Completed in 1823, Landsford Canal was twelve feet wide, ten feet deep, and two miles long. Five locks raised and lowered barges through the thirty-two-foot fall of the river.
Landsford Canal is in eastern Chester County near the Catawba River. In 1820 work commenced on the canal, which was designed by Robert Mills and built under the supervision of the Scots engineer Robert Leckie as part of a comprehensive plan of internal improvements undertaken by the state to connect fall line market towns with the upstate. Four canals were built on the Catawba and Wateree Rivers in an attempt to open navigation between Camden and the North Carolina border. Built to bypass shoals at “Land’s Ford” on the Catawba River, the Landsford Canal was constructed by local slaves and skilled white labor recruited from the North.
Completed in 1823, Landsford Canal was twelve feet wide, ten feet deep, and two miles long. Five locks raised and lowered barges through the thirty-two-foot fall of the river. Three bridges crossed the canal, and six storm culverts carried streams underneath it. The total expense of construction was estimated at $122,900. Despite the cost and admirable engineering, the Landsford Canal was not a success. A lock located on a poor foundation collapsed in 1824, which necessitated a lengthy and costly repair. Almost no tolls were collected. By 1836 all of the Catawba-Wateree canals were in poor condition, and all traffic through them apparently ceased by the end of the decade. The sturdy granite locks of the Landsford Canal survived, however, to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. The site later became the centerpiece of the Lands- ford Canal State Park. See plate 2.
Collins, Ann P. A Goodly Heritage: History of Chester County, South Carolina. Columbia, S.C.: R. L. Bryan, 1986.
Hollis, Daniel W. “Costly Delusion: Inland Navigation in the South Carolina Piedmont.” Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association (1968): 29–43.
Kohn, David, and Bess Glenn. Internal Improvement in South Carolina, 1817–1828. Washington, D.C., 1938.