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WARREN COUNTY CANAL


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Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 1 December 2004

Sources:
The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter VI. General Progress
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)
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In February, 1830. an act was passed incorporating the Warren County Canal Company, authorized to construct a canal from Middletown to Lebanon. The line of the canal passed through a valley of unsurpassed fertility, producing vast quantities of corn, wheat, oats, barley and pork, which it was believed would be, transported by this branch of the canal system. The company was organized and proceeded to construct the work. In 1836, the Legislature passed an act requiring the canal commissioners to take possession of the work, adopt it as a State work, and cause it to be completed within two years. The canal was adopted by the State in accordance with an amicable agreement be-

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tween the canal commissioners and the Warren County Canal Company, the State paying the company 50 cents on the dollar on what had been expended. The company was composed of men deeply interested in having the work completed, and agreed to suffer a loss of 50 per cent on what they had expended, the whole amount being $22,000. The amount expended by the State was $217,552.

The canal was made navigable for boats about the year 1840, but the Board of Public Works, in 1852, in a special report, declared that the work could not be said to have ever been completed, and that they were satisfied that it never was properly constructed, nor was it ever in a suitable condition for the navigation of boats of over forty tons. After about eight years unprofitable operation, the canal was abandoned, chiefly in consequence of the difficulty experienced in keeping it clear for navigation.

The canal followed, for the greater portion of its course, a low but broad channel, by means of which geologists believe that the Great and Little Miami Rivers were once united. No locks were necessary between Middletown and the Muddy Creek Valley. There were four locks within a few miles of Lebanon. The greatest cause of the failure of the work was the introduction into the canal of a small stream, called Shaker Run, which, in times of flood, filled up its channel with a vast quantity of earth, sometimes to the top water-line and extending five or six hundred feet each way from the confluence. This so frequently impeded and delayed navigation that it virtually drove boats away from the canal. Another hindrance to navigation resulted from the fact that the Dick's Creek aqueduct was placed so high as to prevent the passage of boats heavily laden. The canal remained in a ruinous condition after a breach had been made in the embankment at Shaker Creek, about 1848. No attempt was made to pass a boat over it after 1850, although as late as 1852 an attempt was made to have the State repair the work. The water for the canal, which entered at the western terminus, was drawn from Mad River, and passed through the Miami and Erie Canal twenty-one miles. The amount required was 1,800 cubic feet per minute. At the eastern terminus, the water was obtained from the two branches of Turtle Creek. A dam was constructed on the East Fork, and on the North Fork, a reservoir was constructed, covering about forty acres. Joseph Whitehall's mill was built at a lock on this canal, about three miles west of Lebanon. The State leased the power for two runs of stones at this mill, which was valued at $15,000. The water, after passing the mill-wheels, found its way into Turtle Creek,
The following is the last estimate made by an engineer of the costs of repairing the Warren County Canal. It was made in 1852. It is published in full, as it names the chief points along the line of the canal:

To the Board of Public Works:

GENTLEMEN—Having examined the Warren County Canal thoroughly, with a view to putting it in good order and repair for navigation, I now submit an estimate of the expense of so doing:

Safety gates and repairs, etc., at reservoir at Lebanon. $500 00
Repairs at Jno. M. Snook's mill-dam 100 00
Repairs at dam across Turtle Creek, at Lebanon 850 00
Lock No. 1, at Lebanon, repairs at same, also new gates entered 500.00
Lock No. 2. 500 00
Aqueduct across branch of Turtle Creek—repairs to trunk, towing path, bridge and abutments 500 00
Lock No. 3 requires new gates and repairs to stone work, etc. 500 00
Lock No. 4 requires new gates and repairs to stone work, etc. 500 00
Repairs to waste gates 200 00
To carry off the water of " Shaker Race," or run, the sum of 3,000 00
Repairs and re-building wooden culverts. 1,200 00
Dick's Creek, Main Branch, trunk. 60 feet, at $20 per foot. 1,200.00
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Rebuilding stone abutments and adding stone pier, in all, 250 perches, at $5 per perch 1,2,50 00
Rebuilding waste gales and weir at north fork of Dick's Creek 500 00
Rebuilding-three waste weirs, each 200 feet long 450 00
Lock No. 5, at Middletown, requires new gates, and repairs to stone trunk 500 00
Lock No 6, at Middletown, new gates, entire repairs to stone work. 500 00
Rebuilding bulk-head, and puddling new gates at north end of feeder to Warren County Canal, near Middletown 500 00
Removing deposits for canal feeder, and thoroughly bottoming same (20 miles), in all, 105,600 cubic yards, at 16 cents per yard 16,896 00
Closing breaches in banks, and repairing same, in all, 15,900 cubic yards, at 13 cents per cubic yard 2,067 00
Total amount $31,613 00

The above sum of $31,613 I consider ample to put said canal in good repair.

In many places the canal is filled to the depth of two and a half or three feet, whilst at others but little deposit is found, the banks have been cut through in many places to accommodate private roads, at other points, they have been broken by freshets and musk rats. The space below the trunk of Dick's Creek Aqueduct was always too small to vent the water passing in said creek during freshets, and the consequence was the banks of the canal were overrun and frequently broken. My estimate, however, contemplates an enlargement of the water way to more than double the present. The gates of all the locks are almost entirely gone, and must be rebuit, and probably several new miter sills will have to be furnished.

Respectfully submitted, JOHN W. ERWIN,
Rest. Engineer, Miami and Erie Canal.

 


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This page created 1 December 2004 and last updated 2 May, 2005
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