Just learned of these today.
"For many centuries, canal boats were propelled by men, horses or mules on the towpath beside the water. Before diesel power took over, engineers developed several interesting methods powered by electricity: trolleyboats, floating funiculars and electric mules. Many of these ecological solutions could be applied today instead of diesel engines. Because of the very low energy requirements, they could easily be powered by renewable energy, generated on the spot by water turbines located at sluices. One trolleyboat line is still in use." http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/12/trolley-canal-boats.html
____________________ See y'all later, Forrest. Screw the rivets, I'm building for atmosphere
I cant find the link but somewhere in Victorian England/Wales there was a canal with overhead powered boats on it BUT it power was supplied via a mesh overhead and the return was by the water. From what I remember it was problematic as water fowl used to get caught in the overhead mesh....
I vaguely remember once reading about a length of overhead powered canal but I cannot recall where or when. There is a commonly seen old photo showing an overhead cable slung on posts along a canal wharf-side but it is a very early electric light system for night-time coal handling.
Volk's Electric Railway (the beach railway) is still in regular public use.