wabash Erie Canal with border


The Wabash and Erie Canal was a shipping canal that linked the Great Lakes to the Ohio River via a man-made waterway providing traders with access from the Great Lakes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Completed in the mid-1800’s most historians agree the period between 1847 and 1852 was the heyday of the canal. In Indiana, the 40-foot wide canal was built mostly by Irish immigrants using shovels, picks, wheelbarrows, and the horse-drawn slip-scoop. By 1837, there were 1,000 laborers employed on the state’s canal system. Accidents, fever, cholera, fights, and snakebite exacted a heavy toll on the workforce. It has been reported that the toll in lives from the building of the Canal was one person for every six feet of completed Canal in the forty-mile stretch between the Indiana / Ohio state line and Junction, Ohio. This figure, however, has been vigorously contested by some canal historians. Several types of boats traveled on the canal but the two used for business were the packet and the line boat. The packet was primarily used for transportation of passengers while the line boats hauled freight. From 1853 until its demise, canal receipts steadily declined. The canal could only remain navigable for eight months a year. One of the great ironies of history is that the slow-paced, mule-driven canal boats transported the rails from foundries for building the railroads which ultimately put the canal out of business by the 1870’s. Though most of the canal has long since deteriorated, parts of the towpath and some small segments of the canal itself are still visible along the south side of the gravel road which runs along side of the canal.
Directions:  West of Francisco at the intersection of County Roads 175 South and 550 East.  From I-64 take US Hwy 41 North to IN SR 64 East through Princeton to County Road 550 East, then south to the intersection of County Road 175 South.