The Tumble March 2023

Remember to “Spring” your clocks forward 1 hour on March 12!!!!

Canawling in August 2022

Text by Preston Richardt, Photos by Preston Richardt & Dave Kurvach

After the CSI tour in August at Logansport, board members Preston Richardt and Dave Kurvach began the drive back to southwest Indiana but not before stopping at some points of interest along the way that deal with the Wabash & Erie Canal.

We began planning our trip in early summer of 2022 and how we would utilize the most of our time in the northern part of the state, since we rarely get the opportunity to visit the area. Dave and I decided following the CSI tour and meeting on August 27 we would visit different canal and non-canal related points of interest in the area; after which, we would stay the night at a campground near Logansport. After staying the night, we would then travel the backroads of Miami, Cass and Carroll Counties before hopping on I65 toward Indianapolis. Little did we know what was in store for us.

Stone remnants of the Eel River aqueduct, Logansport, IN

On the day of the tour and meeting, we arrived in Logansport about an hour before the start of the event and we were able to mingle with other CSI members to learn more about the community. This was a great experience for both of us. We participated in the tour, excellently put together by Tom Castaldi, after which we enjoyed a meal and a tour of the Cass County Museum. While the CSI tour took members to the Carousel in Logansport we opted to get checked into our campground where we were staying and catch up with the group down the road.

Culvert 79: Tall Sycamore Campground

We arrived at our campground, Tall Sycamore Campground, situated along the northern bank of the Wabash River. As we were driving to our campsite we were discussing the canal’s route through the area and began to notice hints of visible prism within the campground we were staying at. We discussed what we were seeing with the hostess and found out she was very interested and wanted to show us another feature within the park. She took us back the one trail in the park to an area where the train tracks were situated approximately 30 – 40 feet above the river and the towpath became very visible at this point with a huge cut taken out of it. This was the former location of Culvert (#79), a timber culvert that measured 10 feet wide by 18 inches tall. It was removed to allow the water to flow more quickly into the river.

We left the area and said we would look at the entire trail more closely on Sunday as we needed to catch up with the tour again.

Prairie Creek Culvert #73

After leaving the campground we proceeded to the location of the Prairie Creek Culvert (#73) and were greatly impressed with it. The tour group spent several minutes at this location while many pictures were taken. I was taken in with the construction of the structure as I had not seen a stone culvert prior to this. After leaving the culvert, we ended the tour in Miami County at the site of the dam and feeder on the Wabash river. Even though no remnants remain one can easily imagine the dam crossing the river at this location.

Seven Pillars State Nature Preserve, Peru IN

As the tour drew to a close, Dave and I visited a non-canal related spot, or so I thought at the time, near Peru. We followed the signs up the Mississinewa River to the Seven Pillars Nature Preserve. I felt awe inspired by the location and its natural geological formations. If you have not been there I suggest taking a few minutes when in Peru to go visit this location and you will understand why the Miami Nation considered this a sacred location.

As you saw I stated that I did not think at the time that this natural feature was canal related but it was several months later that I learned this was the main proposed route for the Central Canal to follow as it would meet with the Wabash & Erie near Peru.

Lock #14 (Kerr Lock), Lagro IN

After leaving the Seven Pillars site we drove further east to Lagro, IN and the site of the dam, feeder and the Kerr Lock (#14) where by happenstance we ran into Bob & Carolyn Schmidt and Tom Castaldi as they were making their way home to Ft. Wayne. We took many pictures and much information was exchanged about the canal in this area. After our visit to Lagro, Dave and I made our way back to Tall Sycamore Campground to setup camp and call it an evening along the banks of the Wabash, and yes Indiana’s state song came to mind while there and as I write this, “Along the Banks of the Wabash”. We discussed everything we had seen so far and what we hoped to see on Sunday before travelling south toward home.

Wabash River, Tall Sycamore Campground

Sunday August 28, we awoke and as promised we explored the area around campground, I was hoping to find the location of the Guard Gate that was in the area but that was not to be, it is located east of the park by just a little bit. The park is host to a large section of visible prism.

Culvert 100 (Burnett’s Creek Arch Culvert), Lockport IN

After leaving the park we retraced our tour from the previous day but instead of crossing the Wabash River and touring the State Hospital grounds, we continued to follow the canal through the fields of Cass County. and the north side of Georgetown eventually entering Carroll County via Towpath Rd.

Lock #28, Lockport IN

As we drove along Towpath Rd. we studied the fields and small inclines for any indications of the canal or its prism with the occasional stop at suspected and known canal structures. The first existing structure we came to was Burnett’s Creek Arch Culvert (#100). A stone arch culvert still intact and functioning just as it did when it was built almost 190 yrs ago. Yes the south side of the culvert has been made more structurally sound by the addition of concrete. The stones are still there and performing there desired function. Adjacent to this structure is Lock (#28). Remnants of one lock wall are still visible and help support the county road. Lock (#28) was a composite lock, meaning the structural elements were made of rough stone and finished with an overlay of wood. This was a cheaper design compared to an all-stone lock but would last longer than a lock made completely of timber.

We took pictures of these structures and talked to a couple that were out wondering the countryside on a Sunday motorcycle ride and stopped to see the culvert. We provided them with some history and information to better understand what they were seeing plus how to find more information about the canal through the website.

Tumble (Berm Side) of Lock #29, Lockport IN

After leaving the Burnetts Creek Culvert and Lock (#28) we came into the hamlet of Lockport. The name is derived from the fact that Lock (#28) sits just east of town and Lock (#29) was in town. For us the location of Lock (#29) remained a mystery until we got to the town center and started to continue west bound on towpath round, that is when we noticed a very sudden dramatic drop where the canal prism would have been located. Immediately we turned around and went to the home we associated with this property. Talking with the owner of the home we found out they used the land to raise goats with the gracious permission of the actual landowner who lived next door. We asked if we could walk around and take photographs after explaining who we were and our suspicion for this being the location of Lock (#29).

Lock Chamber of Lock #29, Lockport IN

We entered the goat pen and immediately noticed similarities between this area and the area around another known lock location in Gibson County. After conferring with Bob Schmidt about the construction type (timber), rough dimensions, and the layout of the area we can confidently say this was the spot of Lock (#29). Unfortunately, we were not able to locate any timbers in the area during our brief visit but the similarities with Lock (#71) are amazing and this area deserves more investigation in the future provided landowners allow it.

Putting Lockport behind us as the afternoon carries on, so do we, traveling down Towpath Road in Carroll County. Next in line for us was the location where the road splits two ponds at the base of the hill to the North. This is actually a series of ponds that are watered sections of the canal as the roadway passes over the canal to the proper side of the towpath. This is the same suspected location of Road Bridge (#45). Towpath Road is now on the south side of the canal, as it should be per the design of the canal. Towpaths were to be located on “River Side” to help protect the canal prisms from flooding and washing out. This means the canal’s towpath is to be located between the canal and the main waterway it followed nearby. From the confluence of the Little River and Wabash River in Huntington, Indiana down to Terre Haute, Indiana the mainstream the canal followed was the Wabash River.

Towpath Bridge remnants in the Wabash River, Carrollton IN
Restored Wabash & Erie Canal at Delphi Canal Park, Delphi IN

We soon crossed Rattlesnake Creek, the location of Culvert (#105) and shortly after arriving at Lock (#31), which is now a pond with a fountain in it on the north side of Towpath Rd a short distance above Carrollton. We stopped at Carrollton to look at the pillar remnants in the river from the towpath bridge and the lock location that marked the northern end of the slackwater navigation above Delphi. Leaving Carrollton behind us we meandered our way to Delphi, making a short stop at the Canal Park, but we were unable to spend much time there because we needed to begin the drive south toward home. The areas at and below Delphi will be another trip, but as for our time in Northern Indiana had ended, this doesn’t mean our canawling for the day was complete.

As we got on the south side of Indianapolis we hit a major traffic jam on I69 so we decided to follow one of the proposed routes of the Central Canal. We talked about all we had seen and done but as we got to Worthington we could not let our time come to a close. Shortly after turning onto SR 57 we turned east again and followed the canal path in Greene County down to Lattas Creek (#166) where we were able to see many timbers and iron works still in the bottom of the creek.

Lattas Creek Culvert (#166) remnants, Green Co IN

Timbers from the Wrangling Run Culvert (#179), Daviess Co. IN

As we progressed south we made one more stop in Daviess County just north of the White River above Petersburg, this stop was at Wrangling Run Culvert (#179), again timbers were observed at the bottom of the creek under the rail bridge. It was a short drive home from here and thus ended our canawling for the last weekend of August 2022.

The canal prism is visible intermittently throughout the state and there are some great features that are still visible after almost 200 hundred years. I do feel that these northern counties understand the historical importance the canal played in their development and because of this they have marked its route very well.

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What Remains of Prairie Creek Culvert

Carolyn Schmidt, most photos by Bob Schmidt

On CSI’s “Celebrating Anniversaries” tour in August 2022, we visited the remains of Prairie Creek Culvert near Peru, Indiana. Only a portion of the original culvert remains. We saw the downstream or towpath end of it. The actual canal prism above the culvert and the berm or upstream end of it have been destroyed although a portion of the timbers upon which it was built are still in the creek bed upstream.

Timbers were laid across the bottom of the creek as a foundation for the stone structure. They act somewhat like a teeter-totter in that as long as equal weight is placed on either end of them they will lay flat. Also as long as they are kept covered with water and not exposed to air they will not decay. A small stone dam was built on the downstream end to form a pool of water to keep the timbers covered. These timbers extend a little beyond the face of the culvert on either end. At the upper end sheet planking was driven into the creek bed to prevent water from undercutting the timbers and washing out the culvert. Timbers are visible in the above picture.

Below is a picture of a mural in Delphi’s canal park that shows a stone arch culvert. At Prairie Creek Culvert only the portion remains that was the towpath shown in this mural. The prism in which the boat is floating and the berm bank and culvert’s upstream face no longer are there at Prairie Creek.

Notice that the wing walls are basically gone on the downstream end of Prairie Creek Culvert. The grassy area above the culvert is the towpath bank.

In the picture below Preston Richardt, CSI’s web master, is seen standing above the culvert and looking at its downstream end and toward the Wabash River. About in the middle of the picture Prairie Creek narrows and stones in the creek help form a pool of water to kept the culvert’s timbers covered.

Once the timbers were laid in the creek bed, cut stones were equally placed on either side of the timbers to keep them balanced. Then a wooden falsework was built to hold up the stones as they began to curve upward and inward. These stones were laid on top of each other without any mortar.

When the final keystone was put in place it held the arch and then the falsework could be removed. The following pictures of the rebuild of Eldean Double Culvert on the Miami and Erie Canal between Troy and Piqua, Ohio in November 2002 illustrate how the culvert was built.

On the Canal Society of Ohio’s “South of the Summit” tour in late October 2003 grass covered the towpath and berm bank of the Eldean Culvert. The Miami and Erie Canal could now flow between these two banks and over the culvert while the stream passed beneath it.

Just like the Eldean Culvert, the last things to be built on the Prairie Creek Arch were the faces of the culvert at either end with ring stones, a key stone, and wing walls to keep it from washing out during freshets. It was then covered with dirt and the towpath and berm bank built up creating the Wabash & Erie Canal prism.

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My Trail: Walking from Laurel to Metamora

R. V. Morris

It was 1975 and a sweatshirt, glove, and hat morning, as I got off the yellow school bus with my fifth-grade peers. There had been a touch of frost on the orange leaves. We walked up the hill to see a hole in the ground. The rough limestone walls with pockets at either end and a row of cast iron rods protruding from the red desiccating Virginia Creeper vines created a ruin as monumental as Hadrian’s Wall, Irish monasteries, or Scottish castles. But this was a ruin of our own – an American ruin – a Hoosier ruin — memorializing the ambitions of a generation. The questions that immerged included, Who built this? Why would they build something on this scale? How did it work? What was their life like? What happened to them?

I crossed the railroad tracks and there was the power of thundering water passing over a feeder dam. The river was full, flowing swiftly, and calling noisily to be noticed. It was thrilling to see the great expanse of water slipping over the stone dam carrying a careless floating gold leaf over the brink and into the ranging torrent at the base of the dam. I was at the dizzying edge of the huge limestone blocks watching the water rolling over and over. Almost insignificantly water moved away from the feeder dam into the old bed of the Whitewater Canal.

Laurel Dam, Whitewater Canal

We left Laurel and followed an old Boy Scout trail that originally ran from Connersville to Brookville. It took us past a few residences, and down old gravel roads following a railroad grade and a canal prism. Periodically a canoe would slip past quietly on the canal. As I walked I picked out a perfect sledding hill that ended in a soybean field. I walked in the warm sun as I popped in and out of the shadows of the trees. Three times I would encounter the ancient remains of canal locks along the trail. Three times I would ponder the hopes, dreams, and ambitions of our pioneer ancestors who expected to improve their state and community by their works.

The day had changed to drenching sunshine with my hat and gloves in my pockets and my sweatshirt tied around my waist. Upon reaching Metamora the first exploration was the intricacies of a grist mill with mill stones for grinding and sifters for sorting the ground meal into specific products. Upon exiting the mill, I encountered a confusing water wheel sitting in the middle of the canal lock. With no thought about that I moved on to the boat ride. A fiberglass craft with a strong odor of hydrogen sulfide (possibly from the batteries) left the dock under electric power across the aqueduct and almost to the gates of the closed Millville lock be-fore reversing and returning its reel to reel tape recorded narration explaining the history of the canal. There were a few minutes of free time to purchase some ice cream, candy, or fudge at the new candy store before returning to the school bus.

On May 30, 1967 this motorized launch, “ The Valley Belle,” began running a one-hour trip running from Metamora to the Millville Lock and back costing 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children under 12.

I returned to that trail in college during the 1980s, when the Boy Scouts had forgotten about the trail, and it was just a wild memory. I returned to the trail as a young teacher when it was just forgotten. When I returned to Indiana after living in Texas I visited the trail again. The route, path, and maintenance of the trail has changed over the years. The interest in the trail has radically changed and today the multi-use path for hikers, cyclists, and cross-country skiers is about elven miles. What has not changed about the trail is that it is still some of the most beautiful land in Indiana. The hills, the fields, the Whitewater River, the Whitewater Canal always surprise and impress me. There might be a turkey that flies into the trees when approached, there might be a bald eagle buzzing over the river, or there might be the graceful blue heron following its mate soaring between the trees.

I hope that other people know this trail and use it; it is a great cultural resource. Indiana has underdeveloped public recreation facilities compared to other states which invest in the health and wellness of their citizens. I dream of the day when the Whitewater Canal trail once again links West Harrison to Cambridge City or Hagerstown. That would be a significant community asset that would enhance the quality of life in the Whitewater valley. It would be a welcomed economic tool bringing tourist and recreationalists to Brookville, Metamora, Laurel, and Connersville to enjoy the canal while spending their money in the trail towns.

I am proud to be a part of the Canal Society of Indiana, a group who has marked so many sites along the route of the old canal. As of today, the Canal Society of Indiana has placed over sixty-one signs marking Indiana’s canal system. The group has placed signs at locks, aqueducts, basins, culverts, prisms, and reservoirs. When people encounter these signs, I hope it inspires them to realize they are in proximity to their transportation history.

I hope you will join me in supporting the Canal Society of Indiana with an extra donation to place more signs along the canals of Indiana. It was just a walk along a canal, a long time ago, by a ten-year-old who learned to appreciate the hopes, dreams, and ambitions of our pioneer ancestors that flowered into the desire to develop a better quality of life in our communities today. It is a beautiful landscape populated by people who still have hopes, dreams, and aspirations for their community. Maybe there are other ten-year-olds out there that would like to take a walk along a canal . . .

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Three More Signs In Gibson County

Text by Preston Richardt and photos by David Kurvach

On a cool morning on the 16th day of December 2022, CSI Board directors Dave Kurvach (Warrick Co.) and Preston Richardt (Gibson Co.) met to install three signs along a southern portion of the Wabash-Erie Canal in Gibson County just north of the Warrick County line. The three signs identify the location of Culvert 214 – Smith Fork of Pigeon Creek, which was removed many years ago, Road Bridge 156 Evansville-Petersburg Rd and Lock 71 (remnants still visible today). All three signs are in Barton Township on CR 650 E “Towpath” Rd just north of Indiana 57.

Using a generator, drill and auger the poles were set in concrete and signage installed approximately six foot off the ground in hopes to keep the signs out of the seasonal floods that occur in this area. This area of Gibson County has a very well defined canal prism visible and can be visited most times of the year. For more information about the area watch Preston’s video on YouTube Wabash & Erie Canal Through Gibson County – Part 6

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Canal Notes: 8 – Williams Way

By Tom Castaldi

The man who developed the way West started by shaping the face of Indiana. Look for no towering monument to celebrate man or his projects, yet they affect our lives each day. Hard working and intelligent, he spent a lifetime behind the scenes joining east with west, yet only scattered references in history books discuss the achievements of Jesse Lynch Williams.

Jesse Lynch Williams 1807-1886

As Chief Engineer of the Wabash & Erie Canal, guided by surveys through a wilderness country, he determined where best the route would flow causing towns to sprout up, many of which are active and contributing communities to this day. Whether it be determining where the canal would cross a river or where lifting locks were to be located, when completed, he had built the second longest canal in the world.

In 1854, Williams turned his enormous talent and energies from canal to rails when President Abraham Lincoln appointed him a director of the Union Pacific Railroad. He held that position honorable while others faltered and was re-appointed by both presidents Johnson and Grant.

He died quietly in his Fort Wayne home on October 9, 1886, at age seventy-nine, and is buried in Fort Wayne’s Lindenwood Cemetery. At his memorial, he was remembered as one careful in making up his judgement, yet once formed, became his intense conviction. Nearly seventy years earlier when hearing of plans for the Wabash & Erie, DeWitt Clinton, Governor of New York and great patron of the Eire Canal, said, “You have showed me the way to the West.”

Others may be credited with winning the West, but Jesse Lynch Williams quietly changed the face of a developing continent by providing Americans the way.

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Logansport Tour Reported

Following CSI’s “Celebrating Anniversaries” tour Tom Castaldi, CSI director from Ft. Wayne, sent CSI headquarters the following article along with a picture of our group standing in front of the aqueduct across Eel River that appeared in the Cass County Historical Society newsletter, “The Confluence.”

Logansport Eel River Aqueduct, Canal Society Tour August 2022

A Visit from the Canal Society

In August, the historical society welcomed the Canal Society of Indiana to our main office downtown as they held their annual meeting and celebrated 40 years as an organization. Led by Tom Castaldi, the Canal Society also toured around the area exploring historical canal spots along the Wabash and Eel Rivers and the Jerolaman-Long Home and Carousel. For more information on the Canal Society visits

This type of article calls attention to our society and hopefully will bring in new members. It would also be good to have this type of article in the local newspapers. We appreciate the help of our members in spreading information about our organization to the public either by word of mouth or by articles such as this one.

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Western Wayne Heritage Receives Canal Warehouse

Reid Health, which is based in Richmond, Indiana, has donated the above Whitewater Canal warehouse that was adjacent to the canal basin in Cambridge City to Western Wayne Heritage, a local preservation organization. Built around 1847 this 175-year-old building is three or four bricks thick and two stories tall. It was originally used to store goods coming along the Whitewater Canal. Later it became a foundry for making farm equipment, a Chevrolet dealership, a wood shop, and various other uses until Dr. James Bertsch moved his practice, Reid Health Primary & Specialty Care, to it in Cambridge City in 2020. The building had been in his family for decades. In 2013 he sold the property to Reid Health.

Bertsch, the president of Western Wayne Heritage, is happy that Reid Health has donated the building so that it is not demolished like so many older buildings have been. Saving historic structures is important especially those that played a critical role in supporting a town or region. Hopefully it can be preserved, enjoyed, and continue to serve the town in new ways.

Western Wayne Heritage is currently evaluating plans for the property and thanks Reid Health.

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Bodine Starts Lock Project

Terry Bodine, CSI director from Covington, Indiana, is starting to build a model lock like the one that was located in Covington. This is Terry’s third model project. He has already built a model canal boat that he donated to the Canal Interpretive Center in Delphi, Indiana, and a model covered bridge that he donated to Covington, Indiana to raise funds to repair the covered bridge near his home. As he progresses with this new project, his wife Anne will send photos for “The Tumble.”

Starting the lock model: The boards sit on the table that Terry built for the lock. The long board on top is the rough cut oak he is using. Foundation boards are 5/8 x random wide and represent real timber 12” thick. The ends of the timbers are made to look like they were cut with an axe. The stove keeps Terry warm in his workshop.

The foundation timbers are planked. The bottom of the cribs that line the sides of the lock and the mitre sills for the gates to rest against when closed have been added at either end of the lock.
More pictures to come in the next issue of “The Tumble.”

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Proposed Ship Canal

Craig Berndt, CSI member from Fort Wayne, sent the attached article from the Trains magazine of August 1948. He writes, “The 18 ft. canal depth was interesting. Today, the Ohio River’s depth is just 9 ft. in the channel.”

The original Ohio and Erie Canal that stretched from Lake Eire to Portsmouth on the Ohio River was completed in 1832. The channel was 40-60 feet wide and only 4-6 feet in depth.

This pre-1945 proposal was for a ship canal that was to be named the Lake Erie & Ohio River Canal. The canal would have run from the Ohio River north of Pittsburgh to Ashtabula, on Lake Erie for about 100 miles. The 18 ft. depth would have permitted lake freighters to make the trip to Pittsburgh, not offload coal to barges like today.

The magazine carried the following report about the proposed ship canal that was never built:


1945 Map showing proposed canal from Ashtabula, OH to Rochester, PA from a 1948 Pennsylvania Railroad Board of Directors Inspection Trip of Physical Property.

“A Like Erie-Ohio River Canal from the mouth of the Beaver River at Rochester, PA. to a point near Ashtabula, Ohio on Lake Eire has been under consideration for a number of years.

“The canalization of a part of this route from Rochester, Pa. via the Beaver and Mahoning Rivers to Struthers, Ohio, six miles south of the center of Youngstown, Ohio has also been considered and vigorously supported by Youngstown interests. This is known as the stub or dead-end canal, and efforts to have its construction approved by the U.S. Senate failed in December 1944.

“The through-canal from Rochester to Ashtabula would be approximately 105 miles long, and in the 1939 report of the U.S. Army Engineers was estimated to cost $240,000,000, although railroad Engineers estimated the cost considerably above that amount.

“As a result of a resolution adopted in July 1946 by the Committee on Rivers and Harbors of U.S. House of Representatives, the Board of Engineers was requested to review the 1939 report to determine current estimate of costs and benefits of a through-canal, and the advisability of providing a project depth suitable for both lake and river traffic.

“The District Engineer at Pittsburgh has now completed his study of this proposed waterway and the subject will soon be set for hearing before the Army Engineers Board for Rivers and Harbors.

“According to the report prepared by the District Engineer, the cost of the canal is now estimated at more than $439,000,000, or almost twice the amount shown in the 1939 report. Annual maintenance is estimated at more than $20,000,000. Railroad Engineers are now engaged on a study of this project, and it is anticipated they will develop even greater costs than shown by the Army Engineers.

“The annual prospective tonnage for the canal is estimated at 36,714,000 tons, consisting chiefly of coal, coke, iron ore and stone, with average annual savings to shippers of $24,455,000. The effect on rail carriers’ revenues of such a loss of tonnage would possibly exceed $70,000,000.”

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Canal Symposium

Don’t forget to join us at the Canal Symposium in Ft. Wayne.

Its free and open to the public.

Hope to see you and some of your friends there!

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News from Delphi

December in Canal Park

December 3 was a busy day for the Carroll County Wabash & Erie Canal, Inc. in Delphi, Indiana. This year their “Christmas at the Canal” offered delightful options for all ages to enjoy. The Canal Interpretive Center hosted a vendors show where shoppers could buy handmade gifts of all kinds including Christmas Cookies or enjoy a lunch with family or friends. In the lobby the Delphi Public Library offered stories from the 1800’s. The Canal Museum was open free of charge.

Other buildings in the park were also open to the public for free. The Reed Case House offered tours and refreshments. The Little White Chapel, a former German Lutheran church, had two musical performances by the St. Matthew’s Singers and an audience sing-a-long. Children could talk with Santa in the Kuns Cabin.

A “Day after Christmas” hike along the Wabash and Erie Canal was planned for December 26 at 1 p.m. followed by coffee and hot chocolate in the Interpretive Center. Carl Seese was the narrator.

Canal Supporter

This year the association has decided that instead of having membership dues, they will have several donation levels that will make donors a supporter of the Carroll County Wabash & Erie Canal, Inc. These levels will offer several perks. See chart below:

The association points out their accomplishments over the past year as they pursue their mission of preservation, education and recreation. They welcomed over 1,000 students, chartered over 50 boat tours (in addition to public rides), and hosted many hundreds of guests from around the nation on their campground.

Canal Park Museum Opens March 11

Following the December rush of activities, the museum in the Interpretive Center was closed during January and February. This allowed the Monday-Wednesday-Friday volunteer crew to make needed updates and repairs in the museum and gave the custodial staff a chance to refresh everything before the start of the school and group tours in the spring. It will reopen on March 11, 2023. The canal boat, “The Delphi,” will start plying the old Wabash & Erie Canal later in the season.

New Wabash & Erie Canal Kids’ Activity Book

Mike Tetrault, executive director at the Canal Interpretive Center, was thrilled to receive the first run of copies for the Wabash & Erie Canal kids’ activity book on Friday, December 30. Author Leland Gamson, CSI member from Marion, Indiana, and illustrator Karen Camden Welsh generously gifted their time and talents to make this book possible.

Gerry Hulslander’s Canal Connections

CSI headquarters received a note from Gerry Hulslander, who lives in Illinois and has attended many past CSI tours along with his wife Jean. He writes: “I am in an assisted living place and any move I make is via a wheelchair so you know how that limits my activities. I will try to stay in touch (with you) about canals.

“I grew up (5 years) within sight of the Hennepin Canal. My father had watched them build it. My maternal grandfather farmed near enough to use a team and slip scraper to build the bridge ramps during slack times on the farm.

“Canals have attracted me from South Carolina to Seattle, to Canada, and wherever the Schmidts (CSI president and wife) took us. Thank you.

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Karl Black Recommends “Slow Boat” Blog

I’ve long had a fascination with the early canals and the equipment used on them. Over the past few years, my wife Demi and I rented self-driven canal boats and spent a couple of weeks cruising parts of the New York Erie Canal, and of course we had the delightful cruise on the Erie canal from Lockport to the Syracuse area as one of our CSI canal trips.

On that cruise, we stopped at the Midlakes Navigation boatyard in Macedon, New York which rents canal boats. At that boatyard, one of the boats stored “up on the hard” was the Dragonfly, described in the web site Slow Boat {}.

The owners converted this diesel-driven boat to a diesel-electric boat by adding solar panels and an electric drive system. They then cruised the full great loop with the boat. Later, they converted it to full electric drive and drive the boat over the “little Loop,” from the Erie Canal to the Rideau Canal, Ottawa, Ontario, Quebec and then down through Lake Champlain and back on the Erie. Slow Boat is their blog of both travels.

On their trip up the Rideau Canal, they met a British expatriate couple who had moved to Canada, bringing their English narrowboat with them, and had it parked in their front yard. Their description of the move is a good read: It’s an article you might enjoy.

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Antique Cards Found On E-Bay

The following two cards were found on e-Bay by Neil Sowards, CSI member from Ft. Wayne. The first is a stereo card of twelve-mile lock on the Ohio and Erie Canal. It is twelve miles from Lake Erie and is south of hillside road in Cleveland, Ohio. It is the 38th lock off the Akron summit level.

The second is a cabinet card, an antique Ward Kent Ohio Steamboat probably on the Cuyahoga River northeast of Akron, Ohio. When the card is enlarged the name of the boat appears to be “Metamora,” but the name of the line is obscured by the trees. This is a very unusual steamboat.

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Butter Removed From Canal

A fire at Associated Milk Producers Inc. started in a room that stored butter.(Gunnar Bortz)

Portage, Wisconsin firefighters weren’t prepared for what they faced in a fire at the Associated Milk Producers Inc. dairy plant on Monday, January 2 at 9:15 p.m.. Fire and smoke were coming from the roof. They were pushed back by heavy heat, smoke and butter runoff as they tried to enter the multi-storied building. The fire had started in a butter storage room and, as it heated, the butter began to flow throughout the structure. They had trouble dragging a fire hose up the steps to the collapsed area as they encountered over three inches of butter running down the stairway and couldn’t hang onto the hose line.

Portage Fire Department

Firefighters came from nine other area fire departments and were able to contain and extinguish the fire before it spread past the firewalls to other parts of the building. Fortunately no injuries occurred.

The buttery mess in the canal.
Phoebe Murray / NBC15

However, the Portage County Hazmat Team had to be called to contain the butter runoff that was seeping into the storm sewers and into the historic Portage Canal.* They placed booms (barriers) and absorbents to help control the butter, but it was just too much to contain. It had to be siphoned into trucks and removed. The next morning there were still chucks of cooled butter floating in the canal.

*Portage Canal 2½ miles long connected the Fox River and Wisconsin River at Portage, Wisconsin
Several projects were attempted to build a canal through the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway in 1837-38 and 1849, but they were not successful until 1876 when the Army Corps of Engineers built a canal with locks to raise and lower boats to complete a route from the north Atlantic Ocean, through the St. Lawrence Seaway and down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, and back to the Atlantic. By 1926 an 1876 wooden gate had to be replaced. Then springs undermined the lock walls and they were replaced. The project used 9,000 barrels of Portland cement. When completed in 1928 this was the first steel and concrete locks on the Fox River. As a commercial canal it only lasted a few decades, but steamboats and pleasure craft used it until 1951. Attempts have been made to restore a portion of the canal by the Portage Canal Society.

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More Funds For Soo Locks

John Geyer of Hamilton, Ohio sent an article from the Journal-News that says the Soo Locks project, which was authorized by Congress before and is already under construction, will receive $3.2 billion to cover the costs of inflation and design changes for the new lock. Currently there are two aging locks operating near Sault Ste. Marie on the St. Mary’s River on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but only one is large enough to handle the roughly 1,000 foot freighters that transport almost all of U. S. Iron ore that is mined near the west side of Lake Superior to Lake Huron and Detroit for the auto industry. Officials call this old lock the Achilles’ heel of the North American Industrial economy and don’t want it to be a point of failure on a critical supply chain. The new lock is planned to be completed by 2030. This money comes from the Water Resources Development Act of 2022.

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Gerald “Jerry” Bishop Mattheis

October 24, 1932 – January 15, 2023

Gerald (Jerry) Bishop Mattheis of Cambridge City, died of cancer January 15, 2023 at age 90. He was under the care of his family and hospice in Greenville, Ohio.

He was born in Connersville, Indiana on October 24, 1932, to John and Loucille (Bishop) Mattheis. He was graduated from Lincoln High School in Cambridge City in 1951. He served four years in the US Naval Air Force during the Korean War and spent 18 months as an Aviation Electrician Mate on the aircraft carrier USS Randolph. He resided in both Cambridge City and Hagerstown.

Jerry enjoyed people and had friends across the USA and in England. He enjoyed recounting stories of his adventures and the people he met during his travels to 48 of the United States and 42 countries.

He founded Mattheis Inc. providing design and drafting work for area manufacturers. He is listed on some patents. He had a distinctive professional printing style that was appreciated by his peers.

Jerry was married August 16, 1953, to Phyllis Resh of Centerville. Both he and Phyllis were very involved in historical preservation and real estate development. Their primary achievement was the restoration of the Overbeck House and Pottery Studio in Cambridge City.

As a member (1991-2023) and a director (2001-2023, 23 years) of the Canal Society of Indiana, Jerry and Phyllis attended many CSI tours and led or acted as docents on several of them along the Whitewater Canal. He was instrumental is saving the Vinton House, a canal inn. Jerry created a change in altitude chart for the Whitewater Canal. He erected several of CSI’s signs for the canal with the latest just before his 90th birthday and had plans for more. We will miss him.

Jerry was also a member of Western Wayne Heritage, Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite and the Whitewater Canal Byway Association. He was past President of Hagerstown Rotary and NewDay Kiwanis and the past Treasurer of Zion’s Lutheran Church. He had previously served on the Hagerstown Town Board.

He was preceded in death by his parents, older brother Bill and two infant daughters. He leaves his wife, three children Mike (Debra), Jill (Mark) Harris, Mark (Katharine), two granddaughters, five grandsons, seven great-grandchildren and one niece.

A memorial service will be held at the convenience of the family. Suggested memorials may be made to Zion’s Lutheran Church, PO Box 6, Pershing, IN 47370.

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Canal Clippings From Old Newspapers

The Wabash Courier, Terre Haute, Indiana
January 3, 1833
To the General Assembly of the State of Indiana.

In the discharge of their duties as prescribed by law, the board of Canal Commissioners, have the honor to report, that on the 22d day of February last, a commencement of the Wabash and Erie Canal was made; and a contract concluded with William Rockhill, on the first of March following, for the construction of section No. 1, of the middle division.

Fifteen miles were let in June, and four miles including the dam across the St. Joseph’s River, in the early part of November last. The contracts have been made with competent men, and taken for about the sum of five thousand dollars less than the estimate made for the same works, by Mr. Ridgway, the principal Engineer, and reported to the General Assembly, in 1830.—The sections let in March and June, are to be completed by the 4th of July, 1834; and those in November, which embrace heavier works, by the 10th of October, the same year.

The amount of labor done on these contracts, has been inconsiderable, as will be seen by reference to the abstract of Mr. Williams, the Engineer, marked (A.) and herewith submitted. Those let in June, were to have been commenced by the first of August, and part were, but between the letting and that time, the cholera commenced its ravages along the Lakes, and at Detroit, and as there is considerable intercourse between these places and Fort Wayne, fears were apprehended, that if a large force of men were collected in the summer months, the ordinary sickness consequent on their exposed situations, would be mistaken for the pestilence, disperse the hands, and be productive of injury to the service.—The greater number of the Contractors also lived out of the State, and the time necessarily taken in returning to their homes, and then removing with their families to the vicinity of their work, and afterwards making the necessary buildings for their hands, procuring materials &c., consumed so great a portion of the season, that it left but little inducement to labourers, to come from a distance and engage for the short time which would elapse before the cold weather would set in, and prevent their employ. These contracts are for light work, and with the preparatory arrangements now made, can easily be finished within the time specified, for their completion.

It affords great pleasure in being able to state, that the alarm on the account of sickness, was groundless, and that the hands on the line, as well as the inhabitants in that section of country have been usually healthy, during the past season, and enjoyed almost an entire exemption from disease of every kind.

In the small progress made, it is found that the detention of one half of the pay for work done, operates with some severity on the contractors, and it is believed, may be lessened in rate, without diminishing the necessary security for the State. The sections let, when completed, will cost from $1,500, to $14,000, each, and when so large a portion as one half is retained, it prevents industrious individuals, who may be without capital, from becoming contractors, and limits competition to the wealthy; much expenses is necessarily incurred, in the commencement of a job, in building cabins for hands, procuring provisions, cost of tools, &c., for which no pay can be derived, except from the profits on the work. These expenses are so considerable, that they form, of themselves, a tolerable security against the abandonment of contracts, unless taken at such low rates as to prove unprofitable. At every state of the work the labour and materials have to be paid for, in cash, and when the jobs are nearly finished, large sums will be due; much greater than the amount necessary to complete them. In such cases 5 or $6,000 might be due from the State, and the Contractor unable to procure money, to pay hands, be compelled to abandon the contract and lose what had been expended, when if the half or third part of what was due had been paid, would have completed it at a profit. To withhold too large a portion of the pay of a Contractor, produces the opposite effect from that which it was intended to guard, and has a tendency to compel the abandonment of contracts, for the want of means to carry them on. A contract re-let, would be taken at a higher rate, which would influence the prices at other lettings, and produce a prejudicial effect. The true policy it is believed, would be to sustain the Contractor, by allowing as large a portion of his pay, as safety to the State, would permit. Money at this time commands a high rate of interest, and when advanced by an individual to carry on a public work must greatly influence the prices of which they are undertaken. The discretion to pay within fifteen per cent of the value of the labour actually performed, is respectfully suggested, as an amendment to the present law.

Thirteen miles of the Canal line on the middle division remain to be let, which were calculated to cost $89,000 exclusive of estimate of $24,000 to cover the contingent expenses of the whole division.

The portion now under contract, when completed, will cost about $117,000 which is near the sum received and accruing from the sales of the Canal lands, so that under the present provisions of the law, the remainder of this division, as it is too small to divide with advantage in letting, cannot be put under contract, until sales shall be made, of the lands, to an amount which will be equal to the cost of constructing it. Two years time will be required to complete this part of the line, after it shall have been let—and it would be very desirable to have this done in May next, so that the connection between the St. Joseph’s and Wabash rivers might be opened by the 10th of October, 1834, and the whole division finished at the same time. It would save nearly the cost of one year’s expense of the Engineer department, and have a beneficial effect on the sales of the lands. The Canal funds, at the disposal of the State, are $104,000, which will be increased in March next, by $56,000 of the loan negotiated by the Fund Commissioners, as appears by their report. This, with the cash which will arise from the sales, will be sufficient to carry on the operations of the whole division, for eighteen months to come, in which time, it may be safely estimated, that the sale of the Canal lands, will amount to a sufficient sum, to meet the whole cost of constructing this division of the Canal line. The propriety, therefore, of giving the necessary authority, to have this portion put under contract in the month of May next, is respectfully suggested.

During the last summer, the General lands were classed and rated agreeable to the provisions of the laws, and tract books and maps exhibiting the classification of the land, and the rate-able

An engagement was made with Jesse L. Williams Esq. of Ohio, on the 18th of June last, to take charge of the superintendence of the Canal, in Indiana, as principal Engineer, for a salary of $1,800 per annum, his engagements to last three years, and be continued as much longer as the service may require for the same compensation.—Since his acceptance of the employment he has been actively engaged in the duties he has undertaken, and from the practical knowledge he has had in the construction of the Ohio Canals, the creditable manner in which the important and extensive works were completed, which had been under his superintendence, which his character for sound judgment and business habits, affords the best assurance, that his acceptance of the engagement, will be a valuable acquisition to the State.

Value of each tract, were made and deposited in the clerk’s office, in the counties where the lands lie.

A public sale was held, in the first week of October, at Fort Wayne, at which, all the lands were offered to the highest bidder, and as soon as the sale closed, an office was opened, for the purchase of the lands at private entry, at the same place, under the superintendence of Samuel Lewis, who has charge of that department, by a resolution of the board.

From the first of Oct., to the 21st of November, there has been sold, including public and private sales, 15,758 87 acres, for the sum of $27,961.33 on which was paid $13,152.99 and $2,088.56 for interest one year, in advance, on $34,808.34, which is the residue of the purchase money, payable to the State, the sale being at an average price of near, $3.05 per acre.

Which is respectfully submitted,
J. VIGUS Com’rs of the W. & E. Canal
Indianapolis, Dec. 13, 1832.

Evansville Journal, Evansville, Indiana
January 8, 1846
INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 27th, 1845.

Wm. H. Chandler: —Dear Sir.—Since the date of my last the Joint Committee rejected Mr. Butler’s first proposition relative to the settlement of our State Debt. On Friday last Mr. B., submitted a second proposition in the committee a printed copy of which I here-with send you. This last proposition is much more favorable than the first and will I think be accepted by the committee and its adoption recommended. I think the Legislature will not adjourn until some arrangement is made to prevent a further increase of the State Debt. When the question is fairly presented in the Legislature, I will advise you of the action taken thereon.

Yours truly, C. B.

Hon. JOSEPH LANE, Chairman of the Joint Committee of the Public Debt.

SIR—In accordance with the resolutions adopted by the honorable committee on the 25th instant—copies of which I have the former to acknowledge—I proceed to submit a farther proposition in relation to the interest on the Bonds of the State of Indiana held by the parties represented by me. I deem it proper to say that the suggestion contained in my first proposition, that it might be subject to modification if found to be inadmissible in any respect, had regard to the amount of revenue to be at present secured by taxation and to the details of the arrangement, and not to the reduction of the rate of interest to be eventually provided for.

I do not feel myself at liberty to make any proposals or consent to any arrangement which shall embrace less than the eventual payment of the just claims of the Bond-holders for the entire amount of the principle and interest of the Bonds in their possession—and as I have reason to believe that your committee are disposed to go as far towards meeting these just expectations as in their judgment the circumstances of the People of Indiana will justify at this time:—I am desirous cheerfully to meet them on that basis, and with such views I now lay before you a proposition which I hope may be found acceptable.

Five per cent interest be paid.—one-half out of the revenues to be derived from taxation, and the other half out of the revenues of the Canal, as follows, viz.— From revenue derived from taxation, the State to pay two per cent upon the principal of the Bonds from the first of January, 1847, to the first of January, 1853, when one half of the arrearages of interest from first January, 1841, to first January, 1847, and half per cent from first of January, 1847, to first January, 1853, shall be added on the principal and interest thus added, two and a half per cent.

2nd. The remaining two and a half per cent on the principal of the Bonds, computing from first January, 1841 shall be chargeable against, and paid out of, the revenues of the Canal, and shall not be chargeable against the State.

This proposition proceeds upon the ground that the Canal shall be speedily completed in its full extent to the Ohio River.

As such reliance is proposed to be placed on the Wabash and Erie Canal, by the Bond-holders, for the payment of one-half of the back and accruing interest, it is proper to say that its completion as deemed essential to the plan of liquidation contemplated, and although neither the Bond-holders nor others would desire to make further advances to the State; yet to aid her in affecting a restoration of credit, and in completing the Canal through to the Ohio River in the shortest practicable time, so as to ensure the result as aforesaid, it might be provided in the law providing for the payment of interest aforesaid, that the subscribers to a further advance or loan to the State, not exceeding one-third of the entire amount required for such purpose (using the lands for the deficiency,) should be entitled to receive out of the revenues of the canal and the canal bonds, after first repaying said advance, principal and interest, the full amount of interest on Bonds held by them, in preference to any other;—and also that the principal of Internal Improvement Bonds held by them, should be first paid;—for which loan, six per cent, stock shall be issued, payable in short dates; and for the security of which loan, and also for the security of the two and a half per cent interest aforesaid, there shall be a specific pledge of the Canal from the State line to the Ohio River, with all its lands and revenues, shall be vested to the satisfaction of the Bond-holders so as to ensure the application of the proceeds to the purposes specified.

I feel assured that this proposition would now be accepted by the Bond-holders, but circumstances may occur to change this disposition on their part if the question be deferred. All of which is respectfully submitted. CHARLES BUTLER. INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 28, 1845

Indiana American, Brookville, Indiana
February 6, 1846

Terre Haute.—On the reception of the news at Terre Haute of the passage of the bill for the arrangement of the State Debt, and to finish the Wabash & Erie Canal to Evansville, the citizens of that place held a general jubilee of rejoicing—the town was illuminated, and addresses of congratulation were made by R. W. Thompson, Col. Lane of Vanderburgh, and Baker.

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