"Unchanged Port on the Ohio-Erie Canal" Canal Fulton by atufft

Canal Fulton Travel Guide: 24 reviews and 86 photos

When Horses Trod Canal Levees...

I found Canal Fulton almost completely by accident in the middle of the night when I was in the process of transferring a trailer full of frozen food from California to a cold storage distributor in Massillion, Ohio. Hours before the approach to Massillion, I was still trying to figure out how to visit Cleveland, but I couldn't figure out where to safely park the truck and how to reach the Cleveland rapid transit system such that I could enter downtown. Then, during a rest stop break within the area, I discovered that Massillion, which is located quite near tire manufacturing capitol, Akron, OH, was situation right on the old Ohio-Erie Canal. So, then as I approached Massillion along OH hwy 21 south, my truck headlights chance illuminated a brown historical interest sign for Canal Fulton. I took a big gamble because my semi and it's 53 foot trailer are a real hazard on narrow streets, and the prospect of being blocked by a bridge lower than my 14' high cube in the middle of the night was real scarry. But, then exit ramp at Milan Street appeared to be something of a truck route. So, I carefully and slowly snaked my way through the dimly lit suburban neighborhood, arched over a steep hill, and then crept down to cross a bridge into the small town. I immediately recognized even in the dark that I had found a real gem worth browsing on foot in the morning light, but I still had the ever present problem of where to park the truck. So, I crept further along Cherry Street until I found a grocery store parking lot. Flipping on my flashers, I waved down a passing motorist and asked for advice. "Park behing the Dollar Store. The trucks always park there".

Ohio in the days of Canal Transport

For the trucker, Ohio presents some confusion. It's hard to decide whether the state is simply an oversized metropolis like LA, crossed by many small freeways, and just happens to have corn fields too, or whether the state is essentially a rural state that happens to be crossed by so many country roads. And, so mighty Ohio, the giant of both agriculture and industry has its origins in the Ohio-Erie Canal, a system of water ways that linked Lake Erie with the Ohio River. This was a transportation system developed before the age of the railroad, and provided Ohio a way to export grains and fruit to New Orleans and New York. Later, Ohio became the industrial giant as the canal barges continued to export coal from the mines near Canal Fulton. While the railroads crisscrossed Ohio, the canals continued to provide service until as late as the first decade of the 20th century.

Preservation by Neglect

I live on a quiet and long neglected waterway in Stockton, a waterway full of low end properties, half sunken boats, and a twice daily tide. It's a great place for anglers, as the levee banks are overgrown with vegetation and the water remains a stagnant green. Canal Fulton is somewhat similar. By being neglected, the canal has not been filled in or otherwise modified to match the needs of modern suburban life. The downtown still has brick cobbled streets and many of the homes retain the charm of an earlier era. Akron and Massillion, while not far away in terms of miles, seem centuries away in terms of lifestyle. For the town of Canal Fulton, in addition to the stagnant canal, there runs in parallel the tree shrouded Tuscarawas River where one can rent a canoe and forget the problems of the working world for a couple of hours.

  • Last visit to Canal Fulton: Aug 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (15)

Comments (2)

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    Aug 15, 2008 at 10:25 AM

    Looks like a good excuse to park and tarry awhile. Ohio is full of these old canals which are great to rediscover - as you have so well related here.

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Aug 6, 2008 at 8:46 PM

    We used to sing about the EE-RY-EE canal at primary school - what was the song? Great page about a place and a time that was once so important. leyle


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