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The museum’s collections reflect the material culture and document the history of America’s canals and navigable rivers, as well as canal-related industries in the Lehigh Valley. The museum’s holdings include 3,753 artifacts; 3,890 reels of film, video cassettes and audio (oral history) tapes; 52,782 slides, photographs and negative images; 31,824 engineering drawings; a library of more than 13,483 volumes; 736 linear feet of manuscript materials; and 261 rolls of microfilm. Among the museum’s archival holdings are rare film footage of canal life, historic photographs, canal maps, captain’s logs, a complete set of the Army Corps of Engineers’ annual reports to Congress, and engineering plans for 15 towpath canals east of the Mississippi River.
The National Canal Museum is responsible for interpreting the historic structures and sites within the 260 acres that comprise Hugh Moore Park, a National Register Historic District. These include Section 8 of the Lehigh Canal and its three operating locks, a locktender’s house, ruins from three 19th century industrial areas, and the Change Bridge, one of the first iron cable suspension bridges constructed in America.
The variety of artifacts and research materials promotes the appreciation, preservation and restoration of canal-related sites in the United States and Canada. Our interpreters use these resources to show visitors how canals helped create a regional and national economy. Visitors also learn about life on the canal and discover the technological advances that canals introduced. Through on and off-site education programs we promote learning and appreciation of the transportation and industrial revolutions in the economic, technological and cultural history of the United States and the Lehigh Valley region.