Near Spencerville in Allen County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Miami & Erie Canal Deep Cut / Miami & Erie Canal
Anthony Wayne Parkway
You are on that section of the Miami and Erie Canal where the greatest excavation was made – a section that has been known over the years as “Deep Cut.” The huge ditch, 6,600 feet long and 5 to 52 feet deep, was dug and blasted through the tough blue-clay ridge which separates the St. Marys watershed from that of the Auglaize.
Strong-muscled farm boys, brawny Irishmen, and sometimes convicts, sentenced to hard labor, toiled here with picks, shovels, and barrows, from sun-up to sun-down for 30 cents a day. They lived in shabby, unsanitary camps and were often ravaged by malaria and other diseases. Bad blood among the construction gangs and whisky, which “flowed like water,” led to frequent brawls.
Spencer Township, Allen County, where this marker is located, and Spencerville, just to the north, are both named in honor of Colonel William Spencer, member of the State Board of Public Works which had charge of Ohio’s canal system.
Miami & Erie Canal
This spot, not long ago, was the scene of bustling canal
Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York and Governor Jeremiah Morrow of Ohio removed the first earth for the canal, July 21, 1825, just below Middletown. By 1845, boats were plying the “Big Ditch” from Cincinnati to Toledo.
In traversing the 249-mile canal, boats had to be raised to the Loramie Summit, 512 feet above the Ohio River, and then lowered 395 feet to the Lake Erie level. To accomplish this, 108 stone and wooden locks were built. To supply the canal with a constant flow of water, 3 large reservoirs and many river dams were constructed.
At the peak of operation, 400 boats plied the canal, providing Ohio with badly needed transportation. Cascading waters at the locks made the wheels of hundreds of mills and factories hum. The country through which the canal passed changed from a wilderness to an agricultural paradise. By the early 1900’s, however, this colorful and profitable period had come to an end. The railroads had taken over.
Erected 1961 by Allen County Historical Society, in cooperation with, The Anthony Wayne Parkway Board.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed Industry & Commerce • Landmarks • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the National Historic Landmarks, and the The Miami & Erie Canal series lists.
Location. 40° 41.072′ N, 84° 21.931′ W. Marker is near Spencerville, Ohio, in Allen County. Marker is on Ohio Route 66 0.2 miles north of Deep Cut Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Spencerville OH 45887, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Spencerville Veterans Memorial (approx. 1.1 miles away); Miami – Erie Canal (approx. 1.6 miles away); "Johnny Appleseed" (approx. 4 miles away); The Town of Hartford (approx. 4.4 miles away); Bloody Bridge (approx. 4.7 miles away); Fort Amanda (approx. 5.1 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Amanda (approx. 5.1 miles away); Site of the 86 Acre Homestead of Dye Sunderland (approx. 5.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Spencerville.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 29, 2009, by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio. This page has been viewed 2,926 times since then and 52 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on September 29, 2009, by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.