MONT CLARE PA – Regular walkers, hikers, dog walkers, and bicyclists all likely have noticed that the water level of the Schuylkill Canal at Mont Clare PA, just north of Phoenixville on RP Route 29, has noticeably dropped. Don’t let it worry you, canal Association Executive Director Betsy Daley reports.
Historically, when the canal was in full operation during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the water level in the canal was drawn down during the winter months. This was done purposely, Daley said, to allow maintenance crews to assess the canal reach and check for leaks while the bank and towpath could be seen clearly.
The association today is able to control the water level, and fully operate the canal, through a series of restored sluice gates, Daley added. The gates are manually opened or closed by an association grounds crew. Depending on what’s needed, water can fill or be released from it with the turn of a T-wrench on the gates.
The crew expects to open the flume sluice gate, the main source of the water from the forebay, in the middle of March. It should take about a week to bring the water back up to its normal level. By the end of March, Daley noted, the Schuylkill Canal will be ready again for the 2012 recreational season.
One area of the canal at Mont Clare remains a “great concern,” however, Daley said, and boaters know it well. Sediment continues to collect at the confluence of a stream into the canal beneath its towering railroad bridge. Many canoes and kayaks barely navigate through the area in single file, she said, due to the large deposit of dirt. The association is still examining the problem, Daley added.
Photo from the Schuylkill Canal Association