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Ohio & Erie Canalway

Basics
Length:
110 miles (177 km)
Time:
Allow 4.5 hours to drive the Byway or a few days to enjoy it.
Fees:
There are no fees along the Byway.

Description

Providing sustenance, power, transportation, and recreation, water draws people. The idea is deftly played out along the Ohio & Erie Canalway, which is resplendent with water, including a number of lakes, the Cuyahoga River, and then, of course, the Ohio & Erie Canal. Constructed more than a century and a half ago, the Ohio & Erie Canal affected the pace and character of the rural land of Ohio and changed the life of the people there forever.

More than any other state, Ohio has been America's transportation hub. Ohio became a state in 1803, but even before that, people came to the area to farm its rich soil. By 1820 farmers needed better transportation routes to distant eastern markets. Before turnpikes and interstate highways crisscrossed the state... before the Lincoln Highway became the nation's first coast-to-coast roadway... before railroads chugged across the landscape, water was the easiest and cheapest way to move products east and west, north and south. In 1820 roads were poor or nonexistent in Ohio, and many rivers and other bodies of water within the state were not navigable for any distance. These waters could, however, be used to feed a canal system. Thus materialized the idea for the Ohio & Erie Canal.

When the Ohio & Erie Canal opened in 1832, it was the first major canal west of the Appalachian Mountains. Along with New York's Erie Canal, the canal quickly became part of the most important transportation system of its day. Within one year of its opening, Buffalo, New York merchants increased their purchases from Cleveland's wheat market from 1,000 bushels annually to more than 250,000. By connecting the Ohio frontier with New York and New Orleans, the Ohio & Erie Canal helped people and products flow across America, fueling westward expansion, a national market economy, and regional industrial might.

To gain a sense of the impact of the canal, visit one of the many parks along the Byway where you can see one of the 44 locks. Or you can glide down an original section of the Canal in Saint Helena III. She's a gem of a canal boat and, in traditional style, pulled by a team of horses. At the far end of the "cruise," the crew skillfully maneuvers the boat around the Lock IV turning basin.

Today, the Ohio & Erie Canalway is one of the America's Byways and a National Heritage Area. It's where you can experience trails, and trains, canal towns, and ethnic neighborhoods, working rivers and great lakes, industrial landscapes and green spaces.

Tourism Resources

Points of Interest

Points of Interest Along The Way

Akron (OH)

Akron is at the hub of Interstates 76 and 77 and houses a multitude of attractions. Adjacent to the Towpath along the Canal route, visitors can find excellent restaurants, lodging, and even enjoy the Akron Aero's baseball games at Akron's new stadium.

Akron Art Museum (OH)

Housing regional, national and international works dating from 1850, the restored late-19th Century Italian Renaissance Revivial building showcases recent pieces by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, and Helen Frankenthaler, as well as turn-of-the-century Impressionist landscapes by William Merritt Chase and Childe Hassam. Outside, the Myers Sculpture Courtyard has a permanent, large-scale sculpture collection. Classes, art festivals, hands-on family exhibits, and summer outdoor concerts are all offered a the Akron Art Museum.

Akron Civic Theatre (OH)

The Akron Civic Theater was built in 1926 as a movie palace and is noted for its Spanish Baroque Revival architecture. The theater presents a wide array of entertainment from classic films to modern rock concerts.

Anna Dean Park (OH)

A 1/2 mile trail winds through this 13-acre park, which was once part of Ohio C. Barber's Anna Dean Farm. The park is adjacent to the remaining Barber buildings, namely, the colt barn; Yoder Brothers, Inc.; the powerhouse that heated the extensive greenhouses; and the piggery.

Blossom Music Center (OH)

Located in Cuyahoga Falls (near the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area), this cultural facility provides a wide range of music programs, serving 420,000 patrons annually.

Directions

In the south part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, go east on Steels Corners Road to 1145 West.

Canal Fulton (OH)

This historic canal town, formerly called Milan, was a busy port on the Ohio and Erie Canal during the 1840s and 1850s. The town takes its name, Canal Fulton, in honor of Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat. Today the town features Lock IV Park with one of the few remaining working locks along the canal; the Heritage House Museum; and the Historic Oberlin House. Filled with quaint shops and restaurants, you will find that Canal Fulton lives up to its billing as "A Friendly Village Since 1814."

Canal Park in Akron (OH)

The Akron Aeros threw the first pitch to open this park and start their minor league team on April 10, 1997. The park is located adjacent to the Lock 1 Interpretive Park and along the Canal Towpath Trail.

Cascade Locks Park (OH)

Cascade Locks Park includes two historic canal-era buildings, the Mustill Store (a former general store) and House. The Towpath Trail follows a series of staircase locks that climb the summit into the city of Akron. This new park offers interpretive materials about the history of Akron.

Cleveland (OH)

With unique architecture, distinctive public art, restored historical sites, beautiful parks, great restaurants, and world-class attractions, Cleveland is a diverse, modern city.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (OH)

Beginning with Zeptha H. Wade's donation of land and a herd of American deer for Wade Park in 1882, the Cleveland Zoo has developed into one of the finest zoos in the nation. Moved from the University Circle area to Brookside Park in the Big Creek Valley in 1916, the zoological collections have continued to grow and regularly draw over 1 million visitors annually. One of the zoo's major attractions is the RainForest, which re-creates a sense of the Amazon in the heart of Northeast Ohio. Annual events include Boo-at-the-Zoo, Howl at the Moon, and an Earth Day Festival.

Details

Length:
110 miles (177 km)
Time:
Allow 4.5 hours to drive the Byway or a few days to enjoy it.
Fees:
There are no fees along the Byway.

Map + Directions

Customizable Directions


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