With 2.5 million yearly visitors finding their way to the iconic 101-mile Towpath Trail running through the heart of the Canalway, the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area team is thrilled to announce the celebration of its 25th anniversary.
The Ohio & Erie Canalway is a National Heritage Area designated by Congress in 1996 to preserve and celebrate the rails, trails, landscapes, towns, and sites that grew up along the first 110 miles of the canal that helped America grow. Annually, more than 2.5 million Americans find their way to the iconic 101-mile Towpath Trail running through the heart of the Canalway.
The Congressional designation was given to the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area in 1996, thanks to a young solicitor in the village of Navarre, Ralph Regula.
Mr. Regula was familiar with the history of the Ohio & Erie Canal and its impact on communities in northeast Ohio and recognized the opportunity to celebrate and interpret this legacy for future generations.
Working in partnership with Allan Simpson, a reporter with the Canton Repository, Mr. Regula advocated for the conservation, interpretation, and development of the Ohio & Erie Canal with local elected officials and service organizations. Through their hard work and dedication, Mr. Regula and Mr. Simpson convinced the State of Ohio to deed over the canal lands in Stark County to the Stark County Government.
Building on the early advocacy efforts of Mr. Regula and Mr. Simpson, Canalway Partners was founded in Cleveland to focus on the project in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, and Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition was founded in Canal Fulton to focus on Summit, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties. Working together, Canalway Partners and Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition advocated for the Congressional designation of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area in 1996.
Since then, top accomplishments of the area include:
Co-Directors of Ohio & Erie Canalway Association (who manage the Ohio & Erie Canal National Heritage Area) Dan Rice and Mera Cardenas share, “Working together, we are creating a legacy for future generations in the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area. Since 1986, we have celebrated the natural, historical, and recreational resources along the historic Canal from Cleveland to New Philadelphia. In partnership and collaboration with our neighbors, community organizations, elected officials, units of government, and funders, we are developing the 101-mile Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and over 500 miles of connector trails, preserving historic buildings and conserving natural areas, and creating programming that enhances enjoyment of the area.”
Looking to the future, the team is thrilled to share strategic plans that include: