The Tumble May 2021


1. Establishing Toll Rates on the Wabash & Erie Canal in Indiana and Ohio 6. Whitewater Canal Byways Receives National Designation
2. Jesse Lynch Williams: Indiana’s Chief Canal Engineer 7. Whitewater Canal Trail Hike
3. Captain David H. Watkins 8. News From Delphi
4. Locking Through 9. In Memoriam: Dorothie Hall
5. Disastrous Flooding in June 1858 Destroys W & E Canal 10. News From the Past

Establishing Toll Rates on the Wabash & Erie Canal in Indiana and Ohio

By Carolyn & Bob Schmidt

After Indiana’s settlers had cleared the forests for crop lands, they were able to produce more than could be sold locally and needed an economic way to transport their excess to market. Roads were almost non-existent and railroads were new and untried.  They saw the benefits others gained by having canals. They wanted a way to ship out their bulk agricultural commodities and bring in finished goods from the east.

On March 2, 1827 the Congress of the United States granted to the State of Indiana a quantity of land that extended from the Auglaize River at Defiance, Ohio to the Tippecanoe River near Lafayette, Indiana, to aid Indiana in building a canal that was to become the Wabash & Erie Canal.  It was to unite at navigable points the waters of the Wabash River with those of Lake Erie. This would allow the interior of Indiana to ship to the east.

Since a portion of the line extended through the State of Ohio, Congress approved an act on May 24, 1828 that authorized Indiana to convey and transfer all the land of the grant laying in Ohio to that state on the conditions that Ohio construct that part of the canal that lay within her limits, that no higher rates of toll should be charged to any person using the canal than Ohio charged its citizens for using it, and that it would always remain toll free for federal use.

The Wabash and Erie Canal was opened from Lafayette, Indiana, to Toledo, Ohio in 1843. The first canal boat, “Albert S. White,” arrived at Toledo on May 8, 1843 from Lafayette.  Shortly thereafter, it was seen that establishing toll rates between the states led to complexities.  The states had to come to some sort agreement between them as how to set toll rates.

By 1846 the canal had been extended south of Lafayette to Coal Creek and was being planned to continue on to Terre Haute. Therefore the Wabash River shipping rates became another factor to consider.

In the Report of the Superintendent of the Wabash and Erie Canal, to the General Assembly, December 8, 1846 the issue of settling tolls between the states was addressed as follows:

“Almost every article of any considerable magnitude, that is transported on that part of the canal in Indiana, is also transported on the Ohio part; and there can be no good reason why there should be a different rate of tolls in each State. Whenever the established rate of tolls is so low as not to be oppressive upon commerce, it should only be reduced in order to draw a greater amount of trade to the canal. There ever will be a dividing point between the commerce of the canal and the Wabash river, and the lower the rate of tolls, the further this point will be removed down the river. Thus, the experience of years will be required to determine precisely what rate of tolls will produce the greatest aggregate amount of revenue. The same may be said in relation to the country on either side of the canal. One rate of toll, for instance, will cause wheat to be brought fifty miles each side of the canal, while a lower rate will cause it to come sixty or seventy, or more. But in all reduction of tolls made in order to increase the trade, Ohio should meet Indiana on equal ground, and their present Board of Public Works have given practical evidence of their willingness to do so. For causes above named, the rate of tolls will require changing frequently, as experience develops its defects. The unusually low stage of water in the Wabash river, during the spring and early part of summer, caused a large quantity of produce to be shipped on the canal which otherwise would have been sent down the river; and in order to enable the canal to compete more successfully with the river, a deduction of ten per cent from the established rate of tolls is hereafter to be made on produce shipped at Lafayette, or any point south, earlier in the year than the first of July. This arrangement was made in connection with the authorities of Ohio, and the same deduction will be made in that State.

“Experience proves, that in order to realize the greatest amount of revenue from the canal, the rate of tolls on the same article must be varied in proportion to the distance it is transported; for instance, a certain rate of tolls must be fixed for the first hundred miles the article is transported, and another and lower rate for the second hundred, and perhaps sometimes still another rate for any distance over two hundred.

“This plan was adopted when the canal was first completed, and has been followed ever since; but a portion of the canal being in the State of Ohio, shippers have not been able to avail themselves of the advantages of this plan, because, when freight reached the State line, Ohio has heretofore charged the highest rate of toll, without regard to the point from which it was shipped in Indiana; and Indiana has done the same with freight coming from Ohio. Thus, freights shipped at Logansport, paid the highest rate of toll all the way through, instead of paying the highest rate for the first hundred miles, and the lower rate for the remaining eighty-four miles. [to Toledo]

“This mode of collecting tolls was believed to be in violation of the spirit of the compact existing between the two States in relation to this matter. The grant of land to construct this canal was made to the State of Indiana, and she consented to let Ohio take the lands lying with that State, and construct the canal upon certain conditions; one of which was, that Ohio should not charge a greater or higher rate of tolls on this canal than she charged on the other principal canals in that State. It is true that the rate of tolls on the Wabash and Erie canal in Ohio, were nominally no higher than on their other canals; indeed, on some articles they were lower, but there being less than one hundred miles of the canal in that State, they collected the highest rate of tolls both ways; and by adopting the same rate of tolls in Indiana, which it was proper to do, it made the navigation of the canal more expensive to the citizens of Indiana, than the navigation of the Ohio or Miami canals were to the people of Ohio. This, it was believed, violated the spirit of the compact between the two States. It was undoubtedly the intention of the State of Indiana to enable herself to charge the same rate of tolls that Ohio did, and at the same time give her citizens as cheap navigation as Ohio gave to her own citizens on her other canals; but, for the foregoing reasons, this object was defeated.

“A representation of this state of the case to the Ohio Board of Public Works, induced a correction of the evil.

“Now, articles shipped on the canal, after passing the first hundred miles, are charged with the second rate of tolls for the remainder of the distance, notwithstanding they may be shipped in one State and conveyed into the other. Or, in other words, freight shipped at Lafayette pays the highest rate of tolls for the first hundred miles, and a lower rate for the remaining one hundred and twenty-four miles; and freight shipped at Toledo is charged with toll in the same way. This arrangement took effect on the 10th of September last (1846), and will doubtless continue so long as the present members of the Board of Public Works continue in office. When their places shall be filled with other men, other arrangements may be made. Whenever it becomes necessary to change the rate of tolls on the canal, the authorities of Ohio and Indiana should act in concert, in order to do equal justice to both States, and to the citizens who are engaged in the commerce of the canal. A uniform rate of tolls should be established throughout the entire length of the canal; this can only be done by acting in concert; and it is believed that there could be changes made the present winter, if a meeting of the officers of both States could take place, that would be beneficial.

“The duty of adjusting the rate of tolls on so important a thoroughfare as the Wabash and Erie canal is one of much responsibility—too much, in fact, to be placed in the hands of any one officer. The numerous interests involved, and the large amount of revenue collected, renders it impossible to give satisfaction in all cases.”

Although under this arrangement, the tolls were uniform throughout the whole line of canal, it was believed that further modification might be made, so as to add to the revenue of the canal and at the same time lessen, in some degree, the cost of transportation. This could only be done, properly, in connection with the authorities of Ohio.

In July 1859 Indiana and Ohio agreed on toll rates for the Wabash & Erie Canal and the Miami & Erie Canal as shown on this partial list of rates:


Journal of the Indiana State Sentate, During the Forty-Eighth Session of the General Assembly, Commencing Thursday, January 9, 1873. Indianapolis, IN: Journal Comjpany, Printers, 1873.

Report of the Superintendent of the Wabash and Erie Canal, to the General Assembly, December 8, 1846. Indianapolis, IN: J. P. Chapman, State Printer, 1846.

Jesse Lynch Williams: Indiana’s Chief Canal Engineer

Jesse Lynch Williams was one of seven children. His oldest sibling Micajah Terrell Williams established himself in Ohio and was so very  instrumental in the construction of Ohio’s canals that a lengthy article about him appeared in The “Old Northwest” Genealogical Quarterly Volume 1, No. 1, January, 1898. The article contained the following paragraph about Jesse:

“The youngest of the family was Jesse Lynch Williams, 1807-1886. The parallel between his career of honorable activity and service in Indiana and that of his brother Micajah in Ohio, is interesting and obvious. In his eighteenth year, in order to qualify himself as an assistant in locating the Miami [and Erie] Canal during the next season, he bought a secondhand book on surveying, which he paid for by hauling wood from his father’s farm. After spending six months with the Corps of Engineers in running the Canal line from Cincinnati to Maumee Bay, he was, a few years later placed in charge of an important section of the work. At the age of twenty-five he became Chief Engineer of the Wabash and Erie Canal of Indiana, and in 1886 Chief Engineer of all the Canals, and soon after of all the projected railroads of the State of Indiana. In 1864 he was appointed by President Lincoln a Director of the Union Pacific Railroad Company and was re-appointed each year till the work was finished in 1869. His professional life covered a period of fifty years. He lived to see the growth, maturity and decline of the Canal System, and the inception and culmination in the West of its natural rival, railroads.”

A more comprehensive biography of Jesse Lynch Williams can be found on the CSI website under Canal Biographies N-Z.

Jesse Lynch Williams
Micajah Terrell Williams

Captain David H. Watkins

Find-A-Grave: 31720474

By Carolyn Schmidt

David H. Watkins was born in Monnashire Wales on August 8, 1819 to David and Mary L. (Jane) (Hynton, Hinton) Watkins.  His parents were married in Llanhenock, Ganguertic Parish, Monmouthshire, Wales, about 1814 and started their family there.  They had 4 children besides David Jr. who were born in Wales: John, Hannah, Rachael,  and an infant. They later had a daughter Sarah born in Lagro, Indiana.

When David Jr. was about 13 years old David Sr. and Jane decided they wanted better conditions for their family and boarded the Brig Sea Flower at Newport, Wales for a six week ocean voyage to America. They arrived in New York on August 21, 1832 with Jane carrying the infant in her arms.  They secured a team of oxen and prepared for a westward journey.

The town of Monmouth, where the family had lived, was only about 3½ miles from the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal in Wales. This might have influenced where they decided to move once they got to America. When David Sr. learned that digging had started on the Wabash & Erie Canal in Ft. Wayne in 1832 and that it was to extend through Lagro in Wabash County, Indiana, he purchased a farm and later several lots in Lagro.

On their westward journey they went to Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, then to Piqua, Ohio for a short time before going to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where they stopped long enough to give their oxen a rest before heading to Lagro.  The surrounding country was full of Indians and Lagro was named for Miami Chief Les Gris (LaGro). Upon their arrival they were the third white family to locate there.

With so few white settlers, it is no wonder that the family became friends with the Indians.  David Jr. learned to speak their language. Years later he attended an Indian wedding and dance near Huntington, Indiana, where Lafontaine, who was a Miami chief at that time, served him dog meat.  David said the meat was most excellent. The chief replied “Yes, it is good.  It is a young dog and is well cooked.”  David had not known what he was eating.

There were all kinds of wild animals including rattlesnakes in the area around Lagro. In fact when the canal was being dug between LaGro and Wabash City, the construction crew killed three hundred of them in one day and burned their carcasses upon the heaps of logs they had cut down to create a path for the canal.  In 1837, after the canal towpath was completed, Judge Coombs said that within one mile he had killed six rattlesnakes sunny themselves on it.

Shortly after settling on the farm David H. Watkins Jr., at the tender age of 13, went to work as a water boy following the gang of workmen, who were constructing the Wabash & Erie Canal.  It is likely that his father also worked at times on the canal, but David Sr. had to take care of his farm.

The canal boat, Indiana, whose captain was Dana Columbia, was the first boat to reach Lagro  bound for Wabash arriving on July 4, 1837. After the canal was opened for navigation David Jr. obtained employment upon a canal boat. He soon became the roustabout to the captain. He later became a hoggee driving the mule team. In 1846, at the age of 27, he was the hoggee of a boat that took his Indian friends from Lagro when they were being transferred to Kansas.  Since he was fluent with the Miami language  he was an ideal choice to help the boat captain take the Indians on their long journey west, but it was a sad time for him. The Indians boarded the canal boat in Wabash county, were taken up the Wabash and Erie Canal to Junction, Ohio, then down the Miami and Erie Canal in Ohio to Cincinnati, transferred to a steam boat, taken down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River and finally up the Mississippi River to Kansas.  He thought he’d never see them again. However, almost 60 years later when he was an old man, he got to visit Kansas. There he was met by a squaw who instantly recognized him as the young man who had driven the mule team at the beginning of their long journey west. David was able to stay in Kansas for some time visiting dear Indian friends and his sister, Ann Portwood, whose husband was an Indian Agent.

On January 3, 1850 David Jr. was married to Permelia (Amelia) Harter in Wabash county, Indiana.  This marriage was short as she died on June 12, 1851.

After the death of his wife, David Jr. got “Gold Fever” and decided to go to California.  He arranged his business affairs at Lagro and started for New York.  His first stop was at Ft. Wayne, where he met Mary Ann Meyers, who afterwards became the second Mrs. Watkins.  He continued on to New York, boarded a steamer and headed for Central America. He landed on the gulf coast and crossed the Isthmus of Panama.  While crossing the isthmus the party had nothing to eat but monkey and stale mule meat.  When they reached the Pacific coast they boarded another ship and continued to California, landing at San Francisco several months after leaving New York. They then headed for “Dead Man’s Gulch” to begin mining.

At first the mining project seemed very promising. Some gold was found and it looked like they would make a big haul. However, some other jealous miners almost destroyed the mine during the night making it unprofitable to continue in the mining business.  After a short stay the party gave up and returned to Indiana following in reverse the same route they had taken out.

On May 25, 1853 Tuscan Lodge, A. F . & A.M., La Gro, No. 143 was chartered. Both David Sr. and Jr. were members.

David Jr. married Mary Ann Myers on March 4, 1854 and they had seven children: David Arthur, Rachel Ann, William Henry, Mary Luticia, Clara Belle, Armenta Lue, and John Sutton Watkins. He purchased the first stove brought to Lagro in Indianapolis and took an ox team there to return with it several weeks later. He spent the rest of his life in and around Lagro.

David H. Watkins Jr. and Mary Ann (Meyers)Watkins Taken in early 1900s

A story is related about David Jr’s. great physical strength. It is said that in his prime two men were attempting to load a 280 pound barrel of salt into a wagon at Lagro but could not lift it. When David laughed at them they proposed that they would make him a present of the barrel of salt if he could carry it home.  At once he shouldered the barrel, carried it about two squares to his home, and kept it.

In October 1857 David Jr’s. daughter, Rachel Ann Watkins was born and passed away that December. In November of 1859 Mary L. (Jane) (Hinton) Watkins, his mother, passed away.  His father, David Watkins Sr. died in October 1864. All were buried at Lagro.

In July 1864 David Jr. became 45 years of age and was then a little old for military or at least infantry service. As the Civil War stalemate dragged on, David Jr. decided to enlist on November 30, 1864 in the 43rd Indiana Infantry Regiment that was recruiting to fill its ranks. He enlisted in Indianapolis as a new recruit into Company I. On his enlistment papers he was described as having blue eyes, brown hair, a fair complexion, and stood 5 feet 7 inches tall. Although the 43rd participated in some battles in Arkansas in the Spring of 1865, it is not clear that he was actively involved there. Some of the unit were based in Indianapolis performing guard duty of Confederate prisoners at Camp Morton (today’s State Fair Grounds). He was mustered out of the Regiment on June 14, 1865 having served about 6½ months.

During his employment on the Wabash and Erie Canal David Jr. traveled on it from Terre Haute, Indiana, to Toledo, Ohio, for years.  He became one of the best known captains on the canal. He actually made his last canal voyage a long time after the formal abandonment of the canal.  In an article in the Wabash Times-Star on April 27, 1906 it says, “Along in 1875 Henry Stevens of Lagro was buying grain. Another buyer had leased the Wabash railroad elevator at that point, and the railway company sought to protect the elevator men in their monopoly of the grain trade at Lagro by a discriminating charge of seven cents a bushel for loading cars through the elevator. This charge was imposed on grain loaded direct from wagons, and as Stevens, who was probably the most prominent citizen of the place and a fighter, had nothing but the little elevator on the canal he was virtually put out of business, the railway people refusing to set cars for him unless he paid the charges. As Stevens had contracted for the delivery of considerable wheat which was coming in rapidly, and had no place to store it, he was very much distressed. The boats on the old canal had long since ceased running and Capt. Watkins had gone to other employment in Lagro. His boat had sunk in the basin a mile west of town where it was slowly rotting, and there was little prospect, indeed either of the veteran commander of his craft, sailing the decaying highway of commerce, which wound a turgid yellow stream among the hills and along the beautiful valley of the Wabash.

“The situation was serious enough for Stevens, and casting about for a means of getting his grain to market, he bethought himself of the fact that the old Cincinnati, Wabash & Michigan railroad, now the Michigan division of the Big Four, had been constructed into Wabash, and that its freight tracks were built along the very brink of the canal in this city. Loading from a canal boat would be easy and cheap, but where was the canal boat?

“It was while he revolved this problem in his mind that he encountered Capt Watkins, and the idea dawned that the captain’s old stakeboat [freight boat] lay in the basin, and might yet be strong enough to haul a few loads of wheat to Wabash, the distance being only five miles. The proposition was promptly made to Watkins to raise the sunken boat and then [put it] back into service again, and the suggestion stirred the blood in the veins of the old sea dog, who reflected that even if he raised the old boat and caulked her spreading seams that she would probably be unseaworthy and might again seek the muddy depths of the channel with a full cargo. ‘I will give you steady employment for two months,’ said Stevens, ‘at $5 a day for yourself and two men, handling two cars of wheat a day, and will furnish you a mule and tow line. Rather than have the deal fall through, I will pay for your dinners at Arch Stitt’s or Bill Ditton’s.’

“Captain Watkins decided it was worth a trial, and the next day went down to the wreck of the boat, and as the water in the basin was shallow, soon had the hulk afloat, and within two days she was receiving her cargo at the old dock in Lagro. Two cars of wheat were placed aboard, the mule was hitched to the line, and, while the canal was shallow having filled during the long period of neglect, Capt. Watkins’ craft did not once ground. One day he left Lagro in the early morning, arrived at Wabash about ten o’clock with the  load of sacked wheat, transferred the latter to the cars set conveniently by the old C. W. & M. road, and returned to Lagro by three o’clock, ready to load for the next trip. Through the summer the trips were kept up, and as Stevens’ wheat went north and came into Toledo over the Lake Shore road, it graded as Michigan wheat and he got from two to four cents a bushel premium over the Indiana grades. When the season ended Capt. Watkins ran his boat back to the basin and anchored her, and thus ended for all time the navigation of the Wabash & Erie Canal.”

David Jr. was elected a town Trustee of Lagro on May 3, 1872. He served as town marshal in 1881.  He had joined the Masons on December 6, 1864 and was a life long member ot the organization.  At his funeral the Masons performed their rites both at his residence and at the grave site in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Lagro.

David Hinton Watkins, Jr. passed away at 2 p.m. on April 25, 1906 at the age of 86 after suffering from chronic bronchitis and disease of the throat for several months.  His funeral service was held at his home on Friday afternoon with Rev. Burr, a Presbyterian minister at Lagro preaching his funeral sermon. Pall bearers were Charles Fulton, Robert Scott, J. F. Ramsey, John Smith James, Lynn and W.S. Pratt. Among the Wabash people who attended the funeral were: George S. Courtier, Chris. Hipp, R. L. DePuy, W. S. Pratt, Mrs. Sarah Pratt, Thomas Owens and Shube Straughn. He was survived by his wife, Mary Ann; his sister, Anne Portwood; four children, William H. Watkins, of Peru; John Watkins, of Lagro; Mary L. Marin, of Gas City; and Lulu McCarty, of Chicago; 18 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

His second wife, Mary Ann (Myers) Watkins passed away at Lagro on May 19, 1914 after suffering a stroke of paralysis, which made her an invalid for over two years before her death.

AUG 8, 1819
APR 25, 1906
DEC. 12, 1828 (birth)
WATKINS (base of stone)
Lagro IOOF Cemetery
Lagro, Wabash County, Indiana


Battle Unit Details

“Capt. David Watkins Dead.”  Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, April 26, 1906.

Draper, Nancy J. (Watkins), My Father, Hubert Paul Watkins Dedication.  Donated to the Canal Society of Indiana in July 2007.

“Funeral of David Watkins: Services Were Held From the Home Near Lagro Friday Afternoon,” Wabash Daily Plain Dealer, April 28, 1906.

Helm, T. J. History of Wabash County, Indiana.  Chicago, IL: John Morris Printer, 1884.

“Run Last Boat on Old Canal,” Wabash Plain Dealer, April 14, 1905.

“Was Captain on Old Canal,” Wabash Times-Star, April 27, 1906.

Wikipedia:  43rd Indiana Infantry Regiment

Information from Larry Kolber of Wauconda, Illinois, the  great-great-grandson of David Hinton Watkins, Jr.

Locking Through

(From Canal Comments No. 218)

 By Terry K. Woods

Though not all canal-era historians are in 100% agreement, my research has shown me that from the beginning of navigation on the Ohio Canal on July 4, 1827 until sometime during the middle of the 1837 boating season formal lock tenders were not stationed at each lock on the Ohio Canal. In fact, it appears that during this twenty year time period there were few, if any, formal lock tenders working on this canal and the boatmen had to “fit” the locks themselves.

This changed in 1837 when “Through” passenger lines were established and State Records indicate “Lock Tender Shanties” were being erected. In June, 1860, due to cost cutting measures all lock tenders except those stationed at feeder locks were done away with and boatmen, again, had to “fit” locks themselves.

All Ohio’ State Canals were leased by a private Company in June of 1861. It does not appear that locktenders were employed during the Lease.

The Company abandoned the lease in December 1878 and the canals were “in Receivership” until the State took over again in the spring of 1879. It does not appear that formal locktenders were ever again employed on Ohio’s Canals. In the late 80s and into the 90s, however, there were men employed by the state with the title of Locktender. They did not “fit” locks, but had a section of canal line they patrolled, checked on the maintenance and had the State Boat crews of each area make needed repairs and maintenance.

I have never seen an account of the exact procedures that a formal; Locktender went through in getting a boat through a lock and I’ve only seen or heard three references of a boatman going through a lock unassisted by a formal locktender.


“Then, when the boat got close, n’ you’d pull the boat in, then . . . N’ ya had ta stop.

‘cause the boat would go and hit those lower gates, ya know. Ya didn’t dare let it

hit those gates. Had ta stop the mules, and they – an the boat, – would kind of float

in.. . . An then they’d throw off the Snubben Line, An that Snubbin Line, ya had ta

snub it around these, – posts. N’ till you ease the boat ta a stop – – before it got to

the gates.”


“Now we reach Lock No. 19. The towline is unhooked from the Wipple Tree and

cleared under the bridge, over the gate and lower snubbing post. Then it is hooked

to the team, straightened up, and on. Then it was over the upper snubbing post and

Paddle Stems, making all clear. Soon the word “HO” is given, though if the water

through the Paddles is making it hard to hear, we could give a hand signal. At that

time the team stops. The way is snubbed, gates shut, the boat pulled back to ‘rest

on the lower gates’ (keep close to them until we rise above the breast so as not to

allow water from the paddle flow to enter our cabin windows) until the water in

the lock is sufficient to cross the miter sill.”

Dillow Robinson”

“. . . .And now I’ll try to explain and answer your questions of the command “Headway”.

Q. Who gave the command “Headway”?
A. The Steersman.
Q. Were the mules unhitched while locking through?
A. From the boat. Towline released from boat.
Q. Was boat snubbed to posts while in lock?
A. Lines were released from post after boat came to a stop. No lines attached to the boat while locking up or down.

The command “Headway” meant to quit towing and was given at every lock whether going up or down stream.  “Headway” meant that the boat had enough momentum to make the lock and the teamster could ease up on the towing so as to give slack to the towline so it could be released from the deadeye of the boat. After the line was released, the mules were allowed to resume their pace to the lock.

To give the word “Headway”, the steersman had to consider how fast the boat was being towed, the draught, and also the current of the raceway when close to the lock. Too much momentum could mean a broken snubbing line or a post pulled from the ground. I’ve never heard of either happening, but if it did, it would mean that the boat would crash against the apron or miter sill of the upper gates and be damaged.

If the boat was to be raised, the upper gates were first closed, then the wicket (or paddle0 was slowly opened, a few inches at a time. The flow from these paddles would cause a reverse current in the lock chamber and the current would drive the boat forward, sometimes near the miter sill where water would enter the forward cabin windows. When the water in the lock rose above the paddles, this current would subside and the boat would drift back toward the lower gates.

The snubbing ropes were loosened while the boat was being raised or lowered. We never used pike poles to fend off from the lock, even when we got a bit of water in the cabin windows. The water only came in for a few seconds, so we didn’t bother.”

I’ve added a few definitions from my Glossary that may help with the understanding of the process of getting through a lock.


The action of getting a boat through a lock. In going up the canal to gain a higher elevation, with water in the lock chamber at the lower level and the lower miter gates open, the captain would give the command  “Headway”, (or “Ho”, or whatever). The bowsman would unhitch the team and the driver would get them out of the way The boat would glide into the lock chamber and be snubbed to a stop by the crew. The miter gates and paddles behind the boat would then be closed and the paddles in the upper gate opened. Crew members then worked the lines on the snubbing posts or pike poles on the lock walls to keep the boat from striking anything as water rushed into the lock chamber through the upper gate paddles and the boat rose. When the head of water in the lock chamber and the upper canal level were equal, the paddles were closed and the upper gates opened. The team was then reattached to the boat’s deadeye and the boat pulled out of the lock and up the canal. Other combinations of boat directions and water levels were handled in a similar manner.


The duties of a locktender were to fit and operate the lock where he was stationed. However, during the later operating days of the Ohio & Erie, the few assigned locktenders did not fit or operate locks, but, instead saw to it that sluices, wasteways, and lock-gate paddles along a particular stretch of canal were operating properly. On some eastern canals, this person was known as a “level walker”. Evidence indicates that formal locktenders assigned by the State at each lock on the Ohio & Erie Canal only were authorized beginning in 1837 and were officially removed from all locks except feeders during the 1860 operating season.


The valving in a lock that allowed water to fill or empty a lock chamber. These paddles were operated from the top of the gate by a member of the crew (when no locktender was present) using a wrench-like devise on the paddle stem. The valving in Ground Culverts were also called “paddles”. The terms wicket and sluice were also frequently used.


A channel around nearly every lock on the Ohio & Erie Canal that connected the upper and lower levels. This channel and the accompanying tumble were designed to ensure a continuous flow of water from one level to another and to regulate the amount of water in the levels above and below the lock. They have been variously called, spillways, tumbleways, wasteways, and raceways.


1WKRP (University of Akron Radio Station) Interview by Dave L. Kiebertd, 1966.
2IF YOU WANT TO HAVE FUN, Take A Trip on the Ohio Canal with Bill Nye & Family, unpublished
   manuscript by Pearly Nye, Written between 1939 and 1946.
3This was originally in a letter to me of July 26, 1971 from Dillow in answer to questions I had asked.
  Historical quarterly of The Canal Society of Ohio) Vol. X (1972), Issue No. 1.
4THE OHIO & ERIE CANAL A Glossary of Terms, Terry K. Woods, Second Edition, Kent State
   University Press, 2011, Pg. 33..
5IBID: Pg. 33.
6IBID: Pg. 36.
7IBID: Pg. 39.

Disastrous Flooding In June 1858 Destroys Wabash & Erie Canal

One of the most disastrous months in Wabash & Erie Canal history was June 1858.  In January 1859 the Board of Trustees of the Wabash and Erie Canal reported the following to the Indiana State Senate:

“The Trustees have to report a series of disasters to the [W&E] Canal in the month of June last [1858], caused by the excessive floods beginning on the 8th of that month, by which great damage was done to the structures and embankments between Delphi and Terre Haute. The rains which fell during the entire month of May, and which proved so disastrous to agricultural industry, came in full force on the 8th and 9th of June, raising the river and creeks in the Wabash valley higher than they had been since 1828, and at most points higher even than in that disastrous year. These floods extended over a large portion of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and the damage sustained by various public improvements was immense. The Canal under our charge sustained a full share of the general ruin which followed the overflow referred to.

Map showing Wild Cat Creek near Lafayette, Indiana.

“By referring to the report of the Chief and Resident Engineers, hereto appended, it will be perceived that the greatest amount of damage was sustained on the portion of the Canal between Wild Cat creek and the Wea, both inclusive, covering a distance of some six miles. The abutment of the dam at Wild Cat, and the fine bridge over that creek, were swept away, the Canal itself, for forty rods north of the creek, filled with sand and gravel, and a portion of the embankment carried out by the flood.  The damage at Wea creek was equally disastrous. The aqueduct over that creek, consisting of three spans, supported by two abutments and two piers (in all 140 feet long), was also destroyed, and several heavy breaks made in the embankments and feeder.  The aqueduct over Shawnee creek, 90 feet long, was likewise destroyed, with the exception of the north abutment. The feeder dam at that point was likewise seriously damaged, two heavy breaks made in the feeder bank, and three in the Canal embankment between Attica and Shawnee.

Map showing W & E Canal at Big Shawnee Creek near Attica, Indiana.

“At Coal creek, in Parke county, a serious breach was made in the guard bank at that place, permitting the whole stream to pass around the dam and across the high banks of the Canal, carrying out at both about 25,000 cubic yards of embankment. No injury was done to the dam or guard-lock, and the wooden structures remained unimpaired.

Combined maps showing W & E Canal from Vicksburg in Fountain county to Howard in Parke county, Indiana and Coal Creek.

“The next serious damage south of Coal creek was at Spring creek, where a culvert was washed out, and some slight injuries done to the embankment at that point.  The Otter creek aqueduct and embankment adjoining received slight damage likewise. The most serious injury to the Canal in the neighborhood of Terre Haute, however, was the washing away of forty-six rods of embankment within the limits of the city, carrying out some 14,000 yards of sand and gravel, and completely destroying that portion of the Canal under the bluff banks of the river. This embankment stood all the freshets of the river for nine years, without any apparent injury, and its destruction in June last was caused, doubtless, by the building of the piers of the river bridge of the Terre Haute and Alton Railroad, just above the site of the embankment. These piers have formed new channels in the river, and forced the heavy currents of the Wabash directly against the embankment of the Canal, causing a constant washing of the base thereof, and undermining the loose materials which compose it.

“There enumerated cases comprise the chief damage to the Canal north of Terre Haute, with slight abrasures [abrasions] in the embankments at various points, which were repaired in time to secure the flow of water from the feeders on the resumption of navigation.  The entire outlay for these repairs, as per vouchers furnished, amounts to $55,439.31. It is a just tribute to the officers charged with these repairs to say that the greatest energy was displayed by them, and by all employed under their direction in putting the Canal in order for the fall trade, and that no effort was spared to secure the early resumption of navigation.  When it is considered that the most expensive structures had to be rebuilt, and with materials obtained at distances of from ten to thirty miles, and at a season of the year when the labor of the country was in constant demand, some idea may be formed of the judgment, skill and energy with which the Chief Engineer and his assistants labored to repair the waste and destruction caused by the floods. The structures are rebuilt in the most substantial manner, and the Trustees are gratified in being able to state that the Canal north of Montezuma is in better condition than it has been since its construction.  By this unlooked for disaster the active operations of navigation were materially retarded north of Terre Haute, on that portion of the Canal which has heretofore secured the largest amount of trade and given the most satisfactory revenues.  This suspension of navigation materially diminished this year’s receipts, and has greatly curtailed the means at the disposal of the Board.  From the 10th of June to the 26th of August navigation was entirely cut off from Delphi to Terre Haute, and at the latter date boats loaded and cleared from Lafayette to Toledo, and shortly after that time the water was passed down to Attica, and as soon as it was possible to fill the levels in the dry month of September, to Perrysville, Montezuma and Terre Haute. Though the season of navigation was far advanced before the re-opening, the tolls on the Canal north of Terre Haute for the months of September, October and November, as reported by the collectors, amounted to the sum of $32,755.40.”

Today, when we see construction crews building roads and note the time it takes to build them even when they have special heavy equipment to do the work, it is hard to imagine that in a little over two month’s time repairs to critical canal structures and the canal embankment were repaired in places to a better condition than ever before. We don’t have information on the size of the work crews, but it must have taken hundreds of men.


Journal of the Indiana State Senate, During the Fortieth Session of the General Assembly, Commencing Thursday, January 6, 1859. Indianapolis, IN: John C. Walker State Printer, 1859.

Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway Receives National Designation

On January 19, 2021 the Whitewater Canal Byway Association (WCBA) received an E-mail informing them that the U. S. Department of Transportation had approved the 2021 designations to American’s Byways.  Their application was accepted and the Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway has officially been designated as a National Scenic Byway and joins the collection of American’s Byways.

Out of the 63 nomination applications submitted in 2020, forty-nine byways were designated in 28 states, including 34 National Scenic Byways and 15 All-American Roads.  The determination took into account evidence of intrinsic quality(s); demonstration of national or regional significance; overall visitor’s experience; and demonstration of long-term sustainability.

All of the newly designated byways will be featured in a commemorative 2021 National Scenic Byways Program Designations Booklet. They will also be added to the American’s Byways website.

The Western Wayne News had an entire page about this national designation on February 24, 2021, with articles, pictures and a large map showing the routes of the byway.  Across the top of the page was a picture of the mural on the cement block wall over the culvert that passed the Whitewater and Hagerstown Extension Canals’ water under Main Street (National Road or U.S. 40) in Cambridge City.  Jerry Mattheis, CSI director from Cambridge City, designed the mural that shows what the canal basin might have looked like during the canal era. The newspaper noted that “the mural was sponsored by Western Wayne Heritage and Canal Society of Indiana.

Photo by Bob Schmidt

The article said the byway is 76-miles-long extending between the Ohio River and the National Road [and to Hagerstown].  It passes through Wayne, Fayette, Union, Franklin, Ripley and Dearborn counties. It consists of three loops and features some of the state’s most authentic canal sites including locks, Duck Creek aqueduct, the canal town of  Metamora, and the Canal House, headquarters of the Whitewater Canal.  There are also historic home museums, a working grist mill, Elmhurst House, Little Cedar Baptist Church, and the Whitewater Valley Railroad Museum in Connersville. Brookville Lake and the Whitewater Memorial Park offer outdoor opportunities.

Whitewater Canal Byways Association says it is thrilled to have achieved national significance and realize the many opportunities this designation offers the six counties in southeast Indiana that line the historic Whitewater Canal. The WCBA is looking forward to continuing the work and partnerships it has formed with these counties in a new and exciting way.

The Canal Society of Indiana congratulates WCBA on receiving this designation. We thank them for calling attention to the Whitewater Canal and its importance in Indiana’s history.

Hip Hip Hooray!

Whitewater Canal Trail Hike

On February 27, with light snow on the ground and the sun shining, members of Whitewater Canal Trails met in Metamora, Indiana and took a winter hike along the Whitewater Canal. The cut stone locks were easily seen with the leaves off of the trees and underbrush.

After receiving a $700,000 anonymous donation, the group is busy planning how they will connect their existing sections of trail to make a continuous 11-mile-long trail. The trail will run from the Yellow Bank Trailhead, through Metamora, all the way to the Laurel Feeder Dam. It will offer access to both historic canal structures and natural scenery unique to Indiana. The groups ultimate goal is someday to have Brookville connected to Connersville by this trail.

News From Delphi

From Dan McCain,

President of Carroll County Wabash & Erie Canal Association and CSI Director

After being somewhat thrown off its tracks the past year by COVID-19, the Carroll County Wabash & Erie Canal Park in Delphi, Indiana is getting its ducks (geese) back in a row.

It has planned the following events for 2021. Note that it is open weekends from May 29-Sept. 5, 2021, has canal boat rides at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. and crafters in Pioneer Village from 1-4 p.m. Here is your chance to get a real canal experience.  The added events and festivals offer even more special opportunities.

This past winter we had a big surprise in November when a broken water main inside the Canal Interpretive Center burst and flooded the building. Although it caused damage, with the help of good insurance, we are ready for crowds again when COVID issues allow.  We look forward to adding many weddings, reunions, meetings and visitors as the summer progresses and have planned events outside that will bring people to our popular recreated Pioneer Village.

The flooding covered the floors of about two-thirds of the Canal Center including the Museum. We contracted with a firm that utilizes special drying equipment and drills holes in the wallboard to remove the moisture. An imprint of a wooden lock sill required remediation.

Carpet padding that provided the sponginess needed to give the feel of walking on planks over unstable ground had to be replaced and the exhibit repaired.

Outside we have many miles of wooded trails and some had downed or leaning trees that needed to be cleared. So we offered the community a “free firewood” day in January to cleanup the surplus wood.

Dozens of trucks with crews came to gather firewood that winter day and appreciated the offering.  Donations for the wood were accepted and help finance the park.

We are now looking for volunteers to join our gardening group.  We have over a dozen established gardens all with historic plants as their theme—Butterfly Garden, 

Medicinal Plants Garden, Bicentennial Garden, Black Eyed-Susan and Purple Coneflower are just a few.  May 8th from 9-Noon is our Spring Landscape Cleanup Day.  We show volunteers which plants to save and which need to be removed.  Contact Linda Cooper

In Memoriam—Dorothie M. Hall

Dorothie M. “Dottie” Hall, almost 95 years of age, passed away on February 3, 2021 at Friends Fellowship Community in Richmond, Indiana. Born on March 13, 1926 to H. V. and

Lillian Harding in Canada, her family moved to Detroit when she was three.  She met Webster Hall, her husband of 72 years, while in high school. After graduating from Royal Oak High School in 1944, she put herself through four years at Albion College from which she graduated with a degree in education and library science in 1948.

Dorothie’s life revolved around education, service, her family and her grandchildren. She also ran the business side of Webster Hall, Inc.

Dorothie enjoyed quiet time with Web, travel with family, flying across the country in their small place, and many world-wide adventures. She also attended CSI’s  “The Final Link” tour headquartered at Vincennes in March 1998 and CSI’s “Hoosiers on the Move” at Richmond in April 2010 with Web, who has been on and has helped plan CSI tours.

She was an active supporter of Boys and Girls Club; P.E.O. Chapter AU; and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  As a member of Central United Methodist Church she contributed to innumerable programs.  In her spare time, Dorothie loved playing bridge, going to Forest Hills, and collecting English ceramic cottages.

She was preceded in death by her parents,; brother, Harold (Marion) Harding; and sister, Queenie (Richard) Risser.  She is survived by her husband, Webster Hall; their three children, Linda (Charles) Borrenpohl of Tetonia, Idaho, Ralph Hall of North Oakes, Minnesota, and Pam (Andrew) Howard of Loveland, Colorado; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Private burial was in Earlham Cemetery arranged by Doan & Mills Funeral Home of Richmond. A memorial service will be held at Friends Fellowship Community after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Memorial contributions:

Central United Methodist Church, 1425 East Main Street, Richmond, IN 47374

Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne County, 1717 South L Street, Richmond, IN 47374.

Dorothie will be missed by her friends and family.

News From The Past

These short articles were found while looking for topics for CSI’s daily “Day in Indiana History” E-mails to members last year.  Many of them are reprints from other newspapers, which was a common practice in those days.

Logansport Republican and Indiana Herald, Logansport, Indiana

December 12, 1833

This column followed the message of Governor Noah Noble

Which, we would ask the citizens of Indiana, would be the greatest advantage to the State at large, or the greatest expense, the extension of the [Wabash & Erie] Canal below this place [Logansport], or the improvement of the Wabash river from its mouth to this place? This being the only improvement of that nature in the State, and now being under construction, has become a subject of great importance to the citizens, generally.

If is very reasonable that the lands donated to the canal, will more than make the River navigable for Steamboats. There are a number of places for miles to the River that will not need any labour to make it ready for boats ___ _____ __any the amount that the former would, how much greater the advantage.

The Michigan Road, now the only connection between the Waters of lake Michigan & the Ohio River, will cross the Wabash immediately at this place. This being very near the middle of this Road, it would appear reasonable to give the traveler a chance of a comfortable Western course. But he is not of the only class that would be greatly benefitted in this change, we look to the interest of the State. So much closer connection of steamboat navigation with lake Eire.

Another advantage we would here observe, that farmers in exporting their Produce generally travel a Western direction with it. Then to deprive this part of the Wabash country (the most noted for its rich Products), of this means of navigation, would appear unreasonable. Of this section of Indiana possessing the richest soil, of its being productive of the richest bounties of nature, there is no longer any doubt.

We have lately been visited by the Governor of our State, and for his opinion on the subject we have only to refer the reader to his Message of the present year. We hope, however, that the subject will be settled to the general satisfaction of our young and enterprising State.

On the standing committees, Messrs. Hungtington, M’Bean, Vance. Colerick, De Paw, Hardesty, Fields, Stafford, Davenport, and Gard were appointed on Canals and internal improvements.

In the House of Wednesday the 4th, Mr. EVANS moved the following resolution:

Resolved: That the committee on Canals and internal improvements, be instructed to enquire into the expediency of employing a skilful engineer to survey the south side of the Wabash river, from Logansport downward, and make an estimate of the probable difference of expense, between the north and south side of said river in the construction of said canal from Logansport, to the highest point of steam boat navigation; and also to survey from the said highest point of steam boat navigation to the county seat of Fountain county, situate on the great bend of the Wabash river, and make an estimate of the probable expense of constructing a canal within the last limits; together with its practicability and importance.

On motion of Mr. BROWN of T., said resolution was ordered to be upon the table.

Daily State Sentinel, Indianapolis, Indiana

November 29, 1852

Canal Trustee.

On the approaching Legislature will devolve the duty of electing a Trustee, on the part of the State, for the Wabash and Erie Canal. The candidates are W. R. Nofsinger, the present incumbent, and Maj. Austin M. Puett, of Parke county; B. R. Edmonston, of Dubois; Jo Ristine, of Fountain; and Isaac D. G. Nelson, of Allen.

Evansville Daily Journal, Evansville, Indiana

December 10, 1858

The Canal Again. [Wabash & Erie Canal]

We are thoroughly persuaded that our canal with any degree of faithfulness and energy in the management, could be made a most valuable medium of trade to the country through which it passes; and even a “paying institution” to the bond-holders. If it can be rescued from the hands of the inefficient and lazy drones to whom it has been committed, all the reasonable hopes of its projectors may, we believe, be realized. Accidents and disappointments—the results of neglect and incompetency—have so constantly attended the attempts to use it, since its completion, that the people of the State have been led to suppose there were some inherent and insurmountable obstacles in the soil and face of the country, that rendered the construction and preservation of a canal through it, a work of exceeding difficulty, if not an irreproachable one. They have looked upon the past failures as inevitable and unavoidable. Defects are daily coming to light which show that with a fair degree of honesty and energy in its management, the canal can be made one of the best and most serviceable works of the kind in the country. The bond-holders through representations of their agents in charge of the canal, have been led to believe, and have complained to the Legislature, that competing lines of railroad destroyed the business of the canal; while the honest truth, the indolence, neglect, and unfaithfulness of the Trustees have been the cause of its decline, and will be ultimately of its ruin, unless they, or their system of management, be reformed.

We are glad to see that some of our citizens are taking efficient measures to expose its shameful mal-administration. Facts are daily coming to our knowledge that exhibit most culpable neglect, if not a willful design to destroy the business of the canal.—The only motive for this ruinous policy that can be envisioned, is a suspicion that certain parties are plotting to render the canal and it s prospects worthless in the eyes of the bond holders and the people of the State; then those who have apparently ruined it will contrive to get possession of it for a song, and make out of it for themselves what they should have done for the bond holders.

We have other letters of the same import as that published yesterday, from a highly respectable correspondent in Pike county.—We solicit persons along the line of the canal, who have any facts of importance relative to the administration of the canal to their respective vicinity—either creditable or discreditable to its managers, for we want the truth —to communicate them to this office that they may be handed over to the committee who are collecting information in regard to the business and management of this much abused and neglected public work.

Instead of stimulating the Superintendents of the sections to a faithful and rigorous discharge of their duties, the central authority seems to connive at neglect, and discourages every sensible and effectual plan for improving the condition of the work. We learn from most reliable authority that Mr. Smith, the faithful and efficient Superintendent of the lower division, who has recently been appointed to the trust, and who had not, perhaps, yet attained to a full comprehension of the policy of the Trustees, recently procured—in the honesty and simplicity of his conceptions of duty—tools and implements for cleaning the canal, at a point where for a mile, there is but eighteen inches of water, and which could have been deepened to 24 or 30 inches, at a very slight expense. Instead of receiving the approbation and commendation of the Trustees for his enterprise and faithfulness, he got an order from Terre Haute to suspend his plans and sell his tools, as such work was not needed. In his report he states the necessity of the work and protests against the order for the discontinuance as ruinous to the interests of this part of the canal. His friends are apprehensive that his independence and boldness will cost him his office. The public will see if the Trustees have no more regard for public opinion on this part of the canal, than to decapitate him for his insubordination. He is the only man, as far as we can learn, on the canal between here [Evansville] and Terre Haute, who has tried to do his duty faithfully.

Evansville Daily Journal, Evansville, Indiana

December 10, 1858

The steamer Fulton, on the Erie canal, sank near Rockport [New York] in six feet of water, and her cargo of nearly 5,000 bushes of wheat was greatly damaged.

Brookville American, Brookville, Indiana

December 10, 1858

The canal boat Gen. Lane, loaded with lumber, ran on a bar near the feeder dam, South of town [Brookville] on Friday last and broke in two.

Brookville American, Brookville, Indiana

December 10, 1858

CANADIAN ENTERPRISES.—A railroad is now being constructed in Canada on the banks of the Welland Canal for the purpose of facilitating the transportation of grain from Port Colborne on Lake Erie to Port Dalhousie on Lake Ontario. The Welland Canal being too narrow to admit vessels of heavy tonnage to pass through it is proposed to employ larger vessels on both lakes, both above and below the canal. The cargo is to be transferred to rail cars by means of elevators, and again put on board vessels in Lake Ontario. A few hours time will only be necessary to transfer a cargo of grain from a vessel of the largest class in Lake Erie to another in the lower lake.

Daily State Sentinel, Indianapolis, Indiana

December 6, 1864

Butler’s canal, which has been so long in progress, is five hundred and fifty feet in length, sixty feet wide at the bottom and one hundred and twenty-five at the top. It will have fifteen feet of water at low tide. It goes through a strata of unctuous clay, to which vegetable matter exists, half converted into coal.

Benjamin Butler was building the Dutch Gap Canal on the James River in Virginia, which was referred to as Butler’s Canal.

Daily Wabash Express, Terre Haute, Indiana

December 13. 1870

The canal swindle organs of New York City say that the Indiana Legislature refuses to tax our citizens $18,000,000 for the benefit of the canal stock holders. Indiana will put itself on the record as a repudiator and that the people of Indiana cannot afford this reputation. Whereupon the Indianapolis Journal says: “This moral lecture coming to the people of Indiana from the purity of Wall street, has the freshness of a breeze. Next we shall have JIM FISK and DREW traveling West to lecture us on the immortality of Western railroad management, and the Judges CARDOZA and BARNARD delivering homilies on judicial integrity.”

Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana

December 6, 1892

A portion of President Benjamin Harrison’s speech in which he gives the account of government operations and his recommendations on Canada’s canals and the Nicaraguan Canal follows:

The controversy as to tolls upon the Welland canal, which was presented to Congress at the last session by a special message, having failed of adjustment, I felt constrained to exercise the authority conferred by the act of July 26, 1892, and to proclaim a suspension of the free use of St. Mary’s Falls [Sault Sainte Marie] canal to cargoes in transit to ports in Canada. The Secretary of the Treasury established such tolls as were thought to be of equivalent to the exactions unjustly levied upon our commerce in the Canadian canals.

If, as we must suppose, the political relations of Canada, and the disposition of the Canadian government are to remain unchanged, a somewhat radical revision of our trade relations should, I think, be made. Our relations must continue to be intimate, and they should be friendly. I regret to say, however, that in many of the controversies, notably those as to the fisheries on the Atlantic, the sealing interests on the Pacific and the canal tolls, our negotiations with Great Britain have continuously been thwarted or retarded by unreasonable and unfriendly objections and protests from Canada. In the matter of the canal tolls, our treaty rights were flagrantly disregarded. It is hardly too much to say that the Canadian Pacific, and other railway lines which parallel our northern boundary, are sustained by commerce having either its origin, or the originators, or both, in the United States. The Canadian railways compete with those of the United States for our traffic, and without the restraints of our interstate commerce act. Their cars pass almost without detention into and out of our territory.


There is no disposition on the part of the people or Government of the United States to interfere in the smallest degree with the political relations of Canada. That question is wholly with her own people. It is time for us, however, to consider whether, if the present state of things and trend of things is to continue, our interchanges upon lines of land transportation should not be put upon a different basis, and our entire independence of Canadian canals and of the St. Lawrence as an outlet to the sea secured by the construction of an American canal around the falls of Niagara and the opening of ship communication between the great lakes and one of our own seaports. We should not hesitate to avail ourselves of our great natural trade advantages. We should withdraw the support which is given to the railroads and steamship lines of Canada by a traffic that properly belongs to us, and no longer furnish the earnings which lighten the otherwise crushing weight of the enormous public subsidies that have been given to them. The subject of the power of the Treasury to deal with this matter without further legislation has been under consideration, but circumstances have postponed a conclusion. It is probable that a consideration of the propriety of a modification or abrogation of the article of the treaty of Washington, relating to the transit of goods in bonds is involved in any complete solution of the question.


I repeat, with great earnestness, the recommendation which I have made mention in previous messages to the inadequate support given the American company engaged in the construction of the Nicaragua canal. It is impossible to overstate the value from every standpoint of this great enterprise, and I hope that there may be time given in the Congress to give to it an impetus that will insure the early completion of the canal, and secure to the United States its proper relations to it when completed.

Marshall County Independent, Plymouth, Indiana

December 28, 1894

Depreciation of a Canal.

The Somersetshire coal canal was put up for sale recently at Tokenhouse Yard. The canal is about ten and one-half miles in length. The actual rents received from cottages and surplus lands amount to about £15 per annum. The canal was opened in 1804. It had a prosperous career down to 1872, at which time tolls were taken on 157,000 tons yearly. From 1884 to 1888 the tonnage was taken on a yearly average of about 24,000 tons, producing £1,547 in tolls, while the average yearly expenditure was £1,284. In 1889 considerable difficulties were caused by strikes, etc., and the collieries feeding the canal remained idle for some time. This state of things occurred more or less in subsequent years, and the company eventually went into liquidation. The original cost of the canal was about £200,000, and the auctioneer said that a bid of £20,000 would not be refused.  A railway company was, he said, almost certain to acquire the property sooner or later, but it afforded opportunities in connection with speculative undertakings. The highest bid was only £3,000, and the auctioneer withdrew the property from sale.

Indianapolis Times, Indianapolis, IN

December 28, 1935


Movement Increases to 1,313,023 Tons During Year.

NEW YORK. Dec. 28.—With a heavy movement of wheat, gasoline, iron and steel, wood pulp and iron ore, total freight on the Welland Canal increased from 1,253,412 tons in November, 1934, to 1,313,023 tons in the same month this year, according to the current issue of the Weekly Underwriters magazine.

Barley, corn, oats, rye, soft coal and pulpwood all showed substantial decreases. There also were decreases in all grains, coals, coke, sand and gravel, pulpwood and petroleum and oils.