Competition from railroads was a large factor in the canal's decline after 1855. and is undated but the assumption is the original was created while the canal was in use.
Canal remnants, including a lock keeper's house, have been preserved in Maryland, and locks 12 and 15 have been preserved in Pennsylvania. In the 1820s, seeking raw materials from and trade with Pennsylvania's interior counties, residents of the large port city of Baltimore favored building a canal along the lower Susquehanna linking Chesapeake Bay to Pennsylvania's Main Line of Public Works at Columbia, Pennsylvania, across the river from Wrightsville.
The canal had 29 locks overcoming 231 feet (70 m) of elevation.At Wrightsville and the Columbia–Wrightsville canal basin, it connected with the Pennsylvania Canal's Eastern Division, part of the Main Line of Public Works.The Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal between Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, and Havre de Grace, Maryland, at the head of Chesapeake Bay, provided an interstate shipping alternative to 19th-century arks, rafts, and boats plying the difficult waters of the lower Susquehanna River.Built between 18, it ran 43 miles (69 km) along the west bank of the river and rendered obsolete an older, shorter canal along the east bank.
Since this was only 20 miles (32 km) further by water than from Havre de Grace to Baltimore, the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal stood to benefit both cities.
Despite toll collections rising from ,000 in its first year to about four times that amount by 1850, the canal company faced money problems.