Buckeye Snapshots

Remnants of the towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal near the community of Groveport. Along the right side of the path, the canal channel is overgrown with trees. Ironically, an active railroad track runs to the left of the path.

This is the inaugural post of a new feature here at Big Sky Buckeye.  Every couple of months or so different snapshots about the Buckeye State of Ohio will be presented.

This famous song has been sung by young school children in America since the early 1900s.  Perhaps a few readers remember singing these familiar lyrics:

I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

She’s a good old worker and a good old pal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

The “Erie Canal Song” serves as an introduction to the Ohio and Erie Canal, which connected Lake Erie (along Ohio’s northern border) with the Ohio River (along its southern flank). 

The canal was constructed years before railroads would arrive so it provided an effective and cheaper way to ship business products and agricultural goods over longer distances.

Leaving Lake Erie near Cleveland, the canal ran through a series of valleys which dot much of the eastern and central part of the state.  Covering a total of 308 miles, the canal proceeded through the river valleys of Cuyahoga, Muskingum, Licking, and Scioto.  Once it reached the Scioto River south of present-day Columbus, barge traffic used the Scioto River on its way to Portsmouth on the Ohio River.

The canal was constructed between 1825 and 1832 (the Erie Canal was finished in 1825).  Construction costs ran about $10,000 per mile.

By the 1850s, railroads arrived upon the scene, and their efficiency and lower costs brought about the eventual demise and decline of the canal systems in Ohio and other regions of the nation.

There is significant evidence of the canal today across many areas of Ohio.  A curious traveler should be on the lookout for:


The route of the Ohio and Erie Canal can be traced from northeastern Ohio (at Lake Erie) through central Ohio southward toward the Ohio River.


In the village park at Lockville are a series of locks. Pictured is Lock #13, which is in the best shape. Locks were used to raise or lower the boat as needed due to changes in elevation along the canal route.
This well-preserved lock is found near the Groveport Recreational Center. Lock #22 is easy to find along Groveport Road.

There are numerous websites with additional information.  If one searches for “Ohio and Erie Canal,” much more information is available as well as interesting destinations along the former route of the canal.  There are numerous locations with additional locks, towpaths, and former canal channels.  Many places offer parks, walking and hiking trails, and canoeing.

19 thoughts on “Buckeye Snapshots

  1. By the time I read ‘towpath’ and ‘Erie Canal,’ I was singing the song. It’s amazing how much history we learned through song when we were kids — those songs were a fun way to get us “into” a subject. I enjoyed this — both the text and the photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah yes, I remember the song well. We sang it with my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Horwedel, who was from Oklahoma. She brought a rich variety of US history with her to CA and taught us lasting lessons with the help of music. It sticks with you, doesn’t it? Your pictures added to my history lesson. Thank you, Richard. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve not heard of the song – I guess it’s more of an Ohio song?

    Did the route pass close to the Cleveland area at all? If so, perhaps next time we visit our son we can check out some of these artifacts…

    Liked by 1 person

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