Erie Canal/ NPS Collection

Erie Canal/ NPS Collection

The Ohio and Erie Canal

Shaka Guide

Welcome to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. So, how about we learn a little something about that canal on our right? Can you see it through the trees? That's the Ohio and Erie Canal. Or what's left of it anyway?

Historical Background

When the canal was completed in 1832, it connected Lake Erie to the Ohio River. A journey of 308 miles, or nearly 500 kilometers. At the time of its construction, canals were the latest in transportation technology.

You see, back in the early 19th century, traveling south by horse-drawn carriage across the entire state of Ohio could take several weeks. But a canal boat could make that journey in just four days. A boat could also carry a lot more cargo.

That meant farmers could transport more goods, and faster, than ever before. Before canals, Ohio was more or less a frontier state. That meant people lived and traded locally, and things moved pretty slowly.

But after the canals, everything changed. Businesses and populations boomed. New towns sprang up along the canals, along with new inns, taverns, and general stores.

Canal Exploration Center

In fact, it's kind of hard to overstate how important the canals were to Ohio's development. If you want to learn more, our next stop is the Canal Exploration Center. It's open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, but only from June through October.

I hope you're here at the right time because this place is a real park highlight. It's housed in an old canal-side tavern, and it has interactive exhibits that are fun for all ages. I'll let you know where to turn ahead.

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