In 1827, the village of Hollidaysburg in Blair County had a population of just 76. Five years later, following construction of the Pennsylvania Canal, the population swelled to more than 3,000, and the village was transformed into a bustling seaport. In the village’s heyday, a boat arrived every 20 minutes.
When the canal system became obsolete in the late 1850s, the canal basin was deserted, and eventually a portion was drained and filled with cinders. Later it became a utility company’s junkyard, littered with creosote-soaked poles.
Support from the Keystone Fund enabled officials, community members, and local organizations to join forces to restore the canal basin, reclaiming the historic asset and turning it into a popular park. The Hollidaysburg Women’s Club played an integral role in the project.
Situated at the midpoint of the 320-mile Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway, the park provides easy access at the eastern base of the Allegheny Ridge and offers hiking and biking trails that follow the path of boats along the original canal.
Canal Basin Park also boasts educational exhibits, an interpretive play area for children, and the Reiser House Visitor Center in a renovated Victorian home. On warm evenings, hundreds of visitors gather in the performance pavilion to watch shows under the stars.
The Pennsylvania Canal brought prosperity and people to the small communities of Blair County. Nearly two centuries later, despite being abandoned and used as dumping grounds, Canal Basin Park has been restored to its rightful place as an important resource for residents of Hollidaysburg and the region