Monday, August 25, 2014

A Trip on a Canal Boat

As we were driving back from Fostoria on Saturday, my friend noticed that many of the rivers along the way looked like they may have been canals at one point.  I knew that there were a few canals that went through Ohio, so I decided to do a little bit of research on the internet to find out where they may have been.  There was the one I knew of that went from Cleveland to the Ohio River which was called the Erie and Ohio Canal.  I seem to remember there being a canal that went from Toledo down to the Ohio River, but I don't remember what it was called.
 After a little bit of digging, I found out that it was called the Miami and Erie Canal.  It actually started as the Wabash and Erie Canal in 1843.  It 1845, the Miami extension was completed and it was renamed the Miami and Erie Canal.  And it stretched all the way from Toledo down to Cincinnati.  After a little more digging, I discovered that there was a canal boat that I could ride on.  Thinking that was pretty cool, I decided to head down to the Providence Metropark to partake in this activity.
 The park is probably about 30 miles to the Southwest of Toledo on US-24.  So it wasn't too far of a drive from my apartment.  Part of the park is on the canal itself and it stretches over to the Maumee River.
 The tickets themselves were fairly reasonable.  It was six dollars for about an hour long ride.
 A shot of the Maumee River.
 Some of the flowers nearby but I'm not sure what kind they are.
 The boat itself is powered by a mule team that would walk alongside the canal on a tow path. 
Early boats were 61 feet by 7 feet wide and could carry about 30 tons of cargo.  As time went on, the boats would get larger and could carry more cargo.  I think this type of boat was known as a packet boat because it could carry either passengers or cargo.
 Typically the crew would not be women but ours was.   But I think you would typically have someone at the rudder and a couple of people manning poles to provide propulsion in some places.
 They were pulled by mules or horse typically.  The mule handler was known as a hoggee.  James Garfield worked as a hoggee but he became ill and went to school instead.   Eventually, he'd become President.
 The most famous of the canals was the Erie Canal.  It ran from Buffalo, New York to the Hudson River near Albany.  This gave a way to get goods from the Great Lakes to the Oceans.  It opened in 1825.
 Just a shot of the mule.
 And a shot of the boat itself.
 The ride itself gave a pretty good idea of what it would be like to ride on a canal back in the day.
 Because Ohio is not flat as it seems, there was a series of locks that lined the way from Toledo to Cincinnati.  They behave much like the Soo Locks do today but they were manually controlled.
 A shot of the gates.  I think this is a restored lock.
 The location of this particular lock.
 The Ludwig Mill was a part of Providence, Ohio.  Providence itself no longer exists because it fell prey to a cholera outbreak (they would drink from the canal). 
 I believe this is restored as well.
 The miller.
 This was our tour guide.  She gave a pretty good talk about life on the canal.
 The demise of the canal system would come in the late 1850's as the railroads started to line the United States.  The canal boats could not compete with the speed or efficiency of the trains.  This particular part of the canal was used for a power station until 1929.  Afterwards, it was turned over to the Metropark System.
 Another angle of the Ludwig Mill.
 The locks from the other side.
 As I said, it was a manual affair to work the locks.  The valves would have to be opened to either let water enter (if you were going up) or leave (if you were going down).  After the lock finished, the gates would be opened by hand.
 A shot of one of the crew working the gate.
 A shot of the front of the boat.
 The mule team pulling the boat along.
 The rudder person working the rudder.
 The mule team turning around to bring us into the dock.
 Apparently the mules have the right of way.
One more shot of the canal boat.

1 comment:

Rick VanLandingham III said...

Great photos! I have a collection of digital imagery including pics of this lock many years ago, which I would be happy to share if you'd like to add them.