A letter from the PresidentBy David G. Barber
Part of the appeal of canals is the discovery of new waterways, either in use or historic, or unknown structures on already known waterways. The later is particularly true of structures that "everyone" knew were destroyed, but in fact still exist. Canal veterans all have their stories.
In recent months, through the internet and magazine articles, I have discovered two in use navigations that were not listed in ACS reports. They are now included in our index sheet listings. One is on the Fox River in Illinois. As outlined on the index page, the state of Illinois maintains a lock on the Fox River (a tributary of the Illinois) at McHenry, Illinois. Apparently, this is the second lock at this site built in 1934 to replace one built in 1907. This provides navigation from Algonquin Dam north to and beyond the Wisconsin border. Currently, what I know about this lock is what I get from the internet. But, it appears to be in active use for recreation.
Switching north to Wisconsin, a recent article in Boat US Magazine focused my attention on the state capital of Madison. Madison lies between Lakes Mendota & Monona. These are connected by a piece of the Yahara River which includes Tenney Lock which appears to be in active use. Downstream and to the southeast are Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa. The connection between Lake Monona and Lake Waubesa appears to have no significant drop. The connection between Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa includes Babcock Lock and the outlet of Lake Kegonsa includes LaFollette Lock. All three of these locks are visible on USGS aerial photos. I have not been able to learn the operational status of Babcock and LaFollette Locks.
In October, the ACS directors journeyed to Heath, Ohio for our annual meeting and the fall field trip of the Canal Society of Ohio. There I learned that the Ohio & Erie Canal had two additional, unnumbered lift locks that were created when the level of Buckeye Lake (the Licking Summit reservoir) was raised to increase its capacity. These two locks have now been removed by the state. But what was very interesting is that the canal is still watered north from Buckeye Lake to Lake Run to supply the Hebron Fish Hatchery and is still watered and navigated to the south of the lake into the village of Millersport.. Buckeye Lake is an active state park. Apparently, watered, but interrupted by silt dams and privately owned, intact canal extends south from Millersport through the Deep Cut to the site of Pugh Lock. Towpath canal in current use for privately owned pleasure boating is very rare. If you want to see public boating on a towpath canal, Millersport is just off of I-70. You can even rent canoes there.
Another unknown is the Trimcane Canal in Mississippi. William Price recently sent in an index sheet of this canal which he reports as part of a series of canals in Mississippi that were the end game of a group of canal builders that worked their way west through the south from Georgia. Apparently, these builders then transitioned to other work (railroads ?). Looking at maps of the area shows the Trimcane Canal as Trim Cane Creek. But, its rather straight as compared to other creeks in the area. That is unless you look at the connected Self Creek, which is also very lengthy and a series of straights. Reading between the lines there appears to be several interesting, untold stories here. I hope that Mr. Price will research and share them with us.
The main point of this discussion is that there are still many historic canals and navigations out there that have not been documented. Some of these are even in public use. We need to continue to look around, investigate, and document our canal heritage. I look forward to learning of your findings.
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