“Charleston’s 19th century merchants wanted to capture the economic traffic from the upcountry.”
City Directories and History: “The name Land’s Ford, was derived from a grant in 1754 to Thomas Land of a tract containing an ancient ford. This rocky ford was an important crossing for Scotch-lrish settlers who traveled overland in wagons from Pennsylvania and settled in Chester County in the 1750’s and 1760’s. The site was also a campsite for forces under General Thomas Sumter and General William Richardson Davie. It was here where Cornwallis retreated across the ford from Charlotte to Winnsboro. In 1805, General Davie, Revolutionary Patriot, built his home overlooking Landsford, and also constructed a mill on the river. In 1822, he gave the land for the construction of the canal. His mill race was deepened and widened and was used as the upper end of the canal. Today, the walls of Davie’s mill and the rock dam over the river still remain.”(Information in part from: Chester County Heritage Book, Vol. I, Edt. by Collins – Knox, Published by the Chester Co Hist. Society – Jostens Printing, 1982)
The S.C. Dept. of Archives and History sites is a great place to start your tour of the Canal.
Historically, the Landsford Canal, completed about 1823, was an important transportation link for about fifteen years. The immediate area was involved in military movement from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War. The canal remains as the only canal existing in its entirety without encroachment in the state. The Canal parallels a two-mile section of the Catawba River. As part of the inland navigation system from the Up Country to Charleston, a series of Catawba canals were begun in 1819 and completed several years later. Landsford Canal, the highest in the system, was built by engineer Leckie. Within this section, the River falls thirty-four feet. The Canal consists of three sets of locks, a mill site, miller’s house, and a lockkeeper’s house—all in various forms of decay and ruins. The tract, including an aboriginal ford, was granted to Thomas Land in 1754, thus the derivation of its name. Listed in the National Register December 3, 1969. (SC Dept. of Archives and History)
Local farmers often refused the services of their slaves for employment in building the canals, often suggesting, “Hire the Irish.” They felt their investment in slaves were to valuable for them to be harmed in state construction projects.
The Herald reported on Sept. 9, 1896 – “Samuel Friedheim has returned from the North where he has been buying goods for his store at Landsford.”
The Herald reported on May 3, 1899 – “At a Clerk of Courts sale, 89 shares of stock of the Landsford Water Power Company were sold at auction to R.L. Kerr and the National Union Bank.”
The South Carolina Board of Public Works contracted with Robert Leckie, a native of Scotland, to build the Landsford Canal in 1820. Leckie, an engineer and master stonemason, supervised the building of the Landsford Canal, and after 153 years the stone and rock work is some of the best preserved in the United States. The Canal reflects the skills of the 19th century artisans who built it.
The keystone on the arched bridge over the locks gives the name “Robert Leckie, Contractor, 1823.” This was the date Leckie reported the canal completed. The Landsford arched bridge is an artistic combination of cut stone,and field rock. Leckie also constructed the Court House at York, South Carolina; the arsenal at Fayetteville, North Carolina; and the walls of the Botanical Gardens in Washington, D.C.
(Information in part from: Chester County Heritage Book, Vol. I, Edt. by Collins – Knox, Published by the Chester Co Hist. Society – Jostens Printing, 1982)
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