Canal Tunnel Park & Boat Rides Info
Union Canal Tunnel Park
Park located at 25th & Union Canal Drive, Lebanon, PA (North of Lebanon Valley Mall). Park open year-round from dawn to dusk. Pets are welcomed but must remain leashed at all times.
Updated September 2014
As of now, the repair continues for the boats. We hope to have the boats ready for the 2015 Season as we rely entirely on volunteer work and private resources; thank you for your understanding and patience in the meantime.
Update December 2013 by Dave Ravegum, Executive Committee Chair for the FUCTP
Repair work on the Meily continues. Sanding is completed for now and patch work has begun. As a note, all of the sanding material and the majority of the sanders, grinders, etc. were donated. All donations towards the repair costs of the Meily are greatly appreciated. To ensure that we maximize Capt. Jim’s (Consultant/Boat Builder) time in Lebanon, we are sending him pictures and having phone conferences before scheduling each of his visits. As he does not bill for phone or email communications, we feel this process will help us avoid any unnecessary repair costs.
This past week Marty Brandt and I felt we had carefully followed Capt. Jim’s instructions regarding preparation of patches and internal bracing for repairs to the 16 foot seam and we planned to schedule a visit this week to install and seal the patches. During a conference call on Thursday last, we reviewed the photos we sent him of our work and he wanted changes. We are now in the process of changing the sizes of the patches (different lengths) and preparing additional bracing under the patches. We are basically, reshaping our patches and expanding the areas under the bottom scuff-boards/runners (removing good core material so that the repair area on each side of the runners is the same width). This will allow secondary sealing/bonding on all longitudinal patch seams by eliminating seams underneath the runners. Marty is now making videos to send instead of pictures. We are doing our very best to ensure that fiberglass and epoxy training and repair work will be accomplished during Capt. Jim’s next visit. Our goal is not to waste his time or our money and still have a professionally repaired boat ready for the water by Canal Days. We believe that careful and detailed preparation prior to each of his visits is essential to achieving that goal.
On his next visit, we hope to complete most, if not all, of the 16 foot seam repair work and several other minor, non-structural repairs as well as adding at least one new layer of fiberglass on a portion of the bottom of the boat. Adding a new layer of glass to the bottom of the boat may or may not be possible based on the Captains’ timing for repairs to non-structural delaminated areas on the bottom, which he hasn’t fully shared with us yet. Once we have added one new layer of glass on the bottom under Capt. Jim’s direct supervision, we will be cleared to add the rest of the bottom layers without him being physically present. We will still have to meet all of his professional standards/requirements and he will carefully inspect our work prior to allowing us to move forward to the next phase of repair.
Over the past two weeks we crawled under the boat and removed enough of the bench/seating area and portions of the longitudinal stringers to fully inspect the internal compartments of the boat. We are sending video to Capt. to review. We found there was water leaking through the deck and collecting in the bottom of the boat causing water damage to much of the untreated wooden cross bracing/cleats inside the compartments. Capt. Jim’s initial plan regarding that matter is to remove all wooden cleats and seal the bulkheads, stringers and the bottom with resin fillets. This is a fairly straight forward process that will strengthen the boat as well as reduce its overall weight.
We heard from Benson Boat Design this week and they are proposing the new boat they are designing for us be 30’ long and 9’ wide. The boat will be 4’ 3” in height and feature forward facing seating for 30 passengers and additional seating for three crewmembers. The two rear seats are designed to be removable to accommodate wheel chairs. A scaled concept drawing was emailed to Patty Ravegum on the 10th of December. I have attached that drawing. As the scale was distorted during the email encapsulation process, I have taken the liberty to add some of the dimensions on the attached copy. The cabin is not shown on the drawing but will be included on the next set of drawings. The committee reviewed the forward seating concept drawings at their 10 December meeting. Their initial impression was that forward seating is a workable solution worthy of further consideration if there are no objections.
The boat being designed and the Meily, when repairs are completed, will meet all CFRs required by the U.S. Coast Guard, will meet all American Boat and Yacht Council recommendations, and will meet all National Fire Protection Association standards.
***UPDATED NOVEMBER 7TH, 2013
Status of the Canal Boats
The two boats that are used to give rides at the Tunnel Park must undergo repairs in order to meet United States Coast Guard (USCG) requirements as specified by the PA Fish and Boat Commission. The first goal is to have the Meily certified and in the water for Union Canal Days in May of 2014. The second goal is to repair or replace the Leiby and have a second certified boat in the water for Scare Affair 2014, or sooner if possible.
The Friends of the Union Canal Tunnel Park and the Historical Society have retained a consultant who is an authorized USCG boat builder. He will supervise the boat repairs and construction of a new boat if the Leiby is to be replaced. He is also coordinating phased inspections by the local marine surveyor during the repair process. After the satisfactory completion of all the repairs, the surveyor will make certification to the Fish and Boat Commission that the boats are in compliance with the equipment and vessel construction CFRs required by the USCG, the American Boat and Yacht Council recommendations and the National Fire Protection Association standards. After the Fish and Boat Commission receives his certification, boat rides can be resumed.
The Leiby is the older of the two boats and may be ready for replacement due to age and the results of recent stability tests that restrict it to a total capacity of 18 passengers and crew. In that regard a new boat design is being prepared by a professional design company so that an accurate cost estimate for a new boat can be obtained. Only then can an informed decision be made regarding repair or replacement of the Leiby.
Both boats were pulled out of the water on the 16th of October with the help of a crane from Bamberger’s Crane Service of Lebanon. Rick French was also on hand to assist. A special thank you to both gentlemen who took valuable time and resources away from their business to remove the boats from the water and get the Meily in the maintenance shed!
Preliminary repairs to the Meily are scheduled to begin on the 24th of October. Volunteers working under the direct supervision of the consultant will perform the repairs. Contact Marty Brandt (717 679-8954) or Dave Ravegum (570 345-2340) if you would like to help.
Boat Rides on the Union Canal CURRENTLY NOT OFFERED FOR SUMMER 2014
Each Sunday, June through October 12:30 – 4:30PM. $6/Adult, $3/Child. Children under age of 6 ride FREE. Weather Permitting.
Union Canal Days
May 18th and 19th, 2013. [More Info»]
July 4th Special Rides
4:30 – 9PM. Free ice cream for each rider, plus reduced fares. Stay to watch the fireworks from the Park!
Halloween Scare Affair
October 17, 18, and 19, 6-9PM. With rides through the “Tunnel of Darkness”, games for children and great food. [More Info»]
Private Group Rides
Group rides can be arranged for most days two weeks in advance. Please call 717-272-6949 to make your reservation.
Friends of the Union Canal Tunnel Park (FUCTP)
In April, 1950, the Lebanon County Historical Society purchased the Union Canal Tunnel, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 1, 1974. Throughout the years, many volunteers have donated their services at the Tunnel, together with county donated manpower, to maintain and prepare it as a recreational site open to the public.
The Union Canal Tunnel Park, located at 25th Street and Union Canal Drive, was dedicated by the Lebanon County Historical Society on October 9, 1988. The Union Canal Tunnel was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior on April 19, 1994. The Park is maintained by a group of volunteers know as Friends of the Union Canal Tunnel Park.
On September 9, 2006, the North section of the Park, located across Tunnel Hill Road, was dedicated and opened to the public. Together with the original property, the Union Canal Tunnel Park is comprised of 110 acres of recreational open space.The Park is open year-round from dawn to dusk, with picnic tables and pavilion, benches, and several marked walking trails. There is no admission charge.
Narrated boat rides on the canal and through the tunnel are available for a nominal fee every Sunday, as weather permits, during the months of June through October, from 12:30 to 4:30PM. Enjoy a leisurely boat ride while learning some of the history of the Lebanon Valley. Private groups can make reservations for rides at other times by calling 717-272-6949. The Park is also available for class reunions, family gatherings, and weddings. For group reservations or more information, call the Historical Society office.
Public Service Announcement: April 1, 2012
It has come to the attention of the Board of Trustees of the Lebanon County Historical Society that dogs have been let loose to run at the Union Canal Park even though signs have been in place to have dogs-on-a-leash. Please be kindly advised from here on, all dogs must be leashed. Due to some events of unacceptable interaction between owners’ dogs and the public we have received notice from some individuals and our insurance carrier to put into effect a no-tolerance policy of dogs unleashed. If after 30 days from this notice, this notice is not followed, we will have to exclude pets from the Union Canal Park. Please obey the signs so everyone can enjoy the park!
To report unleashed dogs, or any other illegal activites, please contact the North Lebanon Township Police: 717-273-8141