George Wills: Photographer and Canal History Expert
One of the most knowledgeable local historians of our day was Mr. George Wills. Between George and his buddy, Earl Leiby, there wasn’t much history of the Lebanon Valley which wasn’t known. Mr. Wills documented the changing of the Valley and the surrounding areas through photography, and his collection was enormous. Now through the generosity of George’s daughter, Diane Wills Bowen, and the production skills of Charles Umberger, George’s photos are being offered to the public on a series of DVDs. All historians of Lebanon County and anyone who enjoys local photography will want to add them to their collection.
The theme of the first DVD is the Union Canal and surrounding canals of central Pennsylvania, plus the covered bridges across the state.
The second DVD is more extensive than the first and centers even more on the Union Canal. It follows the canal from the weigh station at Reading to the pumping facilities at the Water Works. Enjoy the scenes along the way of the Eastern Division of the canal as it meanders along the Tulpehocken Creek past Bernville, Womelsdorf, and Myerstown, through the summit at Lebanon and northwest to the Swatara.
The third DVD in this series features the Branch Canal, which ran from the Water Works north to Pine Grove in Schuylkill County. This secondary canal opened in 1832 to service the anthracite coal fields of central Pennsylvania. The DVD series was originally produced to spotlight the photography of George Wills, but it has been expanded to include many more historic and contemporary photos.