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Ifinii Rhtorical Survsy 






The newly settled lands in western New York, Ohio, and Indiana 
included much choice agricultural land. After the forests were cleared 
this virgin soil produced abundant crops. The only natural highways of 
commerce were the Great Lakes and the Ohio River. Agricultural areas 
not adjacent to these waters were without access to the markets of the East 
where products of forest and farm were marketable. The new settlers, in 
spite of the lush production of the new lands, could see little promise for 
this western country until arteries of commerce existed for the transit of 
their goods to market and for the shipment of the coveted eastern manu- 
factured goods to the settlers on the western frontier. Before the building 
of the steam railroads the hopes of the western settlers lay in the con- 
struction of water canals. An object lesson for them was the canal system 
built in England beginning about 1760 to facilitate the shipment of coal from 
the newly-opened coal mines to the markets. Many settlers on the western 
frontier had observed these barge canals in operation, and they saw therein 
the solution of their own transportation problem. 

In Indiana, a comprehensive network of canals was projected to 
be constructed at state expense. The earliest of these, the Wabash-Erie 
Canal, was to be a cooperative enterprise with the State of Ohio; an agree- 
ment was concluded between these two states in 1829. The Canal was to 
extend from Lake Erie along the Maumee and Wabash Rivers to the Ohio 
River, Indiana sold state lands and oorrowed $200, 000. In 1832 excava- 

tion of the Canal was begun. In 1834 the government allotted 29,528.78 
acres of land in Indiana for canal purposes. Meanwhile, Ohio delayed build- 
ing from the state line eastward for afew years, but eventually finished her 
portion of the Canal in 1843. The State of Indiana, with a total wealth of no 
more than $80, 000, 000, appropriated $13, 000, 000 to comiplete the Wabash - 
Erie Canal and other canals of the network as well as certain turnpikes. 
These lavish appropriations were in part dissipated by incompetence, mis- 
management and worse. The panic of 1837 and the ensuing business de- 
pression, as well as construction factors, greatly disturbed the enter- 
prise. Partly as a consequence of these operations, in 1840 Indiana was 
on the verge of bankruptcy; soon afterwards the state bonds issued to fi- 
nance the transportation system were repudiated. This circumstance had 
afar-reaching influence upon Indiana government; the new Indiana Con- 
stitution, framed in 1851, expressly forbade the State to issue bonds for 
any purpose and required that sufficient funds be provided to defray costs 
before any improvement program was undertaken. 

The Erie Canal in New York, built between 1817 and 1825, connected 
Buffalo with Albany some 300 miles eastward and provided access to New 
York City and to ocean-going ships . It was financially successful and vast- 
ly benefited the interior of western New York. A comprehensive program 
of canal building followed in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, and eventually 
in Indiana. Some canals were built as state enterprises, others as pri- 
vate enterprises. None were so successful in their operations as the Erie 

By 1841 the Wabash-Erie Canal was in operation between Fort Wayne 
and LiOgansport. In 1853 the Canal was completed southwestward fronri 
Fort Wayne to the Ohio River. By that tinne its need had vanished because 
railroad building had begun. Thereafter, the Canal was utilized, if at all, 
for local transportation. However, during the period between 1832 and 1853, 
the Wabash-Erie Canal contributed increasingly to the prosperity of the 
Maumee Valley and the Upper Wabash Valley. It furnished to the inhabit- 
ants of those areas their only means of transportation to and from the mar- 
kets of the East. 

Jesse Lynch Williams of Fort Wayne, born in 1807, became the 
chief engineer of the Canal in 1832. For forty years thereafter he was ac- 
tive in the history of public works in Fort Wayne and the West. The first 
contract for canal construction in this area was awarded to William Rockhill , 
a public-spirited man, who had migrated to Fort Wayne from New Jersey. 
He had entered a large trace of land (now known as the Rockhill Additions) 
in the western portion of the present city. His most notable early venture 
was the building of the Rockhill House, which once stood on the present 
site of St. Joseph Hospital. Jesse Vermilyea was another prominent canal 
contractor; he had moved from his native New York in the early 1820's 
to Fort Wayne, where he had accumulated a fortune in farming and trad- 
ing with the Indians. Vermilyea, like others of these early contractors, 
was a man of ability and public spirit, as is evidenced by the fact that he 
was an original director of the Fort Wayne Branch Bank. Contracts award- 
ed to him were for canal construction on the summit section. In his later 

life he conducted the famous Vermilyea House on the Canal about fourteen 
nniles southwest of Fort Wayne. 

The first ground was broken for the Canal at Fort Wayne on Febru- 
ary 22, 1832. Washington's birthday anniversary was selected because the 
Father of his Country was regarded as the progenitor of all of the western 
canal schemes. Fort Wayne, then a village of 300 souls, turned out for 
the event at a mass nneeting held at the Masonic Hall. Henry Rudisill pre- 
sided; David Colerick served as secretary. Hugh Hanna was nnarshall, and 
the people, headed by two musicians, marched to Bloomingdale. Here 
Judge Charles W. Ewing delivered a thrilling address. Judge Hanna and 
Captain Murray of Huntington each threw out a spadeful of earth. A parade 
thenformed and marched back to town. That evening there was a spectacu- 
lar parade and a monster bonfire; the windows of business buildings and 
homes glowed with lighted candles. Louis Peltier furnished a beautifully 
illuminated float representing a canal boat. 

Little progress in construction was made during the first year. 
Local interest, however, ran high, and meetings were held along the line 
to promote the rapid building of the Canal. Committees worked to secure 
legislative action for additional surveys. The scarcity of good building 
material in Allen County for the locks and waterways proved the greatest 
obstacle. By 1854 work had progressed rapidly and on May 1, 1834, a con- 
tract v/as let for the aqueduct across St. Mary's River at Fort Wayne. A 
small part of the Canal near Fort Wayne was con^pleted, and the first canal 
boat was launched. To celebrate the progress thus made, the entire popu- 










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iation of Fort Wayne was conveyed on a specially constructed barge to a 
point now identifiable with old Robison Park for a celebration. The first 
}>Z mile section from Fort Wayne to Huntington was opened on July 4, 1835. 
In the meantimie, it had become necessary to make another loan of $400, 000 
to continue the construction. 

The dam across the St. Joseph River near the site of Robison 
Park was one of the important "works" on the Canal; its building was an 
enormous undertaking for that time, for the only power available was that 
of men working with hand tools, horses, and mules. The wheelbarrow was 
tne chief tool for moving earth. The purpose of this dam was the creation 
of a lake to impound a water supply for the summit section. Water was 
introduced into the main line by means of a feeder canal. 

The dam, beg\in in 1832, was not finished until 1834; floods re- 
peatedly delayed its construction. When completed, the dam was a huge 
m.ass of forest trees, sand, and gravel; it rose 17 feet above the river bed 
and was 230 feet long between abutments. These abutments were 25 feet 
high, 20 feet wide, and 110 feet long. The total cost for construction of 
this dam was $15, 397. 

The aqueduct bridge conveying the canal waters over the St. Mary's 
River was located between the present West Main Street and the Nickel 
Plate Railroad bridges. It was 204 feet in length with a flume 17 1/2 feet 
in widtn and 6 feet in depth; 4 1/2 feet of water (500 tons) flowed through 
at a rate of 5 miles per hour. The structure was built of live oak, hand- 
hewn timbers, and was held together with hand-forged iron bolts; the flume 








was constructed of elm. The aqueduct was razed in 1883 when its flow of 
water was insufficient to operate the mill of its leaseholder, C. Tresselt 
& Sons . 

Memories of the aqueduct have been kept alive by a group of men 
who had swum in this aqueduct in their youth. In 1912 they banded together 
to form a club known as the Old Aqueduct Club. Three-hundred and seven- 
ty-nine men were listed as charter members ; although it is believed some 
530 boys had swum in the aqueduct. Membership required a birth date pre- 
ceeding 1872, certain residence limitations, and of course, swimming in 
the old aqueduct. The monument, erected on the south side of West Main 
Street, near the east bank of the St. Mary's River in Orff Park, was 
dedicated July 16, 1927; it commemorates the boys who swam in the aque- 
duct and is inscribed with the names of the charter members of the Old 
Aqueduct Club. 

To commemorate the further progress of construction another fete 
took place in Fort Wayne on July 4, 1836. This was indeed a glorious event. 
Thirty-three young belles represented the thirty-three states of the Union. 
There was a greatparade in which all the populace participated. The lead- 
ing address was made by Hugh McCulloch, later Secretary of the Treasury 
under three Presidents. The packet "Indiana", operated by Asa Fairfield, 
then made the voyage from Fort Wayne to Huntington bearing many dis- 
tinguished citizens. The select passenger list included Samuel Hanna, 
Allen Hamilton, Francis Comparet, William Rockhill, David Colerick, 
Samuel Edsall, W. G. Ewing, and W. S. Edsall. A writer of that day ob- 





The Old Aqueduct Memorial 

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served that there was "Dancing on board and drinking good whiskey- -even 
getting funny. " A ball was given in the evening at the tavern of Zenas 

The construction of the Ohio portion of the Canal was completed to 
Maumee Bay in 1843. In that year freight and passenger traffic was schedul- 
ed and conveyed from there to Lafayette. The Canal was formally dedi- 
cated on July 4, 1843. This date fell on Tuesday, but early guests began 
arriving in Fort Wayne on Saturday. By Sunday night the taverns were 
full. On Monday morning canal boats began to arrive and continued to land 
passengers throughout the night. A reception committee met each boat 
and conducted the guests to the homes where they were to stay during their 
visit. The Toledo Guards arrived Monday night. Senator Lewis Cass, a 
fornaer military governor of Fort Wayne, later a leading Michigan citizen 
and destined to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United 
States in 1848, delivered the leading addres s on July 4, 1843. He was enter- 
tained at the mansion of Allen Hamilton. 

Senator Cass arrived in Fort Wayne at 6 o'clock in the morning on 
an incoming canal boat from Toledo. The Senator, disembarking, courte- 
ously acknowledged the ovation of the crowd assembled to greet him. In ■ 
doing so, he stepped up the gangplank, lost his footing, and tumbled into 
the turbid canal waters. This unfortunate episode became a joke on a 
nation-wide scale and is said to have contributed to his defeat in his cam- 
paign for the Presidency in 1848. 

At sunrise a cannon, captured from a British ship on the occasion 

of Commodore Perry's victory on Lake Erie in 1813, was fired to greet the 
visitors. This cannon is now mounted in Hayden Park. The events of this 
historic day culminated in a banquet on the evening of July 4. Several United 
States Senators and governors were present. 

The practical difficulties encountered in building the Canal can be 
appreciated when one considers that the excavation of the Canal was done 
by pick, shovel, and wheelbarrow, without any modern labor-saving con- 
struction machinery. The sparse settlement of the area resulted in a labor 
shortage which the native farmers could not alleviate, for they were com- 
pelled to spend their energy cultivating their farms for two-thirds of the 
time that the weather permitted canal work. The only solution was to im- 
port laborers. Accordingly, agents were sent to New York State where it 
was rumored there was an abundance of workmen. These agents were in- 
structed to offer wages of thirteen dollars per month and to advance passage 
money. Under this arrangement hundreds of German and Irish laboring men 
were employed. 

An advertisementpublished in the Indiana Journal of August 4, 1832, 

We wish to employ laborers on the 

Wabash and Erie Canal, twelve miles 

west of Fort Wayne. 

The situation is healthy and dry. 

We will pay $10 per month for sober and 

industrious men. 

■J A '.ill 

Wages offered for labor in this advertisement is in accord with 
other prices of the time. An estimate of costs as given by the canal com- 
missioners in their report for 1830 follows: Labor at $8.00 per month, 
flour at $4. 00 per barrel, and bacon at five cents per pound. Total costs 
estimates for canal construction were based on figures far too low. The 
commissioners failed to anticipate that the scarcity of labor would increase 
its cost and that the increased demand for provisions would also increase 
costs . 

Labor camps and food supplies had to be provided for the newly- 
recruited labor force. Movement of equipment was a time -consuming task. 
The low, swampy ground west of Fort Wayne, with standing water most of 
the time, led to the belief that malaria was prevalent. Fear of the disease 
impelled many men to leave the camps, and absenteeism posed a serious 

Most of the Irish laborers were previously employed on the con- 
struction of canal projects in Pennsylvania, where bitter feelings between 
two factions, one known as "Corkonians" or "Corkers" and the other as 
"Fardowns, " had broken out. 

During the following year there were numerous individual and faction- 
al rows between the two groups. Antagonistic groups were often employed 
in different areas to prevent friction. It was not until August, 1835, that 
the disputes reached a point of serious trouble. In midmonth the two em- 
battled factions gathered near the Canal at Lagro, armed with spades, 
pick-axes, clubs, knives and every other form of weapon available. Their 


brawling shocked even the Miami Indians in the neighborhood. 

The battle between the two factions raged for several days ; finally, 
it was necessary to call on military authorities at Fort Wayne and Lafayette 
to send troops to halt the rioting. David Burr parleyed the, who had 
located in two good positions, until the militia arrived from Fort Wayne and 

More than 200 rioters were arrested by the soldiers and brought 
to Wabash, where they were kept under guard. Some of the minor leaders 
were tried in court there and found guilty. The real leaders, who had been 
charged with persistently causing trouble, were taken to Indianapolis for 
trial under military escort with Captain Elias Murray in charge of the de- 

"The only way to get the prisoners to Indianapolis, " said an old 
historical account, "was on foot through the woods. They set forth, the 
route being down the Wabash to Logansport and thence tb Indianapolis, At 
Logansport it was necessary to wade the river. The prisoners refused to 
wade, declaring they would die first. Captain Murray simply told his sol- 
diers to fix bayonets and charge. The charge was made and the prisoners 
rushed through the water to the opposite bank. The line then was formed 
with che prisoners in front and the journey to Indianapolis completed with- 
out further incident. " A majority of the ring leaders were given prison 

As the Canal crept steadily down the Wabash Valley from Fort Wayne 
to the mouth of the Tippecanoe, which was the head of navigation of the 


Wabash, a long line of barrack-like huts for the workers gradually moved 

The havoc wrought in the ranks of the Irish workers by malaria and 
cholera alnnost beggars description. It has been said that one Irishman 
died from disease on this project for each six feet of canal built. 

Whiskey seenned to be the one specific remedy for these deadly 
maladies and a Scotch "jigger boss" purveyed "redeye" to each gang of 
workmen. He carried a bucket of the libation and a tin cup. The worker 
exercised his own judgment as to the size and frequence of the dosage. In 
after years it was remarked to a former "jigger boss" that the workmen 
nnust have been drunk all of the time. He replied: "You wouldn't expect 
them to work on the Canal if they were sober, would you?" 

Many of these Irish canal workers settled in the communities along 
the Canal. Many of their descendants live today in Fort Wayne, Roanoke, 
Huntington, Lagro and Wabash. 

The canal project brought anew industry to Fort Wayne- -canal boat 
building. During these early years of the Canal, many packets and freight 
boats slipped down the ways. The first boat constructed in Fort Wayne was 
the "Indiana", built in 1834 by F. P. Tinkham. Canal boat building is a 
lost art. Very little remains of these old boats other than tradition and 
an occasional picture. 

The State of Ohio did not proceed as rapidly with the work of con- 
struction as did Indiana because of the scarcity of money and the sparse 
settlement of northwest Ohio. This delay was the cause of much impatience 

in Indiana because the Ohio extension was needed if the Canal was to ful- 
fill its function. Construction in Ohio, however, was under way in 1837. 
Two thousand workers were paid in Michigan wildcat currency. The fi- 
nancial crash of 1837 made it impossible to redeem these bills for five 
months. This caused work stoppages. Other difficulties were the high 
cost of labor, illnesses, and the high cost oi building inaterials and pro- 
visions. From Defiance westward there was a scarcity of stone for the 
building of locks. Wood was substituted. So heavy were expenses that 
almost all the credit and resources of Northwest Ohio were exhausted in 
the enterprise. Even so, in 1843 the contractors still were unpaid to the 
extent of $500, 000. 

By 1845 the United States government was able to use the Wabash- 
Erie Canal with the connective canal southward to transport soldiers to 
Cincinnati for service in the Mexican War. Comnnissioned officers were 
carried on packets and non-commissioned officers and privates on freight 
boats. Until 1856 these canals were recognized as part of the great nation- 
al military highway between New York and New Orleans. 

In 1838 the Canal earned from tolls only $1, 398- -scarcely enough 
to pay the salary of one canal commissioner. On the completion of the 
Ohio extension to Toledo, tolls then jumped in 1843 to $60, 000 for Indiana 
and $35, 000 for Ohio. In 1844 a disastrous flood closed it for two months . 

For a brief period beginning in 1844, the Wabash-Erie Canal pro- 
vided a fast packet service between Toledo and Fort Wayne, and after 18 19 
as far south as Lafayette. This service, operating on schedule, carried 

passengers and daily mail to the connnnunities along the Canal. 

Regular lines of boats started operation on the Canal and ran on 
definite schedules. In March, 1848, the following advertisement was pub- 


This line of new and splendid packet boats will start from Lafayette 
on Monday March 27, 1848 at 10 o'clock a.m. arriving at Fort Wayne at 
6 p.m. going east. The line at present consists of four boats. On the 
first of May there will be an addition of three new packets, forming a daily 
line between Covington, Indiana, and Toledo, Ohio. " 

The "Ohio, " "Indiana," "Illinois, " and "Missouri " were the names 
of these boats. Another interesting notice appeared at the same time. It 
offered service to Cincinnati in the following terms: 







In 1856 the Canal was open from Toledo to Evansville- -a total dis- 
tance of 452 miles; it was then the longest artificial waterway in the United 
States. After I860 the section of the Canal south of Terre Haute was 

no longer used. In 1875 the last portion open to operation was in the neighbor- 
hood of Lafayette, and it was discontinued in that year. That part of the 
Canal between Fort Wayne and New Haven was used as late as 1878 for the 
transportation of firewood into Fort Wayne. 

The period 1847 to 1856 may be regarded as the heyday of the Canal. 
Until 1853 there was a steady increase in the income from tolls and water 
rents and a decreasing annual average cost of repairs and maintenance. 
The tolls and rents reached $193,400. 18 in 1852--the highest amount re- 
ceived from this source. After that date the income steadily decreased. 

The packet or express passenger fares approximated 3 cents per 
mile. The fare from Fort Wayne to Toledo (104 miles) was $3.25, to 
Lafayette (104 miles) was $3. 75, and to Cincinnati (221 miles) was $6. 75 . 
The larger and better-class packets were brought from the Erie Canal and 
carried as many as sixty passengers. 

Contemporary advertisements boast of the best accommodations: 
staterooms, singlebeds, and unsurpassed comforts . First-class passenger 
sleeping berths were arranged in two rows, one above the other; and some 
could be folded into a small space when not in use. Captains always took 
great pride in their boats ; they felt a personal interest in the safety of their 
passengers and cargoes of freight, A number of Fort Wayne streets were 
named for captains of the canal boat era. Ballast for the boats was usually 
stone. Old tombstones in country cemeteries in the area were transported 
here in that manner. 

The number of horses or mules, fronn two to six, employed in 

drawing the packet depended upon its size. The animals traveled at a trot, 
the driver riding on the left rear steed, and apace of two to eight miles per 
hour was maintained. Sometimes relay horses were carried on the freight 
boats, but usually the horses were stationed at regular or convenient posts 
about ten miles apart. Bears frequently emerged from the fringe of the 
woods east of Fort Wayne, frightened the mules and added to the woes of 
the drivers. 

As a packet approached a landing one of the crew sounded a tin 
horn. Villagers flocked to the Canal to see the passengers and to pick up 
news and rumors from neighboring or distant communities. One company, 
Doyle's Packet Line, operated fifteen boats and owned three hundred and 
fifty tow horses. The boats were drawn by a 3 inch hemp rope 150 to 250 
feet long. A typical packet crew comprised the following: captain, steward 
(who enjoyed all of the profits of the bar), pantryman, cook, chambermaid, 
two cabin boys and two steersmien. The showboat "Dixie Boys Minstrel" 
brought entertainment to residents along the Indiana portion of the Canal. 
It seated 100 persons and several performances were given each evening. 
Tne admission was only 25 cents. 

In the three years following the completion of the Canal between 
Fort Wayne and Huntington, five new counties were organized: Whitley, 
Adams, Wells, Wabash, and Howard. In 1851 there were in operation on 
the Canal nine flouring mills, eight sawmills, two oil nnills, and one iron 
blowery and forge. 

Long trains of wagons, waiting by the hour at Fort Wayne for their 


















































turn to unload iarmproducts into canal boats, were a common sight. Large 
storehouses were erected in FortWa^Tie to house farm and factory products 
during the frozen season pending resumption of canal traffic. 

One of Fort Wayne's historic buildings associated with canal days 
still endures in the yellow stone edifice, located on Superior Street between 
Calhoun and Clinton Streets . This year marks the centennial of the building, 
for it was erected in 1852 on Water Street (since renamed Superior Street) 
and fronted on the old Canal. It is believed that the old structure probably 
served as a canal office and depot in its early days. 

Several very fine residences were built in Fort Wa-yne during canal 
days. Travelers remarked on the beautiful sight of the brilliantly lighted 
windows of these homes greeting them as they entered town. Both the 
Hanna Homestead on East Lewis Street and the McCulloch residence on 
West Superior Street were imposing structures situated m spacious grounds. 

The town itself was not of an imposing character. At best, it would 
have to be described as straggling and unkept. Muddy streets were the 
rule in wet weather. The shops were unattractive, for they were housed in 
dark, dingy rooms with doors protected by board awnings. Court House 
Square did not include a single imposing building until nearly the end of 
canal days. 

Fort Wayne's citizens in the days of the Canal were much like the 
people of other towns of the day. The newspapers published accounts of 
parties, balls, musicales, weddings, visitors, swindlers, thefts, murders, 
and a variety of other items. There were lavish, expensive parties indi- 

Stone building on East Superior Street, thought to have been a canal depot 
or office. 

eating personal pride and social ambition. On the other extreme, there 
were drunken brawls indicating the presence of rowdyism and debauchery. 
Fort Wayne was pictured as a town of fine linens and laces as well as rags 
and calico. 

A busy commerce sprang up along the canal front from Calhoun to 
Lafayette Street. Dealers in all kinds of merchandise were constantly 
announcing their wares. The dock was constructed along the south bank 
of the Canal and served as a fashionable promenade as well as a dock. 
Buildings were constructed facing this dock, and even today a water-front 
appearance is discernible from the north. "Not xintil the day of the rail- 
roads did commerce begin to forsake the old water way, and then the city 
passed forever from an interesting era that people love to chat about," 

A list of articles and anaounts of produce that were handled at the 
Fort Wayne station during the year 1848 indicates something of the nature 
of this commerce. The list is given in fxill: 

Miles of boats run 463, 575 Barrels of lime 6, 752 

Miles of passengers 1, 357, 364 Barrels of pork 28, 677 

Barrels of flour 78, 856 Pounds of lard 3, 332, 101 

Bushels of wheat 957, 395 Pounds of bacon 2, 293, 471 

Bushels of corn 1, 005, 640 Povinds of live hogs 56, 870 

Bushels of oats 67, 389 Pounds of beef and tallow. . . l6, 188 

Bushels of rye 904 Lbs. of hair and bristles. . . .75, 145 

Bushels of barley 2, 638 Lbs. of deer and coon skin. . 38, 377 

Bushels of seeds 14, 300 Lbs. of feathers 9, 157 

Bushels of beans 127 Lbs. of wool 88, 074 

Bushels of mineral coal 28, 300 Lbs. of cranberries 534, 055 

Barrels of whiskey 5, 977 Lbs. of merchandise 8, 583, 048 

Barrels of salt 75, 878 Lbs. of sugar, molasses. 1, 387, 892 

Barrels of fish 1, 488 Lbs. of coffee 1, 575, 642 

Barrels of oil 316 Lbs. of tobacco 586, 139 

Lbs. of white lead, etc. . . . 565, 740 Lbs. of iron nails 3, 446, 072 

Lbs. of furniture 1, 196, 942 Lbs. of agr. implements. . . . 99, 241 

Lbs. of wood ware 108, 397 Lbs. marble mill stones. . . 634, 987 

Lbs. of butter 174, 852 Lbs. of cheese 134, 031 

Lbs. of hides 45,999 Lbs. of pearl pot ashes .... 481, 817 

Lbs. of staves, hoops, and poles 1, 054, 468 

Cords of wood 7, 975 Perches of stone 14, 607 

Feet of lumber 3, 323, 015 Number of laths 103, 000 

Thousands of shingles 6, 569 Feet of timber 34, 322 

Nunnber of posts and rails 11,015 

Kegs of beer 832 Lbs. of stoneware ICl, 787 

Lbs. of leather 247, 304 Lbs. of misc 3, 668, 848 

Lbs. of beeswax 46, 443 Lbs. of saleratus 70, 603 

The total tonnage for the year was only 157, 831, which does not 
seem large for this day. However, the population in 1850 was only about 
10, 000. 

On the Maumee River between Fort Wayne and Toledo was a series 


of overlapping "dream" towns whose bursting booms punctuated the panic 
of 1837 when oats sold for 10 cents per bushel, chickens at 50 cents adozen 
and fat cattle at $10 to $12 a head. Normal conditions were not restored 
until 1841. 

Certain defects in the Canal as a means of transportation turned the 
tide of opinion against it. The season of navigation was limited to less 
than eight months. Storms and floods interfered still further, and inter- 
ruptions varying from a fortnight to two months were common events . Thus, 
products of farm and factory were too often forced to lie for weeks tied 
up in shallow water or stopped by a broken embankment. The Canal had 
in the first place stimulated enterprises, and now, growing stronger, these 
demanded better facilities. As a result, dissatisfaction with the Canal in- 
creased because of its inability to cope with business needs. The newspapers 
abounded in complaints of this character and with items describing "boats 
which scraped through" and "boats aground. " In 1847 Mr. Butler, presi- 
dent of the Board of Trustees of the Wabash-Erie Canal, estimated that 
the income of the Canal would increase each year until it equalled $500, 000 
and would maintain that annual figure for future years. The extent of the 
error is best shown by the fact that in 1847, when the prophets believed 
that the income would equal a half million dollars, the actual receipts were 
$7, 179. 61. 

As it became apparent that the Canal was failing to meet the business 
demands of the Wabash Valley, capitalists from the East began construction 
of the Wabash Railroad, paralleling the Canal. The new railroad was com- 

pleted from Toledo to Lafayette via Fort Wayne in June, 1856. Soon there- 
after, all passenger traffic on the Canal ceased, and the railroad even ab- 
sorbed a major portion of the freight business. The Wabash Railroad dealt 
the death blow to the Wabash- Erie Canal, 

After the Civil War an attempt was made by holders of Indiana bonds, 
issued between 1832 and 1842, to finance the completion of the Canal, in 
order to secure the payment of these old obligations. Public sentiment in 
the State was so aroused that a constitutional amendment to the State Con- 
stitution was ratified in 1873 forbidding any recognition of Indiana's lia- 
bility for payment of canal bonds. 

Thereafter, bondholders brought suit to sell the canal right-of-way 
in partial settlement of claims. The court so decreed, and it was sold in 
sections. The section from the Ohio boundary through Fort Wayne to the 
lower locks at Lagro in Wabash County was sold to William Fleming of Fort 
Wayne for $44, 500. After the sale of the right-of-way and feeder canal 
to Mr. Fleming, the Canal figured much in some hot municipal political 
fights in Fort Wa^-ne. One oi these contests occurred in 1881 when the 
owners of the feeder canal sought to sell it to the city to be used as a means 
of conveying the city water supply. In 1881 the canal right-of-way was 
bought by the New York and Pennsylvania Railroad. The last canal boat 
afloat within Fort Wayne settled in sticky mud, as the water was drained 
from the Canal in 1882 to permit the filling of the channel to provide a road- 
bed for the ties and rails. The railroad paid $137, 000 for the property. 
This is nov/ the route of the Nickel Plate Railroad through Fort Wayne. 



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