Building Bridges Foundation
Veterans Café Speaker Series

Navigating the Conestoga River

Presented by Ben Webber and Don Kautz
Thursday, June 15, 2023

Most people react in surprise when they are told that the Conestoga River was once navigable for commercial traffic. Canoes and kayaks, sure, but boats carrying cargo? It’s hard to imagine today. The City of Lancaster is known as the country’s oldest inland city, how could it be a port city? But, as we shall see, the Conestoga River was once navigable from Lancaster to the Susquehanna River. In fact, Lancastrians of the 19th century boasted that one could board a steamboat at the landing at Lancaster and sail by water all the way to Paris! Kautz and Webber’s presentation will include an overview of the Slackwater canal system that once existed on the Conestoga River from Lancaster to the Susquehanna River, photos of remnants of its locks as they appear today, and a brief history of the Conestoga Navigation Company. A Q&A session will conclude the presentation.

Ben Webber serves Lancaster Township as its municipal engineer. He grew up and resides in Manheim Township along the Conestoga River. As a civil engineer for more than 35 years, he has always been fascinated with water. A few years ago, he asked the unfortunate question “Where does the name Bridgeport come from?” His thirst for local history has been unquenched ever since.

Don Kautz grew up and has lived in Lancaster County Pennsylvania his entire life. He enjoys photographing the beauty of the county year round, and tracking down interesting stories from the past and writing about them. 

Join us during the Veterans Café at Building Bridges Foundation on Thursday, June 15, 2023 at 9:30 am for this intriguing discussion.

Admission is free to all, and includes coffee, tea, and pastries.

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The Veterans Café is located at the Building Bridges Foundation and is held every Thursday morning.

230 Indian Hill Road
Conestoga, PA