2017-09-15 / Travel

The Columbia Canal, Part 1

By Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D.


These are the remains of the 1894 power plant. These are the remains of the 1894 power plant. The Columbia Canal influenced the city’s growth and was an example of 19th century engineering. Completed in 1824, the canal enabled navigation of the Broad/ Congaree River System and created inexpensive, efficient transportation across South Carolina.

Its importance decreased after development of railroads in Columbia in 1842, but the canal continued to be used for local commerce and to provide water power for local industries.

During the Civil War, the canal was leased to the Confederate government. After the war, it reverted to the state.

In 1888, as part of the post-Civil War movement to industrialize the South, the state enlarged the canal to provide a power source to the industrial development of Columbia. The enlarged canal was completed in 1891.

The canal served the establishment of mills and factories in Columbia and played an important role in the growth of the city. The canal utilize hydroelectric power to drive Columbia’s first textile mill (The building is now the S.C. State Museum.).


From this 1894 office, the canal locks were controlled. From this 1894 office, the canal locks were controlled. Since 1891 the Columbia Canal has served as a power source for the City of Columbia. It was listed in the National Register in 1979.

Continued Next Week



These 1896 watergates controlled water flow into the Columbia canal. These 1896 watergates controlled water flow into the Columbia canal.

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