|Exploring Indiana's Historic Sites,|
Markers & Museums
South East Edition
NW corner of Whitewater River bridge at Campbell & State Streets across railroad tracks, south side of West Harrison. (Dearborn County, Indiana)
1999 Indiana Historical Bureau, Canal Society of Indiana, and Dearborn County Historical Society.
Marker ID #:
The Whitewater Canal and the Cincinnati and Whitewater Canal joined in Harrison to provide better access to Cincinnati markets and Ohio River. Indiana Internal Improvement Act 1836 authorized Whitewater Canal; completed from Brookville to Lawrenceburg 1839. Nearby Dam No. 1 on Whitewater River created a pool for canal boats to cross the river.
Cincinnati and Whitewater Canal incorporated by Ohio General Assembly 1837. Completed seven miles from Harrison (now West Harrison), Indiana to Dry Fork Creek, Ohio 1840. Twenty-five mile canal opened 1843 when 1, 782 foot tunnel completed at Cleves, Ohio. Traffic diverted to Cincinnati on this interstate transportation link diminished Lawrenceburg's importance as a market.
Brief History by the Author
Canals reigned supreme during the early part of the Nineteenth Century before the advent of the railroads. They provided a cheap, fast means of transporting goods overland. They had grave disadvantages, though. They were expensive to build and maintain. It was only possible to construct them in favorable terrain. Indiana and Ohio both embarked on canal building programs and managed to link their systems here, at the junction of the Cincinnati and Whitewater Canal and the Whitewater Canal.
The Whitewater Canal's construction lasted from 1836 to 1847. During this time, there were many starts and pauses as the State of Indiana ran out of money and the various private companies charged with completing also ran into financial difficulties. After completion, it connected Hagerstown, Indiana with Cincinnati, Ohio seventy-six miles to the south. The canal provided a quick, convenient way for farmers to transport their goods to market in the cities. Before the canal a farmer would need several days travel over deeply rutted roads to take his goods to Cincinnati. The canal proved a difficult construction project. It dropped 491 feet over the distance and needed fifty-six locks and seven dams. Several aqueducts to carry the canal over waterways also needed construction. The canal operated until 1862. The Whitewater Valley Railroad runs a part of the canal as a tourist attraction between Connersville and Metamora Indiana. The train runs alongside the canal and at Metamora visitors can ride a canal boat. The town of Metamora has many small shops and museums. The State of Indiana maintains an operating gristmill in the town.
For more information contact:
Whitewater Valley Railroad
455 Market St,
Connersville, IN 47331
Cincinnati and Whitewater Canal
When Indiana proposed building the Whitewater Canal, Cincinnati merchants persuaded a consortium of private investors and the State of Ohio to fund a spur to connect with it. This fourteen miles spur was constructed between 1839 and 1843. It included a canal tunnel, one of the few constructed in the United States. The canal was eventually abandoned and has silted up over the years from flooding and disuse. The Indianapolis and Cincinnati Railroad purchased the canal in 1862 and used the canal towpath for a rail line. The tunnel, used for a time as a railroad tunnel, still exists and is on the National Register of Historic Places. President William Henry Harrison owned part of the land the canal needed and donated some land towards it. He is buried on a ridge over the tunnel. The Ohio Historical Society has a historical marker near its northern portal.