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Union Canal Trail

Union Canal Bicycle & Walking Trail

Stonecliffe Recreation Area is situated on land that formerly was Gring's limestone quarry (late 19th to 20th century). Across the stream and slightly to your left stands the home of former canalman John G. Withers, built in 1856. The Union Canal, which paralleled the stream on the opposite shore, was 79 1/2 miles in length and ran from Reading on the Schuylkill River to Middletown on the Susquehanna River. The Union Canal's first engineer, William Weston, copied the narrow and shallow construction methods used in building canals in his native England. The canal, completed in 1827 at a cost of over six million dollars, was never an economic success because of the reluctance of boatmen to use the narrow channel and locks. Near the confluence of the Tulpehocken Creek and the Schuylkill River (below Stonecliffe), a weigh station was built adjacent to lock No. 52 E. to determine the net weight of the cargo transported by the barge liable for a toll charge. The average toll assessed was 1 1/2 to 2 cents per ton per mile (1830).