South Carolina Canals - Landsford Canal

Current County

Year Started

Year Completed







~2 miles

12 feet

10 feet

1825 Map of Chester County, SC Showing Three (3) Canals

In 1820, construction of the canal, which was designed by Robert Mills, began using slave labor and skilled laborers from the northern states under the supervision of Robert Leckie. The Landsford Canal was about two (2) miles long, twelve (12) feet wide, and ten (10) feet deep. It had four (4) lifting locks and one (1) guard lock for the thirty-two (32) feet of descent along its length.

About a year after completion, in 1824, one of the locks collapsed due to an inferior foundation. Canal traffic, which had never been much, apparently ceased by 1840. It was the northernmost in a series of four canals built on the Catawba and Wateree rivers to provide a direct water route between the upcountry and the towns on the fall line. It is located on the Catawba River in Chester County, and was named for an early settler, Thomas Land, who owned the land with a ford across the Catawba River. (continues below) 

Landsford Canal

Landsford Canal Channel

Landsford Canal Bridge

Landsford Canal Lockkeeper's House

There was a rock dam in the river by the guard lock, six (6) masonry culverts, two (2) bridges (masonry and masonry/wood), and a masonry lockkeeper's house. In addition, an existing mill and millrace were incorporated into the canal near its midpoint. The contractor was Robert Leckie, later Superintendent of Masonry on the C&O Canal. The Landsford Canal's total cost was $130,000.

As one of the only canals in South Carolina remaining fairly undisturbed, all five locks are still standing and the stonework is in good condition. Though the lower end has been badly washed out by seasonal flooding, the earthen walls of the upper two-thirds of the canal stand prominently. The entire canal is now under the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.

The Landsford Canal is listed in the National Register - December 3, 1969.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved