The D&H Canal was originated by Philadelphia drygoods merchants Maurice & William Wurts as a means to transport anthracite coal from their Pennsylvania mines to the Hudson River at Rondout (Kingston), New York. On the Hudson goods could move south to New York City as well as north to the Erie Canal at Albany. The 108-mile, 108-lock waterway was America's first million dollar private enterprise and operated from 1828 until 1898. The D&H was at the forefront of technology in the 19th Century. Famed civil engineer John Jervis designed the innovative D&H Gravity Railroad. John Roebling designed and built 4 suspension aqueducts for the canal in 1848-52. The D&H's Stourbridge Lion was the first steam locomotive run in America, albeit for one day.
The canal was constructed along a previously unsettled route in less than three years using only picks, shovels, draft animals and blasting powder. Towns and villages sprang up along its route, and industries developed to exploit local resources such as lumber, agricultural products, and bluestone. Natural (hydraulic) cement was discovered near High Falls in 1825, and was used in constructing the canal and in building structures such as the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty. The availability of anthracite coal was also a boon to the Hudson Valley brick industry, which supplied the building needs of metropolitan New York and was eventually the fuel of choice for steamboats.
Resources for learning more about the D&H Canal can be found on the links page.