The Ohio & Erie Canalway America’s Byway
America’s Byways are roads to the heart and soul of America. Nationally designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, an America’s Byway generally provides a route connecting key cultural, historic, recreational and natural sites of interest within an area by way of two-lane roads.
The Ohio & Erie Canalway America’s Byway approximates travel alongside the historic path of the Ohio & Erie Canal, the nation's first inland waterway link between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, the Byway preserves and follows not only the path of the canal itself, but chronicles the evolution of transportation systems in this region of America and many of the industries which developed in conjunction with these systems.
How it works
The America’s Byway is not a single road - but a carefully mapped 110-mile route through four counties and 58 communities in the National Heritage Area. More than 600, blue and orange signs provide an off-freeway, driving route guiding travelers through the Canalway from our northern anchor in Cleveland’s Flats to the National Heritage Area’s southernmost point at Schoenbrunn Village in New Philadelphia.
Driving in our past and our present
Wherever possible, the Byway follows the path of the old Ohio & Erie Canal from Dover to Cleveland - which is why you’ll often find it traveling next to the Towpath Trail as well as a later form of transportation - the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
As it works its way south from Cleveland, the Byway passes through a number of towns with canal-era roots – Boston Mills (1811); Jaite (1905); Kendal (1812); Peninsula (1834); Akron (1825); Barberton (1891); Clinton (1816); Canal Fulton (1826); Massillon (1826); Navarre (1834); Bolivar; Zoar (1817); Dover; and New Philadelphia (1804).
Along the way, the viewsheds vary greatly:
- Along the Byway’s northern portion, you’ll uncover the story of Ohio’s industrial legacy as you pass factories, warehouses and travel through a working steel mill (ArcelorMittal, ranked in 2007 as the most productive steel mill in the world)
- Along the Byway’s midsection, you’ll see evidence of the golden days of the Canal era - including Akron, whose roots can be directly traced to the Ohio & Erie Canal
- In Stark County, you’ll find preserved canal-era structures, including a working replica of a canal boat in picturesque Canal Fulton
- To the south, you’ll find traces of the pre-Canal era as you travel through the rural communities of Tuscarawas County
Visions of History
Driving the length of the America’s Byway offers a storybook of images that tell the history of the Ohio & Erie Canalway, from a southern frame of greenery - farm fields, nature preserves, river corridors - to a northern landscape where a complex matrix of pipes and bridges, smokestacks, and fire red brick buildings dominate.
Twenty miles of its route drives directly through the heart of Cuyahoga Valley National Park - one of our country’s Top 10 most visited National Parks. The remnants of the Ohio & Erie Canal and the associated structures, towns and villages, architectural styles spanning nearly 200 years, countless natural environments and the evidence and expressions of many customs and traditions from thousands of years of human settlement are other scenic viewsheds provided along our signed Byway route. Learn more in the Byway Management Plan below
- Federal - Americaʼs Byway - Designated 2000
- State - Ohio State Scenic Byway - Designated 1996
About America’s Byways
The National Scenic Byways Program is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. America's Byways® is a distinctive collection of American roads, their stories and treasured places.
As defined on www.byways.org
- “The Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byways Program mission is to provide resources to the byway community in creating a unique travel experience and enhanced local quality of life through efforts to preserve, protect, interpret, and promote the intrinsic qualities of designated byways.”
What does the term America’s Byways® mean?
America's Byways® is the umbrella term used for marketing the collection of 150 distinct and diverse roads designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. America's Byways include the National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads. We are proud to be one of the 150!
Did You Know?
- A scenic byway, is not necessarily a classically defined “scenic” ride - but it’s designed to take you to scenic areas along its route. Our “viewsheds” vary dramatically, from industrial valleys of metal and steel in portions of the northern route to rolling agrarian views in the south.
- On the state level - there are designated Byways too. In the State of Ohio - there are 27 Byways in the collection, providing great ways to see Ohio. Learn more on our Welcome to Ohio page.