TwHP Lessons

The Ohio & Erie Canal:
Catalyst of Economic Development
for Ohio

[Cover photo] The house at Lock 38.
(Cuyahoga Valley National Park)


ow bridge, everybody down! yells the canal boat captain. As they clear the bridge, his wife begins hanging her laundry from a rope tied on posts running between the cargo holds. Their smallest child sits tied to the deck, so she will not fall into the water and drown. The oldest son is the steersman. He must always compensate for the sideward pull of the mule team that plods along the edge of the canal tugging on ropes attached to the boat. The mule skinner walks silently with the mules, making sure they do not sit down on the job. This boat is the family business--their livelihood--and their home.

Gliding gracefully along the Ohio & Erie Canal, the boat is heavily laden with lumber on its way north to Lake Erie where it will be transferred to a lake freighter and sent to Buffalo and the Erie Canal. As the boat approaches a lock, the mule skinner prepares to unhitch the mules, and the crew grab their pikes, ready to push the boat into the lock. Inside the lock chamber the sluice gate on the downstream gate opens and the water slowly begins to drop eight feet. After "locking through," the crew again hitch the mules and continue on their way.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Canals of Ohio

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Ohio's Shot in the Arm
 2. Construction and Operation of the
 Ohio & Erie Canal

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Cross section of the Ohio & Erie Canal
 2. Parts of a lock gate
 3. Peninsula lock
 4. House at Lock 38, c. 1875
 5. Modern view of house at Lock 38
 6. Workers repairing the canal
 7. Wash day on the canal
 8. Canal boat family

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Life on the Ohio & Erie Canal
 2. The Effects of Transportation on Daily Life
 3. The Importance of Transportation Systems

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Cuyahoga Valley National Park

This lesson is based on the Ohio & Erie Canal, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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