Wabash and Erie Canal was a waterway, stretching up to 468 miles from Toledo, Ohio to Evansville, Indiana.
The canal was instrumental in the growth of the State of Indiana. The main goal behind the construction
of the canal was to link the navigable water of the Maumee River with the Wabash through the seven mile
portage at Fort Wayne. When fully completed, the canal was truly an engineering marvel with 18 major
People built towns in the place where there had once been swamp, forests and tall grass prairie.
In 1827, the Congress provided a land grant to build the canal. Accordingly, on February 22, 1832,
on the 100th anniversary of George Washington's birthday, the ground was broken for the canal,
which would link Lake Erle at Toledo with the Ohio River at Evansville. That date was chosen
because George Washington was credited with the suggestion of a canal trough this region. The
first section of the canal, connecting Fort Wayne with Huntington, was completed in 1835.
On realizing that the Wabash was not navigable above Lafayette, the canal was extended west,
reaching the Tippecanoe River, in 1839. It reached Logansport in 1838 and Delphi in 1840. Later,
it was discovered that the Maumee River did not provide a reliable route east of Fort Wayne.
As a result, construction began on the east in 1842 and in 1844, the link between Fort Wayne
and the Ohio Canal was completed.
In the late 1840s, the canal was extended south through the Cross-Cut Canal works to Worthington.
Through a second federal land grant, the canal reached Terre Haute in 1849. In 1853, the Evansville
segment was completed, providing easy and rapid travel for incoming settlers and a convenient way
for moving their agricultural and other products.
The canal known as the Wabash & Erie in the 1850s and thereafter, was actually a combination of
four canals: the Miami and Erie Canal from the Maumee River near Toledo, Ohio to Junction, Ohio,
the original Wabash and Erie Canal from Junction to Terre Haute, Indiana, the Cross Cut Canal from
Terre Haute, Indiana to Worthington, Indiana (Point Commerce), and the Central Canal from Worthington
to Evansville, Indiana.
In 1824, the Indiana General Assembly established Allen County, and the 1830's brought about the construction
of the Wabash and Erie Canal in Fort Wayne. This famous canal earned Fort Wayne the nickname "Summit City"
because it was the highest point above sea level along the entire canal route.
Years later, with the advent of the railroad, Fort Wayne held a key position in the great Pennsylvania Railroad
and soon become known as the "Altoona of the West." As the 1800's drew to a close, industry in Fort Wayne
continued to flourish as immigrants poured into the area seeking jobs .
The Wabash and Erie Canal was a shipping canal that linked the Great Lakes to the Ohio River via an artificial waterway. The canal provided traders with access from the Great Lakes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.... Until the railroads arrived and Fort Wayne Indian was in the middle of it all !
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