Thursday, May 8, 2003

Ohio Moments


State's canals fueled industry, provided jobs

On May 8, 1861, an act was passed that privatized administration of Ohio's canals, which dated to the 1820s. Beginning in June, the canal system was leased to private companies for $20,075 a year.

In 1877, the state took over again. By that time, the 1,000 miles of canals had deteriorated and many portions had been abandoned. Parts of the canals were sold and the beds converted to railroads.

The following year, the General Assembly debated whether to close or repair the canals. By that time, railroads were handling most of the state's transportation of goods, but the water along the canals was sold to industrial companies. A resolution from the Cleveland council stated that 600 miles of canals were lined with industry representing more than $100 million and employing 50,000 people. So Ohio's canals remained open.

The final blow came when the great flood of 1913 devastated all the canals in the state.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail rgoodman@enquirer.com or call (513) 768-8361.




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