifacts from the Schuylkill Navigation Company and the Hiester Boatyard, the C. Howard Hiester Canal Center presents a coherent story of canal transportation. It displays this country's early growth and specifically the important contribution the canal system made to the history of Berks County.


Canals saw their rise and fall in the 19th century. They offered means of bulk transportation and travel in the era prior to railroads when the only alternative to walking was the horse and wagon.

Mr. Hiester gathered as many artifacts and representative items as possible from that section of the Schuylkill Canal between Reading and Philadelphia. He accumulated a wealth of memorabilia that might otherwise have been lost. This included the houseboat "Mildred," which plied the Schuylkill Canal between Reading and Philadelphia, a toll collection booth, and a pilot house from the tugboat "Dolphin."

The end result was that Mr. Hiester had acquired the largest private collection of 19th century canal memorabilia in America. Through the efforts of one man, we have the opportunity to view the most extensive private collection of a former era.

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