What did the Wabash and Erie Canal look like during its heyday?

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At one time, the Wabash-Erie resembled this canal. The Whitewater Canal in Metamora, Indiana is the last replica of the great Indiana canal system. Packet boats like this one would carry passengers through Fort Wayne on their way to Toledo or Hungington. The Horses or Oxen would pull the boat down the canal at speeds of 4-5 mph. A law at the time prohibited speeds greater than 5 mph. Any greater speed would cause erosion to the canal bed from the boat's wake.

This fully restored aquaduct was the type used on the Wabash-Erie Canal. The Aquaducts used on both the Aboite Creek and St. Mary's Rivers were similar to this design. As the boats approached the crossing, the horses would be unhitched and walked to the other side over a separate bridge. They would be hitched back up on the other side. This procedure was cumbersome, and required a man to be with the horse at all times.

This is an Aquaduct spillway. Any excess movement of water would continue to erode the sides of the canal. These spillways allowed the wake caused by the boat to spill over to the river or creek below.

Horse barns were a common site at canal ports. The horses could eat and rest in preparation for their continued journey ahead.

The lock systems of the Wabash-Erie Canal were similar to this one pictured above. The only difference was the locks east of Logansport were made of timber instead of limestone. Horses would pull the large gates open and closed as the boats moved from one level to the next. It was said that one of the shortcomings of the canal system was the constant maintenance on the gates. This was one of the factors that led to its demise.

Maumee-Wabash Portage: The Glorious Gate.

Fort Miamis: The First European Settlers
Historic Fort Wayne: The Great American Outpost
Johnny Appleseed: The Pioneer Spirit
The American Civil War: Fort Wayne's Soldiers.
Arrival Of Locomotives:The Canal's Demise.
The Rise of Industry: Fort Wayne's Revolution.
The Management of Progress:The Prewar Years.
The War to End All Wars: Patriotism and Fervor.
The Promise of Hope: The Depression Years.
Great Strides in Industry: World War Two.
High School Proms & Cherry Sodas: The Fifties.
The Coming of Age: Fort Wayne in the Sixties.
The Rebirth of Fort Wayne History: The Seventies.
A new Sense of Direction & Growth: The Eighties.
The Bicentennial of Fort Wayne: 200 Years of Prosperity.
The Year 2000: Reflections and Great Expectations.

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Last updated 02/07/2003