Guard Lock

This view shows the canal bed (looking north), just about 30 feet downstream from the culvert. The towpath may be seen on the right, which lies between the canal and the river at this point. Note that as of October 2001 (when the photograph was taken), the canal bed is filled with secondary growth trees. The ground in the canal bed is still covered with fine dark grey coal silt, deposited during times of flood.

Immediately downstream from this point (behind the camera), the canal bed widens quite a bit to nearly twice its upstream width. After another 100 feet or so, the canal narrows again at the ruins of the guardlock.


The same view, in wintertime, allows a more clear visualization of the canal bed. The canal was quite wide at this point, just upstream from the drydock and guardlock.

These large stones, on the east side of the canal bed at that point, show the likely location of the guardlock gate. There are similar stone abutments just across the canal bed here, which narrowed greatly just downstream of this gate. Here was likely a small footbridge crossing the canal, and a capstan to raise and lower the gate, allowing water to back up and fill the wide canal bed just upstream. The memoir suggests that this guardlock existed to control the canal level in times of flood and I'm guessing was built as part of the original design of the canal. This spot would be particularly dangerous in flood time because just upstream the river, canal, and creek nearly converge here. The wide section of the canal immediately above the guardlock was an ideal location for James Rickenbach's drydock, because the guardlock allowed control of the canal level at the exit of the drydock bed.

Below, the stone abutments of the guardlock may still be seen on the west side of the canal. The bridge that spanned the guardlock was probably swept away in the flood of 1933, based on the recollections of one of Curtin Rickenbach's granddaughters.

Photographs by Tom Rickenbach