Piqua Canal Rebuildification LbNA # 33792 (ARCHIVED)
|Placed Date||Aug 2 2007|
Canal + Rebuild + Preservation/Beautification = Canal Rebuildification
Once long ago, hand-dug canals crossed the state of Ohio. These waterways fed the development of the state by making it easer and cheaper for settlers and commerce to move in to the then wilder lands of Ohio. The Miami-Erie Canal stretched 249 miles from Cincinnati to Toledo, running directly though downtown Piqua. Its construction began in 1825 and was completed in 1845. Structures on the canal included 19 aqueducts, three guard locks, 103 lift locks, three major reservoirs, and “Deep Cut” that was 6,600 feet long and 52-feet deep. Most of the labor was done by Irish, French and German immigrants, who worked for 31 cents a day and a jigger of Whisky.
Unfortunately much of canal has been destroyed or left to decay, since the advent of more modern transportation made the canal obsolete even as it was being completed. Traces of the canal and a few preserved sections can be easily seen if you know where to look.
Just outside of Piqua at the Johnston Farm you can still ride a well preserved mile-long stretch of the Miami-Erie canal on the General Harrison, a replica of an 1840’s mixed cargo canal boat. Recently, the General Harrison seems to have wandered off to one of the lesser remembered and preserved channels of the canal. It is your mission to find this boat and retrieve a stamped image of its likeness.
You will begin in the 400 block of Riverside Drive in Piqua at a path called “River’s Edge”. There is a small parking area on the east side of the road nestled right next to a yellow brick cottage. Park and walk up to the main trail (it runs behind the yellow brick cottage and other houses). Once on the main trail, head North. You are now on the towpath that was used by the mule teams to pull the canal boats.
Aside: If you are really an ambitions walker or you wish to do this by bike, you can start a mile south of the Riverside Drive entrance at Lock Nine Park instead, but you will have to travel north for a mile before you start to pick up the following clues.
Once on the River’s Edge Path:
1. Pass mile markers 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 North.
2. Soon you will see an open field on your left, and woods and the Miami River on your right.
3. Pass mile marker “2.4 North”.
4. On your left you will begin to see the remnants of the canal channel. In the summer its waters are covered by a carpet-like green algae. If rain-levels have been low, you will also see some large rough-hewn stone bocks lying in channel.
5. Pass mile markers 2.5,2.6 and 2.7 North.
6. There is a bench on the right, between markers 2.7 and 2.8. If you wish to take a break, the bench has a lovely view of the Miami River.
7. Pause for a moment at mile marker “2.8 North”. On your left you will see a broken-down wooden bridge lying in the canal. Gaze northward up the canal. Less than a tenth of a mile ahead you will see two crumbling stone-block columns in the water on either side of the canal. They may have once been the sides of a low bridge. Canal boats usually road flat and low enough to pass under such bridges.
8. Walk up to the stone ruins of the bridge. You are now very close to where the General Harrison is hiding. (If you pass mile marker 2.9 you have gone to far.) Once you have inspected the ruins on your left. Turn and look on the Right side of the path. You will see a tree next to the path whose trunk forms a low Y shape. On closer inspection you will see that it is actually three trees which grown together at the base. Look down in the trunk where the three trees meet. Under some rocks and leaves you will find what you seek.
9. After you stamp up, please put the letterbox back in the tree under some leaves and rocks. If you proceed for another mile north along the path you will come the remnants of what looks to be a lock that let out into the Miami River.
So what is canal rebuildification? It is the hope to further preserve sections of the canal like the one you have just been exploring, coupled with the desperate dream that some sections of the canal will be rebuilt in order to beautify Ohio’s towns and bring in tourists. Manifesto and webpage coming soon.