Operating The Canal
Front The Longest Canal in North America
Carroll County Wabash & Erie CanalDelphi, Indiana
The Wabash & Erie Canal extended 468 miles
from Toledo, Ohio to Evansville, Indiana
On March 2, 1827, a Congressional land grant made possible a continuous waterway connecting the Eastern Seaboard through Lake Erie to the Gulf of Mexico. The grant provided for the construction of a 168 mile long canal from the mouth of Ohio's Auglaize River on the Maumee River across a land portage over the watershed divide at Fort Wayne, Indiana, to the mouth of the Tippecanoe on the Wabash River.
Construction of the Wabash & Erie Canal began in Fort Wayne on July 4, 1832 and was finished through Carroll County, to Delphi by 1840. Built by the hand of laborers and the brute strength of their animals, a waterway was slowly cleared through the Wabash Valley wilderness.
With the addition of two land grants, the project extended 468 miles and by 1853 canal boats began navigating between Lake Erie at Toledo, Ohio and Evansville, Indiana on the Ohio River. Credited for helping develop Indiana and points west, the Wabash & Erie was ordered closed by court order in 1874 and sold in 1876.
Obverse SideHow Canal Boats Traveled across the LandscapeWelcome to Lock No.32
Canal boats moved on narrow stretches of level water contained within banks called a towpath and a berm bank. The towpath was located between the river and the canal. At either end of level stretches of water, a structure called a lock was installed to raise or lower boats to higher or lower changes in the land elevation.
With a chamber measuring 90 feet long and 15 feet wide, the space Lock No.32 once occupied can be seen here in the present side ditch. A lockkeeper was stationed at the Meutzer Tavern that once stood on the east of the road.
Two sets of large wooden gates with wickets were operated by hand that allowed water to enter into or to discharge from the lock. It took several minutes for a boat to make the 9 foot change in elevation and pass through the lock. Often a long line of canal boats waited to make passage from the level of the lake or the Canal as they made their way to and from Paragon.