Union Canal is one of the oldest existing transportation tunnels in the country. Lebanon Daily News rated Union Canal Tunnel Park as the #1 Historical Attraction in Lebanon County. When completed in 1828 the tunnel was an engineering marvel due to tunneling through 729 feet of rock.
The Union Canal Tunnel Park is open from dawn to dusk each day. The parks 109 acres of meadows and woodland surround the historic transportation tunnel. The 5/8th mile water canal was completed in 1827. A towpath along the canal once used by mules now may be hiked. Marked trails are throughout the wooded hill of the canal park. The mouth of the tunnel is a great spot for a picnic.
Canal boat rides through the tunnel are planned the 2nd and 4th Sundays during June through October. Rides are scheduled from 12:30 to 4:30 PM. Night rides are conducted from 8:00 to 10:00 PM during a full moon. Adult canal rides cost $6.00 with reduced rates for children. Park parking is at 25th street and Union Canal Drive, Lebanon. The tunnel may be reached from Tunnel Hill Road parking lot.
Union Canal was a 75-mile towpath canal connecting Philadelphia with the Susquehanna River from Middletown on the Susquehanna below Harrisburg to Reading on the Schuylkill River. This was an important link for the commercial centers of Harrisburg and Reading to the port at Philadelphia. The canal was called the ‘Golden Link’ since it transported anthracite coal and lumber east to Philadelphia. Construction was started in 1792 with completion in 1828. The canals life span was limited closing in the 1880’s with ruminants remaining to this day.
Lebanon is a Pennsylvania city known as Steitztown with a population of 25,477. It is 26 miles east of Harrisburg and 29 miles west of Reading. The Quittapahilla Creek drains west into Swatara Creek then Susquehanna River. A nearby creek was named ‘Steitz Creek’ since many colonists had names of ‘Steitz’ or ‘Light’. Five different native Indian tribes inhabited the area before European colonists settled it in 1720.
Palmyra is 8 miles west of Union Canal Tunnel Park between Lebanon and Harrisburg with neighboring Hershey. It has a population of 7,096, and a prosperous community due to its location.
Hershey with its population of 14,257 is 11 miles west of Union Canal Tunnel Park. The community is well known for Hershey Foods Corporation factory, one of the largest chocolate and cocoa plants in the world.
Union Canal Tunnel Park is a 4.5 hour drive of 276 from Rochester NY. Drive south on route 15 from Rochester into Pennsylvania past Williamsburg and Lewisburg to Harrisburg. Then drive east on route 322, and at Hershey route 422 to Lebanon.
Union Canal Tunnel Park can be a great place to visit, its location nearby Hershey Park, with many attractions to visit. Put this on you list of things to do.