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New book says Pa Canal System helped build Perry County - abc27 WHTM

New book says Pa Canal System helped build Perry County

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Hosting more than its share of water frontage in Pennsylvania, Perry County was a key player in the glory years of the Pennsylvania Canal System. It served as a vital link in a statewide rail and canal network that first connected Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in the 1800s.

"Most people don't realize it was the canals that really fueled the western expansion of the United States," noted Dennis Hocker, author of 'Towpaths and Aqueducts,' a book detailing the impact of the canal system to the river towns along its path.

"I've been shocked at the massive scale we're talking about," said Hocker. "I'm shocked at the size that everything was and the amount of freight that was carried."

Although the book focuses primarily on Perry County communities along the canal, it notes the importance of the Clark's Ferry bridge and Duncan's Island in neighboring Dauphin County.

"Everything that went West, went through Perry County," said Hocker. " That meant crossing Clark's Ferry Bridge. It meant going up Duncan's Island. It meant across the Juniata at the Aqueduct Bridge. Then, up through Newport, Millerstown and on into Juniata County."

He added, "The canal was truly the center of activity for the people of Perry County in those days"

And more than a century since its demise, remnants of the 4 mile per hour transit system are still visible in spots along its former route. But much of the canal today lies buried under highways many of us travel every day.

The book is Hocker's latest in a series of books dedicated to what he calls the "lost and forgotten history of Perry County and surrounding areas."

When asked why he is writing so many books about his native Perry County, Hocker responded, "I guess it's my personal mission to record this stuff so that the generations that come actually remember it."

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