Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal
Transportation canals in the United states helped connect isolated rural areas to urban population centers. The golden age of historic transportation canals was from 1820 until railroads began to replace canals in the 1850s. Settlers flooded into regions serviced by such canals and the waterways they connected because they could use the waterways to sell their agricultural products and obtain manufactured goods. The Erie Canal connected New York City to the Great Lakes. The Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River system. The short two mile Louisville and Portland Canal by-passed some waterfalls to make the entire length of the Ohio River from the Mississippi River to Pittsburgh available to boats or rafts. Pennsylvania combined canals and railroads. New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, and Indiana also built canals that were enticing to settlers.
Pennsylvania and Ohio Creation
In Warren, Ohio, at a convention held on November 13, 1833, 109 delegates decided to privately fund the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal as neither state felt it should spend money on a canal that led to another state. Construction began on September 17, 1835, when the two engineers of the canal struck iron stakes in the ground at the center of what was known as the "Portage Summit" between what is now Kent, Ohio, and Ravenna. Workers manually dug the 82 miles (132 km) of the P & O using picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows. It ran from New Castle, Pennsylvania, to Akron, Ohio, meeting the Ohio and Erie Canal in downtown Akron.[ It ran along old Native American trails and the Cuyahoga and Mahoning Rivers. In Northeast Ohio, Lake Pippen and Brady Lake were water sources for the canal. Large celebrations occurred along the canal's route when it officially opened on August 4, 1840
Understanding the transportation systems available to ancestors can help genealogists better guess their place of origin. Connect the place where an ancestor settled to the nearby canals, waterways, trails, roads, and railroads to look for connections to places they may have lived previously.
Possible records to search for those who traveled these routes:
- Wikipedia contributors, "Canal" in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canals (accessed 22 June 2009).
- Wikipedia contributors, "Pennsylvania_and_Ohio_Canal" in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_and_Ohio_Canal (accessed 6 July 2015).