: This photograph shows an abandoned canal lock and an overgrown canal bed near Grand Rapids, Ohio. A railroad trestle spans the canal bed. The unidentified lock may be Lock No. 44, now located within the boundaries of Providence Metro Park (across the Maumee River from Grand Rapids). Lock No. 44 was part of the Miami, Wabash and Erie Canal system. The Miami and Erie Canal, which connected Toledo to Cincinnati, joined the Wabash and Erie Canal, which linked Toledo to Evansville, Indiana. The conjoined canals diverged at Junction, Ohio.
The Miami and Erie Canal was one of Ohio's most important canals during the mid-nineteenth century. During the late 1810s, Governor Thomas Worthington and Governor Ethan Allen Brown both supported the development of canals. Both men believed that Ohioans needed quick and easy access to the Ohio River and to Lake Erie if they were to profit financially. Farmers and business owners would be able to transport their products much more easily and cheaply with canals rather than turnpikes. Canals would also possibly open up new markets for Ohio goods.
In 1822 the Ohio legislature created a new Ohio Canal Commission, which eventually recommended two routes: a western route along the Miami and Maumee Valleys (Miami and Erie Canal) and an eastern route that started at Lake Erie, passing through the Cuyahoga Valley, the Muskingum Valley, the Licking Valley, and then to the Ohio River along the Scioto Valley (Ohio and Erie Canal). In 1825 the Ohio legislature approved both routes, and work began immediately on the Miami and Erie Canal. The 250-mile-long canal was completed in 1845.
On February 22, 1832, construction of the Wabash and Erie Canal started in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Once completed, it would connect Toledo, Ohio, and Evansville, Indiana. The Wabash and Erie Canal intersected with the Miami and Erie Canal at the town of Junction, Ohio. From Junction the canals proceeded as one to Defiance, Toledo, and Lake Erie.
Most canals remained in operation in Ohio until the late 1800s. By the 1850s canals were losing business to the railroads, which offered several advantages. Railroads delivered passengers and goods more quickly, and they were not limited by a water source as canals were. Because of these advantages, railroads quickly supplanted the canals.
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: AL06114 Subjects
: Wabash and Erie Canal (Ind. and Ohio); Miami and Erie Canal (Ohio); Canals--Ohio--History--19th century; Grand Rapids (Ohio); Wood County (Ohio); Transportation--Ohio--History; Places
: Grand Rapids (Ohio); Wood County (Ohio)