Schuylkill Navigation Maps
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 Appraisal Schuylkill Navigation Co. Canal for Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


Brief History


Property Values:
Berks Co.

Chester Co.

Montgomery Co.

Philadelphia Co.

Purpose of Appraisal
       The appraisers were asked to determine the Fair Market Value of the property as of April 1st, 1947, on which date the property was contributed to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Brief History of the Property to be Appraised

     The Schuylkill Navigation Company was granted in 1815 a perpetual charter under a special Act of Pennsylvania for the purpose of making lock navigation on the Schuylkill River. It was also empowered by that act to use, sell or lease the water power from the river and canal, provided that it be done in such a manner as not to interfere with the navigation, and that the proceeds therefrom [sic] be applied to the improvement of the navigation and the maintenance of the dams and locks. In 1901, a general act was passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature giving the canal companies the right to use, lease, sell or convey, for domestic manufacturing and commercial purposes, the whole or any portion of the water supply theretofore used for navigation purposes. This general act contains no provisions concerning the application of the proceeds from the sale or lease of the water.

       The canal was constructed between Port Carbon and Philadelphia, a distance of One Hundred Eight Miles. The Navigation Company operated its canal until December 31, 1869. Effective January 1, 1870, its entire canal and navigation works were leased to the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company for 999 years under an Indenture dated July 12, 1870. In the same Indenture the Navigation Company conveyed to the Railroad Company all its property, subject only to the above leasehold. The consideration for the lease and conveyance was, among other things, the covenant on the part of the Railroad Company to pay certain annual rental sufficient to meet the interest on the obligations of the Navigation Company and dividends on its stock, and to keep and maintain the canal and navigation works in good order and condition during the term of the 999-year lease, subject to the right of the Railroad Company to abandon that portion of the canal north of Port Clinton. This entire portion of the canal was physically abandoned on or before 1887.

     Under the Reorganization Plan of 1886 of The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company, approximately 99% of the securities of the Navigation Company were acquired between 1888 and 1896 by the Railroad Company through the issuance if its own securities.

     In 1896 the property of the Railroad Company, including its leasehold interest in the canal and navigation works, was sold under foreclosure proceedings to Messrs. Coster and Stetson as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. In accordance with the privilege granted them in the deed for the property, Messrs. Coster and Stetson notified the Navigation Company on November 11, 1896, if their election not to assume the lease of the canal and navigation works.
       On December 23, 1896, Messrs. Coster and Stetson conveyed, in fee, among other things, to the Reading Company those portions of the property formerly of the Navigation Company which were not required for the operation of the canal and navigation works. At that time Reading Company also became the owner of the securities of the Navigation Company which were formerly owned by the old Railroad Company.
      On November 30, 1896, the Navigation Company entered into an agreement for the temporary operation of its canal and navigation works by the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company, which had succeeded to the Railroad property of the old Railroad Company. This temporary arrangement was terminated on or about April 9, 1902, and since that time the Navigation Company has conducted its own operations under a resolution of its Board adopted April 9, 1902.

      On February 27, 1906, Mr. Stetson (Mr. Coster being deceased) assigned to the Reading Company all his rights to the water rents formerly of the Navigation Company, which passed to the old Railroad Company under the indenture of July 12, 1870. Some of the grants which produced these water rents have been extinguished in recent years. At the present time there remain in existence thirteen grants, with an annual aggregate charge of approximately $6,700. In addition, there is a perpetual grant of surplus water to the Philadelphia Hydro-Electric Company (now Philadelphia Electric Company), which was created by the Navigation Company in 1907 and which now produces an annual revenue of approximately $14,000. This rent is paid direct to the Navigation Company, while the rents from the other water power grants are collected by Reading Company.
       On March 4, 1908, Mr. Stetson conveyed, by blanket deed to Reading Company, all his rights, title and interest in the property formerly of the Navigation Company, and which had not been conveyed by Messrs. Coster and Stetson to Reading Company in 1896.
Encroachments by Reading Company

   At various points between Manayunk and Norristown, and between Bridgeport and Phoenixville, the embankment and structures if the railroad encroach upon the towpath of the Navigation Company, and north of Phoenixville the embankment of the railroad encroaches upon the bed of the branch canal of the Navigation Company.

   The bridge carrying the Venice Branch over the Schuylkill River at Pencoyd was originally built a tow-path [sic] bridge by the Navigation Company. In 1889 the bridge was rebuilt by the old Reading Company for the purpose of carrying the Venice Branch as well as the towpath of the Navigation Company over the river.

A bridge of Reading Company carrying the Penn Hardware Branch over the canal and a City Bridge in which Reading's track is located, south of Spruce Street Reading, are of less than standard clearance over the canal, so that they would not interfere to some extent with the operation of the canal at this point.

Other Encroachments

     Numerous encroachments upon the bed and embankments of the canal north of Phoenixville have been made by adjoining owners, who, in many cases, have enclosed it with fences. In nearly all cases the encroachments have been made with the written understanding that they will be discontinued promptly upon request.


      The portion of the canal north of Phoenixville except between Birdsboro and Klapperthal has been physically abandoned and considerable work would have to be done to make this portion of the canal suitable for navigation. At twenty-three points north of Phoenixville bridges have been replaced by solid embankments over the canal. Some of these embankments carry state highways, all of which were constructed by the State Highway Department. At other places, where bridges have been removed by local authorities or individuals, and replaced by embankments, the Navigation Company in most cases has been relieved from future maintenance of the crossings.




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