Starting Point – Lock Street

This walking tour will guide you along the historic Manayunk Canal from the Lock Street Bridge in the center of Manayunk to the more natural environment of Flat Rock Dam, a distance of nearly two miles. The original towpath was the path used by mules as they pulled canal boats carrying coal and passengers through the water. The railway covered it in 1889. The path you are walking on is part of the Schuylkill River Trail.

Canal at Lock Street.

Manayunk’s Canal is significant among the structures left from Philadelphia’s industrial 19th century heyday. As a part of Pennsylvania’s earliest slackwater canal system, the original Schuylkill Navigation System was a 108 mile series of dams, locks, slackwater and canal segments. Its purpose was to bring coal from Schuylkill County to Philadelphia. The Canal created a navigable waterway in Manayunk which was completed in 1818, and also carried water to drive the water wheels and turbines for industry. The availability of water power led Manayunk and ultimately Philadelphia into the industrial era, with Philadelphia becoming one of the dominant American industrial cities of the 19th century.

Railroad Bridge c. 1889 – replaced old mule bridge c. 1819

Blackie Bridge with Towpath from Manayunk.

Krook’s Mill c. 1922, now Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant

Former site of Krooks Mill, c.1922.

Locks 69 and 70 – The Manayunk Canal flows into the Schuylkill River at Locks 69 and 70. Located south of the Lock street Bridge and directly behind the old Krook’s Woolen Mill, the locks allowed canal boats to travel the Canal by either raising or lowering the level of water between each lock gate. This double chamber has a 23’ change in water level.

Lower Locks.

The Mills of Manayunk

Many of the stone buildings along the Towpath were once textile mills. They were part of a large textile manufacturing center that produced, among other things, cotton blankets for the Union Army during the Civil War.

Mill Buildings Still Standing:
Schofield Mill (c. 1857 – now Richards Apex)

Schofield Mill Building, now RichardsApex.

Blantyre Mill (c. 1847 – at corner of Cotton and Main Streets) (

Former Blantyre Mill.

Above Cotton Street, you’ll see two small iron bridges over the Canal. These bridges provided mill workers with access to and from the McDowell Paper Mill (c. 1828) and its offices. The Canal was once lined with mills on either side and small bridges like these were very common.

Main and Green Ln 1918.

Manayunk Mills Post card mid 1800s.

Mural Across from Canal View Park

This mural by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program depicts Manayunk’s industrial heritage as the “Manchester of America”

Industrial Heritage Mural.

Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge (c. 1918) - Manayunk’s landmark bridge may soon become a rail to trails project connecting Lower Merion Township Trails to Philadelphia.

Main and Green Lane before the PA RR Bridge.

PA Railroad Bridge under construction.

Blankin Mill (c. 1870’s)

Canal 1918 - Blankin (NAMICO).

Fountain Street Bridge

A gang of thieves called the Schuylkill Rangers used the Fountain Street Bridge, and other similar bridges, to ambush canal boats by jumping down onto the boats as they passed underneath. The leaders of the Schuylkill Rangers were Harry “Red” Carroll and “Wild Bill” Katon.

Fountain St-Polar Bear Club.

Original location of the American Wood Paper Co. and Nixon Paper Co., early producers of wood pulp used for papermaking.

Along the canal 1918 in the vicinity of Paper co.

Locktender’s House

Through the trees you may be able to see the ruins of the locktender’s house. Captain Winfield Scott Guiles was the locktender at lock 68 for more than 60 years. His wife, a Lenni-Lenape Indian known as the “Manayunk Healer,” treated the people of Manayunk when they were ill with herbs, leaves, and bark from local plants.

Remains of Locktenders House.

Lock 68 and Sluice House

Now in ruins, the sluice house once housed the machinery that controlled water flow into the Canal. When the canal was in operation, water from the Schuylkill River was channeled into a sluiceway, and was either let through or held back by the opening or closing of the sluice gates. Water level in the Canal was critical to the operation of the mills.

Canal above Manayunk.

Exist Lock 68 - 1918.

Lock 68.

Sluice House Gears closeup.

Flat Rock Dam

Originally built in 1818, the dam was destroyed by a flood in 1839 and was rebuilt.

Above Flat Rock Dam 1918.


The Canal Towpath ends at the Shawmont neighborhood, but the Schuylkill River Trail continues to Valley Forge and beyond, after a brief on-road portion on Nixon Street. Bikers should bear right before crossing over the tracks a second time to reconnect with the trail.

Shawmont Avenue Train Station.

Shawmont Memorial.