Although the days of the Ohio and Erie Canal are long gone, you can still catch a ride on an old-fashioned canal boat.
The Ohio and Erie Canal was constructed between the 1820s and early 1830s in Ohio. Just like the name sounds, the canal connected the Ohio River in the south to Lake Erie in the north. In its prime, the canal system was 308 miles long with 146 life locks and a rise of 1,206 feet.
The canal carried freight traffic throughout the mid-1800s and eventually even served as a water source for various industries and towns. In the early 20th century, much of the canal system in Ohio was abandoned after flooding, but a few unique spots still remain.
Most of the sections of the canal still in existence are managed by the National Park Service or Ohio Department of Natural Resources and are used for a variety of recreational purposes. The canals have also been preserved as historic features and that’s where you’ll find the opportunity to hop on canal boats.
So where can you still take a ride? There are three spots around the state where you can see what traveling via canal was like in the 19th century. All three of these canal boats are still pulled by pairs of horses or donkeys, allowing the boat to amble along the canals at a controlled, steady pace.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Historic Roscoe Village
Historic Roscoe Village is a restored 1830s port town, showing visitors what life was like along the canal in the 1830s. The village has full costumed interpreters, a practicing blacksmith, time period arts and crafts, and Living History Tours.
It’s at Historic Roscoe Village where we can step aboard our first canal boat, the Monticello III. As the team of draft horses pulls the boat down the canal, you can enjoy the natural beauty of the area, as well as tales from the captain describing life on the canal in the 1800s.
The canal boat is open to the public from Memorial Day through Labor Day, on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. There are rides every hour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults, and $7 for seniors and kids ages 5-12.
For more info, visit roscoevillage.com.
Up in Toledo, you can hop on the Canal Experience which showcases life along the Miami and Erie Canal in 1876. Providence Metropark sits where the canal town of Providence used to be. You can hop on the canal boat, The Volunteer, visit the Isaac Ludwig Mill, visit Lock #44, and chat with characters in period attire.
The canal boat runs through October, with various schedules depending on the month. Tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for children. Two and under are free, but you’ll still need to reserve tickets.
For more info, please visit metroparkstoledo.com.
Located in the quaint port town of Canal Fulton, the St. Helena III Canal Boat is pulled by two draft horses and departs from the Port of Canal Fulton in St. Helena Heritage Park for a one-hour ride down the Ohio & Erie Canal. While you’re cruising along, an onboard historian will provide info about the history of the canal, the boat, and more.
Tickets for a ride on St. Helena III will cost $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and veterans, and $5 for kids ages 6-17. The rides are weather permitting and canal boat rides can be canceled due to low water levels or flooding.
For more info, or to purchase tickets, visit cityofcanalfulton-oh.gov.
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