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"Inland is, most of all, a work of the historical imagination, recovering for the viewer the significance of the long-lost canal system, a once-essential economic resource that was left behind and disappeared from view as transportation technologies changed. To imagine the Schuylkill Navigation as a whole and to realize its importance is itself of considerable importance to the nation and especially to Pennsylvanians, an act of reclamation that is at the same time an act of discovery. To imagine the Navigation as one interconnected series of dams, locks, and canal structures, as one coherent system, is the work of a truly creative artist and historian. The value of such a vision is immense—for the whole of the canal is what gives significance to each of the parts, which would otherwise disappear into the void, as nature overtakes the stones and as properties overcome the remnants of the past. Seeing the whole, and seeing the parts of the whole, changes everything. In Inland, Sandy Sorlien achieves a perfect synthesis of documentary and aesthetic modes. I can't think of another who combine the talents of Sorlien."
—Miles Orvell, Professor of English & American Studies at Temple University, author of Empire of Ruins: American Culture, Photography, and the Spectacle of Destruction (OUP, 2021)

"Sandy Sorlien's Inland represents a haunting journey through a critical waterway of Pennsylvania and the now-ruined stone architecture that gave shape to its flow. Her work documents, in remnants of living water, trails, and stone, both an economic and environmental legacy of our region. There could be nothing more important today than to embrace and rebuild the relationship between human activity and the precious, life-giving resource of water as seen in the Schuylkill Navigation."
—William R. Valerio, Ph.D., Director and CEO of the Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia

"The first time I stumbled upon the Schuylkill Navigation's Lock 68 in Manayunk while walking along the river, my jaw dropped, for here was this astonishing piece of crumbling architecture covered not only in lichens and moss, but fantastical graffiti. What was this once? And how do we keep it with us? Thankfully, Sandy Sorlien answers the first question with stunning photography and clear, concise text. I hope many Schuylkill residents and walkers like me discover her book. Then it's up to us to answer the second question: How do we preserve this remarkable history?"
—Mike Weilbacher, Executive Director of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Philadelphia

"Working with the tenacity and persistence of a detective, Sandy Sorlien navigated urban and rural landscapes of the present to find the remnants of a past—our past—that's almost invisible and nearly forgotten. In Inland, she has puzzled together a story with photographs and words, revealing an astonishing feat of engineering—the Schuylkill Navigation—along with the cultural, economic, and political capital required to complete it. The essays by Sorlien and others shine a light on early indifference to the near-destruction of a major river and its ecosystem, while the photographs act to correct a subsequent indifference to the infrastructure itself. But Inland does more than reconstruct a canal system and identify a profoundly troubling environmental past—it offers perspective that informs our present as we consider our current activities and their generational impacts."
—Byron Wolfe, Professor, Program Head, and Graduate Advisor in Photography, Tyler School of Art and Architecture, and author of Drowned River: The Death and Rebirth of Glen Canyon on the Colorado (2017) with Rebecca Solnit and Mark Klett

"Following the Schuylkill or 'hidden river,' Sandy Sorlien uncovers the sometimes forgotten but clearly not lost Schuylkill Navigation system. Her book, Inland, connects readers with the physical reminders of this influential waterway. We meet the Navigation at a crucial time, examining two centuries of its history even as some towpaths and ruins are repurposed as recreational trails and cultural sites, benefiting many former Schuylkill Canal communities. Inland exceeds at linking the past to the present, celebrating the engineering marvels of the canal era and the mystery of the surviving relics. Anyone who cares about the Schuylkill River—or American rivers and canals in general—will love exploring Inland."
—Daniel Roe, Historic Resource Supervisor, County of Berks Parks and Recreation Department, Berks County Heritage Center, Reading, Pennsylvania

 

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