All photos this page courtesy of Richard Smith
"Our canal is progressing. We can see it from our door. I have nothing particular to write about so will conclude with all our love to you."
Rachel Johnston to Robinson Johnston, Jan'r 1st, 1835
Following the War of 1812, Ohio saw a movement to improve internal transportation. Road building began in earnest at this time, however; a way to move large quantities of goods, mainly farm produce, quickly and cheaply, was of primary concern. . In 1825, after the completion by New York of the Erie Canal, Ohio broke ground for her own canals.
To oversee the construction of this new transportation system, a seven member Canal Commission was appointed. John Johnston was one of the seven named to this Board. Through his work not only was the Ohio-Erie Canal constructed through central Ohio, but also the Miami-Erie Canal became a part of the landscape of western Ohio.
The canals of Ohio did exactly what they were built to do: farmers could, by 1845, ship goods to markets more cheaply; items came to areas such as Piqua at a much lower cost; businesses grew along the canals; economic prosperity brought more people to western Ohio. Thanks in large part to the efforts of John Johnston, Piqua and Miami County now had an outlet to the world.
The Johnston Farm & Indian Agency is proud to own and operate one of Ohio's working canal boats still drawn, as it was nearly two centuries ago, by a team of mules. Guests may enjoy a ride aboard the General Harrison of Piqua, a replica 70-foot-long canal boat often used for transportation of passengers and cargo in the 19th century. Costumed guides direct the mule-drawn boat to provide an authentic and memorable experience for all.
Excerpt from A Window in Time by Andy Hite
Copyright 2013 Johnston Farm & Indian Agency
An Ohio Historical Society Site
Website maintained by the Johnston Farm Friends Council
Webmaster email: johnstonfarmohio.hotmail.com