I've run the entire 981 mile Ohio River in my boat in 8+/- trips, which included side trips up every navigable creek and river that feeds the Ohio.
That sounds like a lot of fun. I'm jealous.
Regarding the canal and it's impact upon the financial history of Indiana, I've always had a "tin foil hat" suspicion that sinister economic influences based in Indianapolis, (not wanting to be left out of the canal craze) were the main promoters citing a "need" for the W&E to be extended all the way to to the Ohio River.
The W&E extension from Terre Haute over to Worthington and then on south to the Ohio was entirely superfluous in terms of the needs of the W&E, since the Wabash River south of Terre Haute was navigable year round in it's own rite. The only useful purpose this could have served was to provide a connection for the contemplated but never built "Central Canal " that was intended to serve Indy.
Often wondered how the W&E canal operations might have better prospered had they not been burdened by the extra cost of that unneeded extension.