What a difference a canal makes
The Ohio & Erie Canalway is a National Heritage Area - designated by Congress in 1996 - to help preserve and celebrate the rails, trails, landscapes, towns and sites that grew up along the first 110 miles of the canal that helped Ohio and our nation grow.
Life on the original western frontier
By connecting the Ohio frontier with growing industries in the nation’s east and south, the Ohio & Erie Canal helped people and products move through Ohio and beyond, creating industrial and cultural impacts across the region, the country and the world.
As detailed in our Management Plan:
The Ohio & Erie Canal affected the pace and character of this rural land and changed the life of people of the region forever. When the Canal was completed in 1832, from Cleveland to Portsmouth, Ohio, it became part of a continuous link from the Atlantic Seaboard to the Gulf of Mexico, via the Great Lakes and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
The human and economic impact of the Ohio & Erie Canal was immediate, as it positioned the State of Ohio to compete with the more established Atlantic states. The Canal attracted pioneers and immigrants, workers and entrepreneurs to the region, first to build it, then to use it as a reliable transportation system for goods and passengers. The Ohio & Erie Canal was not only the first, but also the most extensive, prosperous, and successful link of Ohio's state-wide canal system.
Visitor Tip: Boundary Marker of the Western Frontier — Did You Know? A large rock along Erie Avenue, north of Massillon, in Stark County marks what once was the western border of our country!
Sometimes - one event changes everything
The Canal brought prosperity to existing and new communities along its route. Cleveland, Akron and Massillon became bustling commercial and trade urban centers as a result of the Canal. Canal villages that are still apparent today sprang up and prospered at layover and transshipment points.
Today the Ohio & Erie Canalway traverses a rich and diversified cultural, historic, recreational and natural landscape that is a direct legacy of the Canal era. Millions live in the region surrounding the National Heritage Area. Annually, more than 2.5 million residents and visitors find their way to the iconic Towpath Trail and walk/bike/hike/ride along the path that continues to play a role in our history.
We invite you to continue reading more in our Management Plan.
Traveling simultaneously through
our past and present
Whether journeying along the Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail, driving along the America’s Byway or taking a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad - you’ll discover a variety of historic sites and attractions that directly impacted the region’s growth, our country’s history and the world we live in today.
Some ways to start your journeys
- Questing - Head to Questing to learn about outdoor spaces that have a history to share.
- Cultural Meccas and National Treasures - Explore the Byway Driving section to start learning about discovery drives you can take to learn about our canal-era history and rich cultural heritage. From museums to Halls of Fame - amazing choices await!
- You’ll find there’s a bit of history to the place - The Canalway boasts 385 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places & the Ohio Historical Inventory lists over 3,000 historical resources in our region.
- History Buffs - Find a wealth of information on the site and in the National Heritage Area - from Did You Know entries to Canal Visitor Centers - there's always more to explore!
- Canal Society of Ohio - Ready to immerse yourself in the pursuit and preservation of canal-era history? Head here: http://www.canalsocietyohio.org/