Winter '10

From the President

By David G. Barber

My interesting canal visits have continued into the fall. In early October, I attended the Pennsylvania Canal Society’s fall tour along the north part of the Delaware Division Canal. The highlight of the tour was viewing all of the repairs done in the past year or so after three disastrous floods. While the repairs won’t be complete until this coming spring, much was complete and the results were impressive. It was also interesting to hear the park superintendant say that he can now start thinking about further improvements beyond the situation that existed before the floods. In recent years, flood repairs have been the only consideration. Of course, the near future is adversely affected by the current tight fiscal reality facing all levels of government.

The weekend following, I and many of the ACS Directors attended the Canal Society of Indiana’s tour of the central Miami and Erie Canal between Piqua and Spencerville, Ohio. Before the tour, I was able to get a short ride on the replica canal boat General Harrison of Piqua as well as see Lock 8 south from the boat and Locks 1 through 5 south at Lockington. The removal of vegetation and improvement in landscape maintenance as compared to my prior visit in 1997 was very obvious. It was also gratifying to hear that Lock 1 south will be rebuilt in 2010 to be followed by Lock 5 south. Both of these locks have been in danger of collapsing for many years.

On the tour itself, we saw Lock 1 north in New Bremen, which has recently been rebuilt by the village and the framing for the replica lock house which will replace the original that was burned down in the 1960’s as a fire department training exercise. We also visited Lock 13 north in St. Marys, Lock 14 north outside of town, and Six Mile Creek Aqueduct. The later two structures have recently been rehabilitated as water control structures. Lock 13 north had been under a manufacturing building that has now been removed. Rebuilding of the lock was nearly complete. It was also encouraging to hear talk that Lock 12 north, which is covered by part of a parking lot, might now be dug out. If Lock 12 and the canal through the parking area plus a bridge at South Chestnut Street were reestablished there would be three rehabilitated locks in a row with plenty of water and 5-1/2 miles of canal from the St. Marys Aqueduct to Lock 14. Hmmmmm!

We also visited some other interesting sites such as the stone Lock 8 north. Stone locks were rare in this part of Ohio due to the scarcity of stone. Timber locks were more common. Some of the timber locks were replaced by concrete ones in the very early 1900s.

Also of interest on this tour was the opening of the towpath to hiking, signage at each lock site, and the direction and encouragement that the Miami and Erie Canal Corridor Association is providing. On the tour, we observed a Saturday volunteer force pulling junk out of the canal in downtown Spencerville. On Sunday, if I had the time and my hiking gear with me, I could have joined the annual Walk With Nature along various parts of the canal. This event included shuttle buses on frequent schedules so people could walk parts of the canal and get back to their cars. The scope and variety of initiatives that MECCA and its partners are involved with is most impressive.

There was much that time did not permit me to see in the area of this tour. I need to return for a more extensive visit.

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