This subject is related to the Combine era.


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This subject is related to the Combine era.

This article is about the location. For the Half-Life 2 chapters, see Route Kanal or Water Hazard.

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Canals composite.jpg
Canalmap sheet.png
General information

Combine occupation

Game information
  • background02
  • d1_canals_01 to
"Get out of City 17 as fast as you can, Gordon! 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, located in City 17 and the Wasteland. After the Combine occupation, they began serving as an escape route for refugees trying to leave City 17 on foot.



The canals near and in City 17, connecting the urban center to a river system and dam where its water supply is pumped,[9] appear to be heavily used as drainage and have a very large network of sewers and waste tunnels. Because of the Combine's invasion and subsequent drainage of Earth's resources, the canals near the city have almost all emptied out, with the riverbed and a large amount of waste remaining. The network is infested with Xen wildlife, and constantly shelled by the Combine.

Outside City 17, the tunnels and sewers give way to rivers and waterways, which are used for transportation rather than drainage and waste disposal, as shown by the many shipwrecks along the larger tunnels. The water levels, however, are low, and following the Combine invasion, a large portion of the canals in both the City and outside have become flooded with toxic waste or other hazardous materials.

Civil Protection units frequently patrol the Canals for the Resistance activity, and are tasked with maintaining the many Combine buildings and outposts located along the rivers. The Combine refer to broad areas within this region with code names such as canal block, storm system, waste river and deserviced area.[10]

Resistance presence[edit]

Main article: Underground Railroad

The Resistance established an organized system of stations, living areas and bases, using the many tunnels and drainage areas both in the canals inside and outside the City, for refugees hoping to escape Combine oppression. Through the use of radios and hidden bases containing supplies and living quarters, humans and Vortigaunts formed a fairly strong foothold in the canal areas.

Major locations[edit]

Captioned map[edit]

Map Captions
Canalmap sheet numbered.png

Partial in-game map of the Canals, rather close to the in-game layout, with notable points added in visit order. Found in the Resistance point where the Airboat gun is provided, it includes only the section between that particular point and Black Mesa East.

0. General zone including the collapsing chimneys; doesn't match the game
1. Springboard puzzle
2. Resistance point where the Airboat gun is provided
3. CP ambush
4. CP tunnel attack
5. APC attack
6. Small abandoned Resistance settlement
7. Explosive barrel-throwing CPs
8. APC attacks
9. Tunnel turned into a straight line in-game
10. Hunter-Chopper showdown lake
11. Helipad and CP station
12. Singing Vortigaunt
13. Dam
14. Black Mesa East

Station 1[edit]

Main article: Station 1

The first underground railroad base encountered by Gordon Freeman during his trek through the sewers. It was raided by Civil Protection shortly before Gordon's arrival, and the rebels stationing there were executed.

Station 6[edit]

Main article: Station 6

An underground railroad base located at the end of the canals, just outside City 17. It housed the Airboat that Gordon Freeman used to travel to Black Mesa East. The station is shelled soon after Gordon's arrival, with all of the rebels stationed there having been killed or turned into Zombies.

Station 7[edit]

Main article: Station 7

A Resistance Underground Railroad station located at the end of the Wasteland part of the Canals leading out of City 17. Located on a bank of the Canals, Station 7 was used by the Resistance as a refugee aid station before the destruction of City 17.

APC garage[edit]

Main article: APC garage

A Combine garage located in the Wasteland section of the Canals, used for the maintenance of Armored Personnel Carriers. It is visited by Gordon Freeman during his journey to Black Mesa East.

Gate 5[edit]

Main article: Gate 5

A Combine outpost located in the Canals. It is visited by Gordon Freeman during his journey to Black Mesa East.


The Boathouse[11] is a minor outpost located before the springboard puzzle. It features a Health Charger, a Suit Charger, two Supply Crates, and an Airboat lift.

Gun Cave[edit]

The Gun Cave[12] is a Resistance outpost located inside of a tunnel. Before approaching the Gun Cave, a counterweight puzzle needs to be solved to allow passage.

The camp is outfitted with a dock, a pair of raising gates, a generator, and radio equipment. It also includes a map of the canals route. It serves as a camp to two human Resistance fighters and a Vortigaunt. It is here that Gordon Freeman is given the Gauss Cannon for his Airboat and informed about Eli Vance's hideout at the old hydro plant.

The Gun Cave marks the first appearance of Resistance members wearing their armored rebel outfits, as opposed to refugees who are clothed in worn-out citizen outfits.

Port 5[edit]

From the Cyrillic Порт 5, it contains a helicopter landing area for a Hunter-Chopper, a water tower, and a Northern Petrol building. The port is protected with a gate that can be opened after the fight with the helicopter. The area also contains the entrance to the Singing Vortigaunt.

When Gordon arrives near the dam, the Hunter-Chopper takes off and starts attacking Gordon. After a prolonged fight, Gordon destroys the chopper and lifts the gate. While closing in on the building itself, Civil Protection officers come out of the building and attack Gordon. Once inside, it is clear that the building is now under Combine control, with various ammunition and supplies scattered around the place.

After getting out of the building and catching a glimpse of the G-Man, Gordon then proceeds to the dam's gate override controls and switches the lever. This lifts the sluice, allowing Gordon to proceed to Black Mesa East.

Black Mesa East[edit]

Main article: Black Mesa East

A Resistance base located at the Wasteland end of the Canals outside of City 17, opposite a dam, its generating station, and its reservoir, and right next to the abandoned mining town of Ravenholm. Black Mesa East is where Doctor Eli Vance, Doctor Judith Mossman, Alyx Vance, and many other Resistance members, including several Vortigaunts, used to live before its destruction.


Half-Life 2[edit]

With the arrival of Gordon Freeman, Civil Protection was fully aware of the presence of Resistance refugee stations, and were conducting raids on them. Eventually, all the bases 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.

Related Achievements[edit]

Half-Life 2
Hl2 get airboat.png Anchor's Aweigh! (5G)
Get the Airboat.
Hl2 get airboatgun.png Heavy Weapons (5G)
Get the Airboat's mounted gun.
Hl2 kill chopper.png Revenge! (10G)
Destroy the Hunter-Chopper.
Hl2 find vortigauntcave.png Vorticough (13G)
Discover the hidden singing Vortigaunt cave in chapter Water Hazard.
Half-Life 2 (cut)
Hl2 float withairboat.png Catching Air
Float five seconds in the air with the Airboat.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Among the biggest challenges, the developers had to overcome during the creation process of the Canals were giving the player a feeling of having traveled out and away from the city and into the wilderness, setting up a clear goal and a gratifying end to reach, and making sure that the players don't get Airboat-induced motion sickness.[13]

The Canals were to be much longer and allow the player a deeper view of the Wasteland sections.[5] Moreover, in the original design, there were to be a lot of enemies that the player would drive under and navigate around. This style of gameplay turned out to be difficult to consistently convey, and it proved not to sit well with people who were focused on fully experiencing the game, as leaving enemies behind them made them feel like they were missing something. After a lot of changes, the Canals were eventually made more linear and direct in terms of combat and navigation.[13]

The Canals were originally to feature the Bullsquid, cut from the final release. In the WC map pack, it can be found in canals_01, canals_02, canal_current, canals_industrial, outside_city, etc. and their variants, and d1_canals_02, swimming underwater and attacking Headcrabs. The Houndeye was also to be found, before being cut as well. It can be found in maps such as canals_01 or canals_industrial and their variants.[5][14]

In the Canals, a total of 13 skulls have been intentionally hidden. In the "Additional investigations" part of the Half-Life 2 Prima Guide coverage of the chapter Water Hazard, the player is encouraged to find them all. The tip is described thus: "Be vigilant! Rumor has it that someone, or something, has been placing human skulls in a variety of out-of-the-way locations throughout the canals. There's at least five to locate. Can you spot them all?".[9][15]


Half-Life 2[edit]



List of appearances[edit]

Main games[edit]


See also[edit]


Combine OverWiki has more images related to Canals.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
City 17
Half-Life 2 story arc journey Succeeded by
The Wasteland