Come immerse yourself in the period between the country's Jubilee and Centennial years, 1825 - 1876.
The Canal Era is a story of working people striving to realize the Founding Fathers' vision. Some prospered as businesses flourished along the watery interstate "highways" of the day. Immigrants and people of color struggled for work, greater freedom, and acceptance. Boats brought new consumer goods into the heartland and carried out raw materials. No longer reliant on homemade things, Americans became shoppers. During the Canal Era, the national identity and the national economy began to gel.
At Canal Exploration Center interactive maps and games, explore why a growing nation needed canals. Meet people who lived or worked along the Ohio & Erie Canal. Read a diary entry by a teenage canal worker.
Listen to John Malvin, a free African American, recall his experiences as a canal boat captain. Try on a captain's frock coat or the simpler coat of a boatman. Decide whose money and whose opinion to trust. What did the notion of progress mean to different people? Canals brought changes in immigration, jobs, communications, and home life. Step into the nineteenth-century pastime of debate as citizens express their feelings in speeches and newspapers. How much should taxpayers invest in public works projects? Who benefits? Questions like these remain relevant today.
Last updated: April 24, 2018