Mule-Fueled Waterway

Mule-Fueled Waterway (HM2GQ4)

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N 37° 32.203', W 77° 29.2'

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The granite basin at your feet is a canal lock, a way to link high bodies of water to low ones. There are two locks in this park. They were built around 1830 by black slaves, Irish immigrants and Italian stone masons and are part of the Kanawha Canal — the great water highway that connected Richmond to the western part of Virginia.

These are called Three Mile Locks because they are that distance from the beginning of the canal (the Turning Basin) which was located along Canal Street between 7th and 12th Streets where the James Center is today.

How They Worked

When the gates on the right were closed, a boat could enter from the left. The left gates would close behind the boat. The water level in the lock would rise as water entered on the right through small openings near the bottom called wicket gates. When the water was level in the upper section, the right gates would open and the boat could proceed upstream. The process was reversed to move downstream.

Note the foot-deep niches in the walls on both sides of the lock. This is where the canal gates rested when they were open. The curved end of the niche is where the gates swung on large wooden posts.

The Tow Path

Mules (and horses) pulled the boats
with heavy ropes.

The strip of land on the opposite side is the towpath where they once walked.

With care, you may find a few shallow grooves along the edge of the lock. These were made by ropes abrading the rock while holding boats in place as the water level changed.
HM NumberHM2GQ4
Placed ByKanawha Kiwanis Club
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, May 11th, 2019 at 8:04pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 280293 N 4157320
Decimal Degrees37.53671667, -77.48666667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 32.203', W 77° 29.2'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 32' 12.18" N, 77° 29' 12" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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