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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Evansville in Vanderburgh County, Indiana — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

The Short Lived Canal

 
 
Full View - - The Short Lived Canal Marker image. Click for full size.
By Courtesy:: Marilyn S. Wolf, October 1, 2011
1. Full View - - The Short Lived Canal Marker
Inscription. On March 2, 1827, Congress provided a land grant to encourage Indiana to build the Wabash & Erie Canal. The original plan was to link the navigable water of the Maumee with the Wabash through the seven mile portage at Fort Wayne. Work began five years later and proceeded west, reaching Huntington by 1835, Logansport in 1838 and Lafayette in 1841. Work was also performed east toward the Ohio line, but the canal did not reach Toledo until 1843. A second federal land grant enabled the completion of the canal to Terre Haute by 1849. At Evansville, 20 miles of the Central Canal had been completed north by 1839. The two canal projects were united in 1847 and bore the name Wabash and Erie.

The W&E was extended south in the late 1840's through the abandoned cross-cut canal works to Worthington and then south following the old proposed Central Canal route. The Wabash and Erie Canal was completed to Lamasco, a separate settlement to the west of Evansville, in 1853. Though fully operational for only a short seven-year period, the 468-mile-long canal drew national attention to the Evansville area and spurred a rapid increase in population and wealth in the 1850's.

The canal in Evansville included a basin used for turning boats for return trips and docking facilities for loading and unloading passengers and cargo.

The
Left Text - - The Short Lived Canal Marker image. Click for full size.
By Courtesy:: Marilyn S. Wolf, October 1, 2011
2. Left Text - - The Short Lived Canal Marker
canal was more than a mere transportation means. Canal water, channeled through races, turned water wheels powering factories and mills along the canalís route; communities and businesses paid rents to the state for the waterís use. Local people used the canal to bathe and to wash clothes.

Recognized as the longest canal in the United States, this gigantic enterprise was doomed to failure by the growing presence of railroads. The canalís official demise was in 1873. Basins and other sections of the canal profile were filled.

In the 1880's the leaders of Vanderburgh County recognized the need for a new courthouse. The site chosen was the Union Block in Evansville, the location of the drained Wabash and Erie Canal Basin.

The Courthouse, designed by Henry Wolters of Louisville, Kentucky, and completed in 1891, is a massive edifice, proudly displaying the finest Indiana limestone. The main rectangular building is symmetrically balanced, with a broad pavilion projecting from each of the long sides. A soaring dome crowns the building at the crossing point of the pavilions and the axis of the main building. The ornate decorations of the exterior are reflective of the equally ornate and rich treatment of the interior.

Vanderburgh County was one of ten Indiana counties with large Irish populations. Next to German-Americans in Evansville, they
Left - Marker Photo image. Click for full size.
By Courtesy:: Marilyn S. Wolf, October 1, 2011
3. Left - Marker Photo
constituted the largest group of foreign-born residents in the community. Some arrived in Evansville by virtue of laboring on the canal, and others arrived through normal immigration patterns - - that is by answering the summons of friends or relatives who preceded them. The peak period of Irish immigration in the Evansville area was between 1850 and 1880. Irish immigrants and oxen provided mot of the labor committed to digging the Wabash and Erie Canal.

By the way:
The passenger packet Pennsylvania was the first boat to reach Evansville from Lake Erie, via the canal, September 23, 1853.

 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Wabash & Erie Canal marker series.
 
Location. 37° 58.406′ N, 87° 34.342′ W. Marker is in Evansville, Indiana, in Vanderburgh County. Marker is at the intersection of NW 4th Street and Vine Street, on the right when traveling north on NW 4th Street. Touch for map. Located on the South/West (side-walk) corner of the Vanderburgh County "Old Courthouse" (a.k.a.: The Olde' Courthouse - - Catacombs) in Evansville, Indiana. Marker is in this post office area: Evansville IN 47708, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Vanderburgh County World War I Honor Roll (here, next to this marker);
Right Text - - A Rocky Beginning Marker image. Click for full size.
By Courtesy:: Marilyn S. Wolf, October 1, 2011
4. Right Text - - A Rocky Beginning Marker
Sheriff's Residence and Jail (within shouting distance of this marker); Vanderburgh County World War II Honor Roll (within shouting distance of this marker); Wabash and Erie Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); McCurdy - Sears Building (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ohio River Levee (approx. 0.4 miles away); Civil War Camp (approx. half a mile away); Augustus Owsley Stanley (approx. 8.9 miles away in Kentucky). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Evansville.
 
Also see . . .
1. "The men who dug the Canal" ::. A light and lively song with many old photos of canal builders in the process of digging a canal. (Submitted on October 13, 2011, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

2. "Angel of the Canal" ::. Many fell ill digging canals. In frontier days there were few doctors and medicine was scarce. In the Brecksville, Ohio area Mrs. Johnson became known as the "Angel of the Canal" for her care of the ill. (Submitted on October 13, 2011, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

3. Video (Two Parts) - - "An Evansville Treasure . . ." (Courtesy -- "Feel The History") ::
Wide View - - The Short Lived Canal Marker image. Click for full size.
By Courtesy:: Marilyn S. Wolf, October 1, 2011
5. Wide View - - The Short Lived Canal Marker
. (Submitted on December 13, 2012, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceMan-Made FeaturesSettlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels
 
North Side - - "Old" Vanderburgh County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
By Courtesy:: Marilyn S. Wolf, October 1, 2011
6. North Side - - "Old" Vanderburgh County Courthouse
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 13, 2011, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 449 times since then and 44 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 13, 2011, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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