Canals & Waterways


Yes, canal builders found it occasionally necessary to build tunnels. Some had towpaths and some didn't. In the old days, boats were "legged" through tunnels without towpaths. One method was to lie on the roof of the boat and push against the tunnel ceiling.

The longest U.K. tunnel of all:
Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal- 3.24 miles (5.21 km) long. Reopened in 2001
The second longest U.K. tunnel that's still open:
Dudley Tunnel on the Dudley No. 1 Canal- 1.80 miles (2.90 km) long. Image of tunnel entrance.
Martin Clark has provided a more detail and extensive list of the Longest Canal Tunnels in England
The longest(?) tunnel in continental Europe:

The longest canal tunnel in the USA:
The Paw-Paw Tunnel on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. 0.59 miles (.95 km) long. (Tunnel closed to boats. Walk towpath only.)

Detailed and extensive list of The World's longest Navigation Canal Tunnels, and, from the same site, many additional details and links on canal tunnel history.
The most amusing tunnel sign (U.K.):
"IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to operational constraints and the need for economy, Management regret to announce that the light at the end of the tunnel has been switched off".
...and a quote passed on by Bill Davies, original source unknown:
"A pessimist is someone who believes that the light at the end of the tunnel is another, on-coming, boat."

Link to main canals page.
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Text, graphics, and photos Copyright © 1995-2011 by George Pearson.
Last Modified: Thursday, 13-Sep-07 9:00 pm EDT