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"Take the old canals, right? They'll get you to Eli's lab. It's a dangerous route, but there's a whole network of refugees and they'll help you if they can."
Barney Calhoun[src]

The Canals are a network of rivers and drainage tunnels which served as both drainage and possibly transportation located in City 17 and the Wasteland. The Resistance set up several outposts and supplies throughout the route due to its toxic environment allowing for some natural protection from The Combine.



The canals near or in City 17 appear to be heavily used for drainage of raw sewage, and have a very large network of sewage pipes and waste disposal tunnels. Because of the Combine invasion and the drop of Earth's resources, the canals near the city have almost all drained out, and what remains is the riverbed and a large amount of hazardous chemical waste. The canals are infested with Xen wildlife, made worse by constant Headcrab shells being fired by the Combine at Resistance outposts.

Outside City 17, the canals appear to be more rivers and waterways than tunnels and sewers, and were probably used more for transportation purposes than draining and waste disposal, as shown by the many shipwrecks along the larger tunnels. The water levels, however, are low, and following the Combine's invasion, a large portion of the canals in both the city and outside had been filled with toxic chemical waste or other highly hazardous materials.

Civil Protection units frequently patrolled the canals for the Resistance's activity and were tasked with maintaining the many useful buildings and outposts located along the riverbed.

Resistance presence[]

The Resistance had established an organised system of stations nicknamed "The Underground Railroad" for refugees hoping to escape City 17. Through the use of a short-wave radio network and hidden bases containing supplies and living quarters, the Resistance had formed a rather strong foothold in the canal area.

The Resistance used both the canals inside City 17 and outside, and repurposed the many useful tunnels and drainage areas to secretly establish living areas and outposts.


Half-Life 2[]

With the arrival of Gordon Freeman, Civil Protection was fully aware of the presence of the Resistance's refugee stations, and were conducting raids on the stations and killing Resistance personnel. The chase was made harder by Gordon's use of an Airboat to evade pursuit, and a Hunter-Chopper was deployed to better track and hunt him. However the tides turned when Gordon's vehicle was upgraded with a pulse cannon allowing Freeman to fend off and destroy the Chopper. Eventually all the stations were either found and destroyed, or were closed down and abandoned. Freeman did however destroy almost all of the Civil Protection's outposts on his way to Black Mesa East in turn.

Behind the scenes[]


Half-Life 2 Beta All Canals maps (All credit goes to the HL2 Beta team)

  • The Canals were originally to feature Bullsquids (which makes sense as there are many areas where toxic waste was flourishing). However, this was cut from the final release.[4][5]
  • The levels were also to be much longer and allow the player a deeper view of the Wasteland part of the Canals.[4]





List of appearances[]


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