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Ohio's Grand Canal

A Brief History of the Ohio & Erie Canal

Terry K. Woods

Publication Year: 2008

A one-volume history of the Ohio & Erie Canal

“There have been a number of books written about Ohio’s nineteenth-century canal system, especially about the Ohio & Erie Canal, but Ohio’s Grand Canal is by far the most meticulously researched account I have ever read.”—Jack Gieck, author of A Photo Album of Ohio’s Canal Era, 1825–1913

By linking Ohio’s two major bodies of water—the Ohio River and Lake Erie—Ohio’s canals, built in the early nineteenth century, caused unprecedented growth and wealth for the fledgling state. The canals opened up Ohio to new markets, new settlers, agriculture, and industry, depositing large sums of money into the region and giving Ohioans a surge of confidence and optimism.

Despite these impressive results, the canals struggled when other modes of transportation, such as the National Road and river steamboats, became serious competitors. The rise in popularity of railroads in the 1850s sparked the beginning of the end for the canals. Over the next decades, the canals declined steadily due to neglect, culminating with a statewide flood in 1913, which effectively rendered most of the Ohio & Erie useless.

Ohio’s Grand Canal concisely details the entire history of the canal system. Author Terry K. Woods chronicles the events leading up to construction, as well as public opinion of the canal system, the modifications made to traditional boat designs, the leasing of the waterways to private companies, and the canals’ legal abandonment in 1929. He also includes a personal look at the 1913 flood through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old boatman who experienced it firsthand.

Well written and thoroughly researched, this single-volume history of the Ohio & Erie Canal will be important to educators and to a general audience interested in Ohio history and canals.

Published by: The Kent State University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. viii

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1. Planning and Construction

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pp. 1-15

The canals of Ohio, once the mainstay of the state’s transportation system, shunted Ohio products out of the state and necessities for the good life in. In just a little more than twenty-five years, these artificial waterways—and the men...

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2. Early Operation

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pp. 16-30

Loans to build the initial stages of the Ohio & Erie Canal had been obtained relatively easily in New York in 1825. A national economic depression the following year, however, slowed Ohio Canal bond sales. Also, a few absconding canal...

Photo Gallery 1

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pp. 31-41

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3. Administration and Finance

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pp. 42-52

With the passing of the Canal Act of 1825 by the Ohio State Legislature, a Board of Canal Commissioners was created to administer to the construction of Ohio’s canals. This act also authorized the creation of a canal fund, from which money would be disbursed...

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4. Operation of the Lease

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pp. 53-64

The canals of Ohio were ostensibly leased to a company of six Ohioans on June 2, 1861. In actuality, the lease was held by a consortium of more than 20 men. When the Lease Bill first began working its way through the legislature, it became obvious...

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5. The Flood

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pp. 65-78

John I. Miller was appointed chief engineer of Public Works on July 3, 1911. The canals of Ohio were, according to his first report, “in such a state of physical disability as to make it possible for navigation only in a very few instances.” Miller referred...

Photo Gallery 2

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pp. 79-86

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6. Effects of the Canal

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pp. 87-93

Many people believe that Ohio’s canal system made the state what it is today. Due to the relative ease the canals made of transporting goods between the interior of Ohio and eastern markets, business, industry, population, and money flowed...

Appendix: Rebuild Contracts of the Ohio & Erie Canal

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pp. 94-101


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pp. 102-109

Recommended Reading

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pp. 110


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pp. 111-118

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781612775814
E-ISBN-10: 1612775810
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873389846

Page Count: 112
Publication Year: 2008