City Directories and History: The Lockhart Canal is approaching 200 years of age and remains a remarkable testament to those who labored to construct in in circa 1823. It was built along with many canal projects in South Carolina during the administration of then, S.C. architect Robert Mills. The canal is approximately two and one-half miles in length and fifteen feet wide. In 1833, John Johnson and Thomas Hughes were appointed as lock keepers at the Lockhart Canal.
The canal project was constructed in hopes of bringing barge traffic from western North Carolina and the Piedmont region of South Carolina to Charleston, SC. These massive undertakings were not successful due to the flooding which regularly occurred along the Catawba and Broad rivers. One known bargeman, William Kelly of Union and Newberry counties however did successfully take cotton to market down the river from Chester, Union, Newberry, Fairfield and further into N.C. His return trip from Columbia and in some cases Charleston were loaded with finished goods for the planters of the area.
The historic Lockhart Mills were constructed across the river from the Osborne Mill site on the York County side of the Broad River. Amos W. Osborne had created a massive grist mill and sawmill operations on the west bank and operated the mills successfully well into the mid 19th century. The water power needed to operate the Lockhart Mill was provided via the dam which was constructed and displaced the old Osborne mill’s supply of water.
The YV Enquirer reported on Feb. 24, 1892 – “An election was recently held in the Jonesville and Pinckney Townships in Union Co., which approved bonds for a new railroad from Jonesville to Lockhart Shoals. A new cotton factory at Lockhart is proposed. Col. C.D. Farr has almost $500,000. in subscriptions for the mill.”
The YV Enquirer reported on April 20, 1892 – “The branch railroad from Jonesville to Lockhart Shoals is now being surveyed, with Senator Glenn D. Peake as Chief Engineer.”
The Yorkville Enquirer of May 11, 1892 reported, “The stockholders of the Charleston Cotton Mill are considering moving their plant to the Lockhart Shoals on the Broad River in Union Co. because they are having a hard time procuring enough white labor in Charleston. The shoals are owned by Col. Charles Farr and are said to furnish the finest water power in the south. The area has been looked at by Col. Joseph Walker and D.E. Converse of Spartanburg.”
The YV Enquirer of June 6, 1894 reported, “Work on the Lockhard Shoals factory was abandoned for sometime, but has now resumed and the mill will be completed. There is talk of another cotton factory on Fair Forest Creek, four miles west of Union.”
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