“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Celina in Mercer County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Grand Lake St. Marys

Grand Lake St. Marys Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, May 18, 2019
1. Grand Lake St. Marys Marker
Inscription.  Whats with the name? This lake has been known under different names. When it was first constructed as the Grand Reservoir for the Miami-Erie Canal. Location of that during construction to the local residents may called it something else not as complimentary. Later on as the lake connection and economic asset, it was later called St. Marys, Lake Mercer or Grand Lake depending on which end of the lake you were. Currently the lake's name has served on Grand Lake St. Marys. This does not keep inhabitants of either end from shore, the name to suit their bias.

How it came about? In 1820, New York Governor De Witt Clinton, who was a leader in the successful implementation on New York's Erie Canal, contacted Ohio Governor Ethan Allen Brown about a canal system in Ohio. Ohio's leaders say the canal system as a profitable way to connect Lake Erie and the Ohio River. The canal would fill the need for transportation system surrounding access to the interior of Ohio. It would allow immigrants access to develop the untamed lands and it was seen as a means to further the growing farm based economy and bring its products to city markets. Potential

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canal routes were surveyed through Ohio. The first canal, the Ohio Canal was initiated July 4, 1825 in Licking County. The Miami Canal was built from Cincinnati to Middletown, and was extended to Dayton by 1837. The Miami & Erie Canal came into existence as an extension of the Miami Canal to Lake Erie. A system of feeder reservoirs were renders to maintain water levels of the canal as it was extended north of Dayton. The Construction of Grand Reservoir, necessary for maintaining the canal north to the Maumee River area near Lake Erie, is estimated to have begun in 1837. There are poor records as to the actual commencement of the construction.

State and private money was used to finance the building of the canal system. With the completion of the east bulkhead in 1845 the reservoir was considered complete at a cost of approximately $529,000. The canal system never did become a profitable investment.

How big is it? Historic data states that the reservoir, when it was constructed, was 17,000 acres in size. Currently, it is estimated at 13,500 acres, It is 8.33 miles long, east to west, and 3.79 miles wide at its widest. It has over 40 miles of shoreline, Its average depth is 8 feet, When it was created in the 1840's, it was the largest man made lake in the world. It held that distinction well into this century until the creation of this country's large hydro

Grand Lake St. Marys Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, May 18, 2019
2. Grand Lake St. Marys Marker
electric dam projects. A point of interest is that the lake is created by embankments at both ends making it one of a few large, lakes in the world created by double dams.

How was it built? In the 1840's moving large amounts of ground was a hard time consuming process. Everything had to be dug by hand or by use of a scoop pulled by horses, mules or oxen. The lake was built by taking advantage of the lay of the land. The surveyors found this area, a low poorly drained swamp, near to the canal route. They saw that if the east and west ends of this natural low area were built up, they could impound enough water to supply the canal. They settled on a plan to build the existing embankments with a spillway on the west bank and a bulkhead on the east bank. The land between was to be cleared and Coldwater Creek was diverted into the reservoir. The existing loamy soil under the impediment structures was removed until they found clay and then the levee structures were built up using clay that was hauled in. The process of canal building had given the builders the necessary experience to use clay. It is estimated that upwards of 1500 men were used to construct the reservoir. Most of the workers were German and Irish immigrants, many of whom settled in the surrounding area.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels

Grand Lake St. Marys Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, May 18, 2019
3. Grand Lake St. Marys Marker
. In addition, it is included in the The Miami & Erie Canal series list. A significant historical date for this entry is July 4, 1825.
Location. 40° 32.639′ N, 84° 34.263′ W. Marker is in Celina, Ohio, in Mercer County. Marker is on S. Main Street (U.S. 127), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Celina OH 45822, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Points Of Intrest In Mercer And Auglaize Counties (here, next to this marker); Geologic History (here, next to this marker); Lake Improvments (here, next to this marker); Mercer County Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Grand Lake St. Marys Points Of Interest (within shouting distance of this marker); Celina City Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Prehistoric Indians / Historic Indians (within shouting distance of this marker); Early Mercer County History (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Celina.
Grand Lake St. Marys Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, May 18, 2019
4. Grand Lake St. Marys Marker
Credits. This page was last revised on February 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 9, 2021, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 705 times since then and 65 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on February 9, 2021, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 17, 2024