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The Ohio Canal or Ohio and Erie Canal was a canal constructed in the early 1800s, which connected Akronmarker, Summit Countymarker with the Cuyahoga Rivermarker near the Cuyahoga's mouth on Lake Eriemarker in Clevelandmarker, Cuyahoga Countymarker, and a few years later, with the Ohio River near Portsmouthmarker, Scioto Countymarker, and then connections to other canal systems in Pennsylvania and Ohiomarker.

The canal carried freight traffic from 1827 to 1861, and then freight traffic rapidly diminished due to the construction of railroads. From 1862 to 1913, the canal served as a water source to industries and towns. In 1913, much of the canal system was abandoned after critical sections were destroyed by severe flooding.

Today, most of the remaining portions are managed by either the National Park Service or Ohio Department of Natural Resources, providing recreational opportunities for the public, and continuing to provide water for some industries. Parts of the canal are preserved, including the Ohio and Erie Canal Historic District, a U.S. National Historic Landmark.


After achieving Statehood in 1803, Ohio was a sparsely populated state of 50,000 persons, scattered and with no economical means of transportation of goods. With no access to markets, agriculture served only local needs and manufacturing was nearly non-existing.

Agitation for a canal system (1787-1822)

As early as 1787, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had discussed the desirability of a canal linking Lake Erie to the Ohio River as part of a national system of canals. It wasn't until 1807 that Ohio's first Senator, Thomas Worthington offered a resolution in Congress asking Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin to report to the Senate. In 1810, DeWitt Clinton was appointed to head the Erie Canal Commission. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to get national aid for the construction of a canal connecting Lake Erie to the Hudson River, so he enlisted the aid of Ohio (and its congressional delegation). On January 15, 1812 the Ohio General Assembly passed a resolution indicating that the connection of the Great Lakesmarker with the Hudson River was a project of "national concern". President Madison was against the proposal, however, and the War of 1812 ended all discussion.

On December 11, 1816, Governor DeWitt Clinton of New Yorkmarker sent a letter to the Ohio Legislature indicating his state's willingness to construct the Erie Canal without national help, and asking the State of Ohio to join in the endeavor. On January 9, 1817, the Ohio Legislature directed Ohio's Governor, the same Thomas Worthington, to negotiate a deal with Clinton. Due to the cost, however, the Ohio Legislature dallied, and nothing happened for the next 3 years. Finally, in January 1822, in a fit of progressivism, the Ohio Legislature passed acts to fund the canal system and the state's public education obligations.

Survey and design (1822)

On January 31, 1822 the Ohio Legislature passed a resolution to employ an engineer and appoint commissioners to survey and design the canal system as soon as possible. A sum not to exceed $6000 was allocated for this purpose.

James Geddes, an engineer experienced from work on the New York canals, was employed. Since most of Ohio's population lived along a line from Cleveland to Cincinnati, it was necessary that these areas be served by the main trunk of the canal. Since canals must generally follow river valleys, it was difficult to design a suitable system. Specifically, the bridging of the Scioto and Miamimarker river valleys required raising the canal to such an elevation that water from neither river could be used as a source. As a result, the canal was divided into two sections, the Ohio and Erie Canal from Cleveland to Portsmouthmarker which crossed the Licking Divide and followed the Scioto River Valley, and the Miami and Erie Canal which connected Cincinnatimarker to Daytonmarker. In later years this second canal would be extended all the way to the Maumee River at Toledomarker.

Copies of the original survey plat maps for the construction of both Ohio canals are available on-line from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Construction (1825-1832)

On February 4, 1825, the Ohio Legislature passed "An Act to provide for the Internal Improvement of the State of Ohio by Navigable Canals". The Canal Commission was authorized to borrow $400,000 in 1825, and not more than $600,000 per year thereafter. The notes issued were to be redeemable between 1850 and 1875.

On July 4, 1825, ground was broken on the canal at Licking Summit near Newark, Ohiomarker.

The canals were specified to have a minimum width of at the top, at the bottom, and a depth of feet minimum. These limits were often exceeded, and indeed it was cheaper to do so in most cases. For example, it might be cheaper to build one embankment and then let the water fill all the way to the adjacent foothills, perhaps hundreds of feet away, rather than build two embankments. By damming the rivers, long stretches of slackwater could be created which, with the addition of towpaths, could serve as portions of the canal. Where it made economic sense to do so, such as lock widths or portions of the canal through narrow rock or across aqueducts, the minimum widths were adhered to.

Contracts were let for the following tasks:
  • Grubbing and clearing
  • Mucking and ditching
  • Embankment and excavation
  • Locks and culverts
  • Puddling
  • Protection

Initially, contractors in general proved to be inexperienced and unreliable. It was common for one job to receive 50 bids, many of them local to where the work was being performed. The chosen contractor, having underbid the contract, often would vanish in the night leaving his labor force unpaid and his contract unfulfilled. This problem was so bad that laborers refused to perform canal work for fear of not being paid. As the bidding process was improved, and more reliable contractors engaged, the situation improved.

Workers were initially paid $0.30 per day and offered a jigger of whiskey. As work progressed, and where labor was in shortage, workers could make as much as $15 per month. At that time, cash money was hard to come by in Ohio forcing much bartering. Working on the canal was appealing and attracted many farmers from their land.

On July 3, 1827 the first canal boat on the Ohio and Erie Canal left Akronmarker, traveled through 41 locks and over 3 aqueducts along of canal, to arrive at Cleveland on July 4. While the average speed of seems slow, canal boats could carry 10 tons of goods and were much more efficient than wagons over rutted trails.

Graph showing the annual expenditures and revenues accrued to the State of Ohio by the Ohio and Erie Canal from 1827 to 1903.

Over the next five years, more and more portions of the canal opened, with it finally being completed in 1832:

In 1832, the Ohio and Erie Canal was completed. The entire canal system was long with 146 lift locks and a rise of . In addition, there were five feeder canals that added and 6 additional locks to the system consisting of:
  • Tuscarawas Feeder (3.2 miles)
  • Walhonding Feeder (1.3 miles)
  • Granville Feeder (6.1 miles)
  • Muskinghum Side Cut (2.6 miles)
  • Columbus Feeder (11.6 miles)

The canal's lock numbering system was oriented from the Lower Basin, near the southwest corner of the current Exchange and Main streets in Akron. North of the basin is Lock 1 North, and south of the basin is Lock 1 South. At this basin was the joining of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal.

Operation (1833 - 1913)

The canals enjoyed a golden period of prosperity from the 1830s to the early 1860s, with a peak in revenue between 1852 and 1855. During the 1840s, Ohio was the third most prosperous state, owing much of that growth to the canal. Immediately following the Civil War, it became apparent that railroads would take the canal's business. From 1861 until 1879, after the canal had been badly flooded, Ohio leased its canals to private owners who earned revenue from dwindling boat operation and the sale of water to factories and towns. When the state took the canals back in 1879, it discovered that they had not been maintained, and that state lands surrounding the canals had been illegally sold to private owners. In many cases, canals were filled in for "health reasons", only to find a newly laid railroad track on their right of way. Much State land was given away for free to politically savvy private owners. Nevertheless, some revenue was accrued into the early twentieth century from the sale of water rights as well as recovery and sale of land surrounding the canals.


After the peak of the 1850s and a bottoming out of revenue due to the Civil War in the early 1860s the canal's expenditures starting to outgrow its revenues due to rising maintenance costs. By 1911, most of the southern portion of the canal had been abandoned. On March 23, 1913, after a winter of record snowfall, storms dumped an abnormally heavy amount of rain on the state, causing extensive flooding. This caused the reservoirs to spill over into the canals, destroying aqueducts, washing out banks, and devastating most of the locks. In Akron, Lock 1 was dynamited to allow backed up floodwater to flow.

Notable persons associated with the Canal

  • As a teenager in 1847, James Garfield worked as a Hoggee, driving mules to pull barges along the canal. After repeatedly falling into the canal on the job, Garfield became ill, and decided to go to college instead.

The Canal today

Restored canal boat
The Ohio and Erie Canal Historic District, a historic district including part of the canal, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966. It is a four mile (6 km) section within the township of Valley View, Ohiomarker that contains three locks, the Tinkers Creek Aqueductmarker and two structures.

A remaining watered section of the Ohio & Erie Canal is located in Summit County, Ohiomarker. The Ohio & Erie Canal is maintained, to this day, as a water supply for local industries. After the flood, a few sections of the canal continued in use hauling cargo to local industries. Another watered section extends from the Station Road Bridge in Brecksville northwards into Valley View and Independence, all Cleveland suburbs.

The section of the Ohio & Erie Canal from the Brecksville Dam to Rockside Road in Cuyahoga Countymarker was transferred to the National Park Service in 1989 as part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreational Area (now known as the Cuyahoga Valley National Parkmarker.

A lease on the canal lands from the Cuyahoga Valley National Parkmarker to the terminus of the canal has been executed with the Cleveland Metroparks. The Metroparks manage the adjacent real estate and the surrounding Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation.

The section of the Ohio & Erie Canal still owned and maintained by the Division of Water in southern Summit is referred to as the watered section. This section runs from the north end of Summit Lake south to Barbertonmarker, a distance of about . Included in this section is the feeder canal from the Tuscarawas River and the hydraulics at the Portage Lakesmarker.

The Ohio & Erie Canal is maintained from Akron by a staff of six Division of Water employees. Like its sister canal, the Ohio & Erie Canal carries a large amount of stormwater. The canals were not designed to accommodate this great influx of stormwater. Most of the siltation and erosion problems experienced today are the result of stormwater inappropriately piped into the canals over the years.

In late 1996, the canal from Zoarmarker to Cleveland was designated a National Heritage Corridor. This designation was brought about through the efforts of many communities, civic organizations, businesses and individuals working in partnership. The Department is working with numerous local communities and organizations to assure the continued development of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

A map showing the disposition of the canal lands is available on-line from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Points of interest

Towpath through Akron
  • Alexander's (a.k.a. Wilson's) Mill
  • Richard Howe House (future site)
  • Boston Store
  • Canal Visitor Center
  • Frazee House
  • Mustill Store
  • Peninsula Depot
  • Station Road Bridge
  • Tinkers Creek Aqueductmarker

Connecting canals

The Ohio and Erie Canal initially provided a connection between Akronmarker and Lake Eriemarker at Clevelandmarker, then extending all the way to the Ohio River within a few years. Later, connecting canal systems were built connecting it with the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal and other parts of Eastern Ohio.

Ohio and Erie Canal - Connecting Canals




Columbus Feeder Lockbournemarker, Columbusmarker, Franklin Countymarker
Granville Feeder Granvillemarker, Licking Countymarker
Hocking Valley Carrollmarker, Lancastermarker, Fairfield Countymarker;

Loganmarker, Hocking Countymarker;

Nelsonvillemarker, Athensmarker, Athens Countymarker
Muskingum Side Cut Dresdenmarker, Zanesvillemarker, Muskingum Countymarker;

McConnelsvillemarker, Morgan Countymarker;

Mariettamarker, Washington Countymarker
Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal Akronmarker, Summit Countymarker;

Kentmarker, Ravennamarker, Portage Countymarker;

Warrenmarker, Trumbull Countymarker;

Youngstownmarker, Mahoning Countymarker; Ohiomarker;;

Lawrence; Beavermarker, Beaver Countymarker; Allegheny, Pennsylvaniamarker
Sandy and Beaver Canal

a.k.a. Tuscarawas Feeder
Bolivarmarker, Tuscarawas Countymarker;

Hanovertonmarker, Lisbonmarker, East Liverpoolmarker, Columbiana Countymarker;

Glasgowmarker, Beaver Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker
Walhonding Canal Roscoe Villagemarker, Coshocton Countymarker;

Brinkhavenmarker, Knox County

Towpath Trail landmarks

An all-purpose bicycle/pedestrian trail was constructed by Cuyahoga Valley National Parkmarker in Southern Cuyahoga Countymarker and Northern Summit Countymarker, Cleveland Metroparks in Northern Cuyahoga Countymarker, and Akron/Summit County Metroparks in Southern Summit Countymarker to roughly follow the original Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath route. (The Northernmost section in Cuyahoga Countymarker is still undergoing construction.) There are many connecting trails going to other points of interest throughout their park systems.

Please help by expanding this section with any notable landmarks along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

Restored canal Twelve Mile Lock 38, Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Deep Lock 28 as it existed in 1985

Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail Landmarks











0 44 North Cuyahoga Rivermarker Sloop Lock Clevelandmarker Cuyahogamarker Merwin Street between James street and West street
43 North Lock Clevelandmarker Cuyahogamarker Sherwin Williams, James and West, Merrwin and Vineyard
Weigh Lock Clevelandmarker Cuyahogamarker Seneca a.k.a. West 3rd. street
3 42 North Lock Clevelandmarker Cuyahogamarker relocated to 42A,
3 42A North Weigh and Guard Lock Clevelandmarker Cuyahogamarker near Grasselli chemical company, Dille street and Independence road
5 41 North RathBuns Lock Cuyahogamarker near Austin Powder Works, Harvard Road, near Jennings Road
8 40 North Willow Lock Cuyahoga Heightsmarker Cuyahogamarker off Canal Road, near I-77
Mill Creek Aqueduct Cuyahoga Heightsmarker Cuyahogamarker carries canal over Mill Creek off Canal Road
GNIS GNIS 17 Cleveland South topographic map
Bridge Cuyahogamarker Rockside Road
TrailHead Cuyahogamarker CVSRmarker
11 MilePost Marker Cuyahogamarker
11 39 North Lock Independencemarker Cuyahogamarker
GNIS GNIS 16 Shaker Heights topographic map
12 MilePost Marker Cuyahogamarker
Bridge Cuyahogamarker Hillside Road
TrailHead Cuyahogamarker CVSRmarker-Canal Visitor Center, 7104 Canal Road and Hillside Road
12 38 North Lock Valley Viewmarker Cuyahogamarker Canal Visitor Center
Cuyahoga Countymarker Tinkers Creek Road
13 MilePost Marker Cuyahogamarker
Tinkers Creekmarker Aqueduct Cuyahogamarker carries canal over Tinkers Creek marker
Bridge Cuyahogamarker Alexander Road-Pleasant Valley Road
14 37 North Lock Cuyahogamarker Alexander's Mill
Mill Cuyahogamarker Alexanders (a.k.a. Wilsons)
14 MilePost Marker Cuyahogamarker
Trailhead Cuyahogamarker Sagamore Road
15 MilePost Marker Cuyahogamarker
16 MilePost Marker Cuyahogamarker
GNIS GNIS 15 Northfield topographic map
17 36 North Pinery Dam and Feeder Lock Summitmarker
Bridge Summitmarker SR-82
17 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
TrailHead Summitmarker Station Road bridge to CVSRmarker-Brecksville
19 35 North Kettlewell Whiskey Lock Summitmarker
18 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
Trail Summitmarker Old Carriage
Trail Summitmarker Old Carriage Connector
19 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
20 34 North Red Lock Summitmarker Jaite in southwestern Northfield Township
TrailHead Red Lock
Bridge Summitmarker Highland Road
20 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
20.5 33 North Wallace Lock Summitmarker in Boston Township
21 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
21 32 North Boston Lock Summitmarker Boston Township
Summitmarker Boston Mills Road
TrailHead Summitmarker CVSRmarker-Boston Store
Bridge Summitmarker I-271 Southbound
Bridge Summitmarker I-271 Northbound
Bridge Summitmarker I-80 Westbound
Bridge Summitmarker I-80 Eastbound
22 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
Summitmarker Stumpy Basin
22 31 North Lonesome Lock Summitmarker was in Boston Township
23 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
23 30 North Peninsula Feeder Lock Peninsulamarker Summitmarker
Peninsula TrailHead Peninsulamarker Summitmarker CVSRmarker
23 29 North Peninsula Lock Peninsulamarker Summitmarker
Peninsula Aqueduct Peninsulamarker Summitmarker carried canal over Cuyahoga Rivermarker
Bridge Summitmarker SR-303
24 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
25 28 North Deep Lock Peninsulamarker Summitmarker at the deepest lock along the canal
TrailHead Summitmarker Deep Lock Quarry
25 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
26 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
27 27 North Johnny Cake Lock Summitmarker
Furnace Run Aqueduct Summitmarker carried canal over Furnace Run
27 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
Bridge Summitmarker Bolanz Road
28 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
Summitmarker Beaver Marsh
28 26 North Pancake Lock Summitmarker
Ira TrailHead Summitmarker CVSRmarker
29 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
28 25 North Mudcatcher Lock Summitmarker
30 24 North Niles Lock Summitmarker
Bridge Summitmarker Yellow Creek
30 MilePost Marker Summitmarker
Bridge Summitmarker Bath Road
Indian Mound TrailHead Summitmarker CVSRmarker
GNIS GNIS 14 Akron West topographic map
32 23 North Booth port Lock Summitmarker sewer pipe
32 22 North Booth port Lock Summitmarker Merriman sewer pipe
33 21 North Lock Summitmarker sewer over-flow
20 North Lock Summitmarker train abutments
19 North Black Dog Crossing Lock Summitmarker near Hickory and Memorial
35 18 North Lock Summitmarker
36 17 North Lock Summitmarker
36 16 North Lock Summitmarker
36 15 North Akron Mustill Store Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker
36 14 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker North Street
36 13 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker
36 12 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker
36 11 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker
36 10 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker
9 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker north of Market street
8 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker tunnel
37 7 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker middle tunnel
37 6 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker tunnel below parking deck North of Mill street
37 5 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker tunnel
37 4 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker tunnel
37 3 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker South Main street
38 2 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker Water street
38 1 North Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker West Exchange street
0 Portage landing Lock Akronmarker Summitmarker Portage lakes, Manchester Road
1 South Wolf creek Lock Barbertonmarker Summitmarker Snyder avenue
Wolf creek Aqueduct Barbertonmarker Summitmarker Snyder avenue
GNIS GNIS 13 Doylestown topographic map
2 South Lock New Franklinmarker Starkmarker Center Road
3 South Lock New Franklinmarker Starkmarker Center Road
GNIS GNIS 12 Canal Fulton topographic map
4 South Lock Canal Fultonmarker Starkmarker
GNIS GNIS 11 Massillon topographic map
GNIS GNIS 10 Bolivar topographic map
GNIS GNIS 9 Thornville topographic map
GNIS GNIS 8 Millersport topographic map
5 South Lock
5A South Lock
31 South Lock
32 South Lock
33 South Lock
North 20 Lock
North 19 Lock
North 18 Lock
North 1 Lock
North 0 Minthorn Lock Newarkmarker Lickingmarker
South 0 Pugh Lock
South 1 195 King Watson Lock Canal Road
GNIS GNIS 7 Baltimore topographic map
196 South 2 David Miller's White Mill Lock Baltimoremarker Fairfieldmarker
197.4 South 3 Norris Mill Lock Baltimoremarker Fairfieldmarker
South 4 Short Level Lock Baltimoremarker Fairfieldmarker
198 South 5 Dry Dock Lock Baltimoremarker Fairfieldmarker
198.3 South 6 Mulnix Mill Lock Baltimoremarker Fairfieldmarker
198.8 South 7 Wells Mill Lock Basil, Ohio
200 South 8 Bibler Lock Basil, Ohio
208 South 9 Lock Carrollmarker Fairfieldmarker
South 10 Lock Carroll, Ohiomarker Fairfieldmarker
206 South 11 Lock Violet Townshipmarker Fairfield County, Ohiomarker Upper Lockville
South 12 Tennis/Tennat Lock Lockville
South 13 Rowe Lock Lockville
South 14 Smallwood Lock
South 15 Fickle Mill Short Level Lock Lockville
South 16 Rover Short Level Lock Lockville
South 17 Swimmer's Lock Lockville
South 18 Creek Lock Lockvile
208 Walnet Creek Guard Lock
GNIS GNIS 6 Canal Winchester topographic map
210 South 19 Chaney's Mill Lock Canal Winchestermarker
210 South 20 Woolen Lock Canal Winchestermarker Gender Road
South 21 Lock Canal Winchestermarker near Glenarda Farms, Groveport Road
George's Culvert Canal Winchestermarker
South 22 Groveport Lock
GNIS GNIS 5 Lockbourne topographic map
217 South 23 Lock Lockbournemarker Franklinmarker Canal Road
217 South 24 Lock Lockbournemarker Franklinmarker Canal Road
217 South 25 Lock Lockbournemarker Franklinmarker Canal Road
217.5 South 26 Lock Lockbournemarker Franklinmarker
218 South 27 Lock Lockbournemarker Franklinmarker Canal Road
218 South 28 Lock Lockbournemarker Franklinmarker under railroad track bed
South 29 Lock
South 30 Lock Lockbournemarker Franklinmarker Lockmeadows Park
GNIS GNIS 4 Carroll topographic map
GNIS GNIS 3 Amanda topographic map
GNIS GNIS 2 Ashville topographic map
GNIS GNIS 1 New Philadelphia topographic map
Columbus Feeder East Guard Lock
Columbus Feeder West Guard Lock
226 South 31 Ashville Campbells Mill Lock
237 South 32 Aqueduct Lock Scioto River, West of Circleville
237 Circleville Feeder Lock Spunkytown
238 South 33 Lock Wayne Township
238 South 34 Lock Wayne Township
South 35 Lock Chillicothe, Ohiomarker
256 South 36 Lock Chillicothe, Ohiomarker
258 South 37 Lock Chillicothe, Ohiomarker parking lot
South 38 Fifth Street Lock Chillicothe, Ohiomarker
261 South 39 Upper Lunbeck Lock
261 South 40 Lower Lunbeck Lock Scioto Townshipmarker Pickawaymarker near Renick Lane 601
South 41 Tomlinsons Lock 3 Locks Road, South of Chillicothe
South 42 Tomlinsons Lock
South 43 Tomlinsons Lock
Tomlinsons Dam and Feeder Guard Lock
South 44 Waverly Lock
280 South 45 U Pee Pee Lock
280 South 46 L Pee Pee Lock
291 South 47 Howards Lock near Robers Lock Farm
South 48 Herod's Lock
South 49 Rushs Brush Creek Lock
South 50 Union Mills Lock
South 51 Union Mills Moss Lock near Ohio State Route 239
South 52 Union Mills Lock
305 South 53 Elbow Lock
South 54 Lock Portsmouthmarker Scioto Countymarker
308 South 55 Lock Scioto Countymarker near Old River Road, Portsmouth/Alexandria

Travels through Cuyahogamarker, Summitmarker, Starkmarker, Lickingmarker, Franklinmarker, Fairfieldmarker, Pickawaymarker, and Sciotomarker counties.

See also



General References


External links

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