The Wabash and Erie Canal provided traders with access from the Great Lakes to the Ohio River; 460 miles long, it was the longest canal ever built in North America. The waterway was a combination of four canals: the Miami and Erie, the original Wabash and Erie from Junction to Terre Haute, Indiana, the Cross-Cut Canal from Terre Haute to Point Commerce, and the Central Canal from Worthington to Evansville.
The Interpretive Center is an open-air village located on the banks of the canal in Delphi, Indiana. The interpretive center includes a model canal with a miniature reservoir, aqueduct, lock, and gristmill. The model canal boat General Grant shows the type of boats that carried freight on the canal during its final years of full-scale operation from the 1860s to 1874.
The Wabash & Erie Canal Association is dedicated to Indiana’s canal heritage. The center serves as a physical focus of a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) segment of the canal that has been rebuilt and reopened as a waterway and parallel towpath.
The Story of Mobility in America
Maritime Museums in Historic Towns
Travel along the canal was accomplished by canal freight and passenger packets. The passenger packet consisted of a series of rooms and a main saloon where meals were taken. This room was converted into a men’s dorm for sleeping. The women’s saloon was towards the back of the boat.
The Packets were Pulled by Horses and Oxen
Canal Operations began in the summer of 1843; the banks rapidly eroded, and the canal had to be constantly dredged to be operable. The right-of-way through Fort Wayne was purchased by the New York, Chicago and Lake Erie Railway which ran from Buffalo to Chicago. This allowed the railway to run straight through the heart of a major midwestern city without razing a single home. The canal right-of-way was also directly adjacent to downtown, which made the new railway quite convenient for passengers and businesses.
The Route from Toledo on Lake Erie to Fort Wayne. From here, it follows the historic Indian portage to the Wabash River, then heads downstream to Delphi and, using several other riverways, it reaches the Ohio River.
Connect for Travel on the Wabash and Erie Canal