Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Indiana Canals (Wabash & Erie, Whitewater)

I have some specific posts about the Wabash & Erie Canal in my two blogs (see the "canalWE" label), but I don't have an overview. And I need an overview of the Whitewater Canal. This map is an excellent motivation for the overviews.

Canal Society of Indiana posted and Indiana Historical Bureau
Indiana had plans for at least 5 canals during the 19th Century
The Ohio Falls Canal - some dirt moved but lost out to Kentucky
The Wabash & Erie Canal - Completed Toledo, OH to Evansville
The Central Canal - partially completed in the Indianapolis area
The Whitewater Canal - Haggerstown to Lawrenceburg, IN
The Erie & Michigan Canal - some works near Rome City
See CSI website at Indcanal.org for details and tour guides
Charles Ervin shared

Eight grade curriculum guide

The locks were 90'x15' and the channel depth was 4'


Wabash & Erie Canal

On March 2, 1827, Congress provided a land grant to encourage Indiana to build the Wabash & Erie Canal. The original plan was to link the navigable water of the Maumee with the Wabash through the seven mile portage at Fort Wayne. Work began five years later on February 22, 1832, in Fort Wayne. Construction proceeded west as the canal reached Huntington by 1835, Logansport in 1838, and Lafayette in 1841. Work was also performed east toward Ohio, but the canal did not open to Toledo until 1843. A second federal land grant enabled the canal to reach Terre Haute by 1849. At Evansville, 20 miles of the Central Canal had been completed north by 1839. The Wabash & Erie Canal was extended south in the late 1840’s through the abandoned Cross-Cut Canal works to Worthington and then south following the old proposed Central Canal route. The connection with the Evansville segment was completed in 1853, forming the longest canal in the United States. By 1860, portions south of Terre Haute were closed and the process of decline continued northward. In 1876, the canal was auctioned off by the trustees; only 140 miles of the canal are still in use today....The canal was 40 feet wide at the berm, 26 feet wide at the bottom, and 4 feet deep. The berm was 6’ wide. The towpath was 10’ wide and was used to pull the boats with mules and horses at a speed of 3-5 mph. Mules were usually used, as they were stronger animals. The ropes used to pull the boats by the mules were 3” in diameter and 100’-150’ long. [Monteaum]
Canal Society of Indiana posted:
This chart shows locks needed for Wabash Erie Canal to reach from Lake Erie to the Maumee River and the summit in Ft. Wayne. The Wabash & Erie Canal was begun in 1832, constructing west from Ft. Wayne toward Huntington.  In 1837 construction then began from Fort Wayne to the Ohio State Line and was completed by 1840.  Ohio didn’t complete her portion of the canal from Toledo westward until 1843.  The chart below shows that there were 29 locks and 108 miles of canal construction to reach the Ft. Wayne summit.  The Maumee was a meandering river through the Black Swamp and was never really a commercial waterway.  The dammed St. Joseph River, 6 miles above Fort Wayne, was the water source to feed the W&E Canal at the summit level.
MILES LOCKS                SEGMENT                           FT LIFT
30         9          Manhattan, OH - Grand Rapids       68
  1            -          Slackwater in Maumee river -
 26            4     Grand Rapids - Independence Dam 32
  4            -      Slackwater in Maumee river -
  9            7         Defiance - Junction OH                     57
18            6     Junction  - Indiana State Line *         28
20            3         State Line - Fort Wayne IN *            21
 --------  --------                                                   --------
108     29      Ft. Wayne - Manhattan, OH               206
  * Portions of Black Swamp 
137 miles - Maumee River  = 179 feet total elevation
Canal Society of Indiana posted
A summit canal is one that has a high level where the canal water flows in two opposite directions. As water only flows downhill due to gravity, a water source must be introduced at the summit level. Sometimes it is necessary to build a reservoir to retain sufficient water but when no water source is available that technique cannot be used. The Wabash & Erie has two summits. The first is the Ft. Wayne Summit. Another summit is located between Terre Haute and Worthington, Indiana on the “Cross-Cut” portion of the Wabash & Erie and is 78 feet high. Both water from this second summit coming into Terre Haute from the south and water from the north flow, into what is called the Nadir Level or lowest level.
New members joining our Canal Society receive the full profile map of the Wabash & Erie as partially shown above. See Indcanal.org website
Canal Society of Indiana – Wabash & Erie Canal Profile Map
S Water from Eel River - Terre Haute --- N Water from Parke County

Whitewater Canal

"As settlers moved into the old Northwest Territory after 1800, transportation routes became an important priority. Indiana’s brief experience with canal building began with the passage of the Indiana Mammoth Internal Improvement Act of 1836. Whitewater Canal was one of several projects funded by this act. The Whitewater Canal started in Lawrenceburg and originally ended at Cambridge City, on the Old National Road. Hagerstown merchants financed an extension to their town, making the canal 76 miles in length. The state of Ohio also built a 25-mile spur linking Cincinnati to the canal. Along the canal, 56 locks accommodate a fall of nearly 500 feet." [IndianaMuseum]  It reached Brookville, IN, in June 1839. [IndianaHistoricalBureau] It was at Connersville in June 1845 and by Oct a boat had reached Cambridge City. [Video] The map below shows that it reached Hagerstown in 1847.

Because a lot of water-powered industry had developed along the canal such as the mill that still exists in Metamora, the canal was maintained until the 1950s to supply water for industries in Brookville, IN.

Canal Society of Indiana posted

Canal Society of Indiana posted
The second type of aqueduct was the enclosed or covered bridge type. The construction is the same as the open trunk. Then the structure is enclosed with a wooden frame above to protect the timber frame that is exposed to weathering in the open trunk style. There is a total of 20 aqueducts on the Wabash & Erie Canal in Indiana, but only 5 were roofed and enclosed. The longest, 510 feet long, was across the White River near Petersburg. It was roofed. On the Whitewater Canal there were 2 aqueducts. One crossed the Whitewater River just south of Laurel, and the next was at Duck Creek as shown in the photo below [above].
Kirk Patrick Shorter: There is a 3rd on the canal.... very small & easily missed. It is at the area of Goose Creek.

A 171 page history, but the maps stop at Brookville.

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