A towpath is a road or trail on the bank of a river, canal, or other inland waterway. The purpose of a towpath is to allow a land vehicle, beasts of burden, or a team of human pullers to tow a boat, often a barge. This mode of transport was common where sailing was impractical due to rapid current, tunnels and bridges, or unfavourable winds.
After the Industrial Revolution, towing became obsolete when engines were fitted on boats and when railway transportation superseded the slow towing method. Since then, many of these towpaths have been converted to multi-use trails. They are still named towpaths although they are not used to tow boats anymore.
Although historically not designed or used as towpaths, acequia ditch banks also are popular recreational trails.
EDITORIAL: Towpath at 10: The Ohio & Erie Canalway adds to the quality of regional life and carries the promise of an even larger contribution.(Editorial)
Oct 02, 2006; Oct. 2--In the 10 years since Congress created the Ohio & Erie Canal National Heritage Canalway, progress has been breathtaking....