A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio
History of Butler County: The Miami Canal
Pages 146 - 151
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"There has been paid to contractors on this canal and the works connected with it, during the year ending on the first of the present month, $265,302.78, which, with $31,994, the amount of payments last year, makes the total sum of $297,296.98 which has been paid on this line. The amount of the contracts which have been made on this canal from the final accounts of that part which is finished, and from the best estimate which can now be made of the unfinished parts, is as follows:

The thirty-one and a half miles contracted to be
Completed by the 1st of October, terminating
At the head of the locks near Reading (twenty-
Seven and a half miles finished)…………………….
The line from the head of the locks near Reading
To the junction of the Hamilton and Indiana
Roads, contracted to be finished by the 15th of
May next……………………………………………..
The dam, guard-lock, and feeder, from the Miami…………….15,000.00
The pond-drain at the head of Mill Creek……………………… 1,000.00
New line to and through Cincinnati…………………………….19,500.00
Total estimate of contracts on line………………….$433,809.20

"Deducting the total amount of payment on this line from the estimated amount of contracts, as shown above, will leave the sun of $136,512.22, required to accomplish the works now under contract. The acting commissioner on this line, as provided by law, has appointed Matthias CORWINE, of Warren County, James MC BRIDE, of Butler County, and Arthur HENRY, of Hamilton County, to be a board of appraisers for the assessment of the damages claimed by individuals in consequence of the construction of the canal through their lands, and for the materials used in the construction of the works connected with it. The operation of the law in relation to the use of materials for the construction of the canals has produced considerable dissatisfaction on this line; but it is confidently believed there will be a disposition among the citizens of that part of the State to acquiesce cheerfully in the awards of a board of appraisers composed of men of unquestionably high standing for uprightness of character and good judgement."

In the mean time canal-boats had been running on the portion which was completed, and many of the citizens of Butler and Hamilton counties had availed themselves of the opportunity of a ride upon the canal. One of the Hamilton newspapers, on November 30, 1827, says:

"The S . Forrer, of Middletown, returned to this place on Wednesday evening last, on her way from Hartwell's basin, near Cincinnati, accompanied by the Washington and Clinton, of the Farmer's and Mechanic's line, with a party from Cincinnati. Yesterday morning they all left here in fine style for Middletown. The Washington and Clinton returned again in the evening of the same day, and left this place again early this morning for Cincinnati."

A little later the same paper says:
"The water was let into the lower section of this canal to the city of Cincinnati several days since (March, 1828). Boats are now running regularly from Middletown to Cincinnati, a distance of forty-four miles."

On the 28th of March it reports the progress already made:
"It will certainly be pleasing to some of our readers to learn the result of the first week's experiment on this canal. The first entries that were made on the collector's books at this place were on the 19th of March. Between that and the 26th there was entered for Cincinnati 991 barrels of flour, 432 barrels of whisky, 138 barrels pork, 576 kegs lard, and 86 barrels oil, besides a great variety of other produce of the country for the Cincinnati market. The boats on their passage outward were also generally full-freighted with merchandise and passengers. The tolls entered upon the collector's books at this place during the first week, between the 19th and 26th, amounted to $229.36. Thus fair is the beginning."

In its issue of April 25th it has the following notice:
"ARRIVAL EXTRA.-The Miami Rambler, a large pine canoe, arrived at the Hamilton Basin on Friday last, in eight days from Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, a distance of seven hundred miles. Mr. Samuel SCOTT, a citizen of this county, with his son, were the passengers of the canoe in her novel trip. They embarked on the head waters of the Allegheny River, proceeded down that river to its confluence with the Ohio River at Pittsburg, then down the Ohio River to Cincinnati; from thence they proceeded on the Miami Canal, about thirty miles up the line; their canoe was then hauled over the bank of the canal into the Miami River; then down the Miami to the mouth of Four-mile Creek; then up Four-mile to Mr. SCOTT's residence."

In May the newspaper reported that Packet No. 1, Framer's and Merchants' Line, P.A> SPRIGMAN, master, had arrived at the Hamilton basin, and would ply regularly between Cincinnati and Middletown when the canal was passable.

In November, 1828, the commissioners announce the completion of the lower level from Cincinnati to Middletown, although some unexpected difficulties had been met with. They report:

"The first division of this canal, extending from the head of Main Street in the city of Cincinnati to the mouth of the Miami feeder, a distance of forty-four miles, has been completed during the past season. Its full completion was delayed until the latter part of the season in consequence of the multiplied difficulties which had to be encountered by the contractors in completing their work on the heavy cliffs and embankments in the valley of Mill Creek. The greater part of the line was finished as early as midsummer. The introduction of water into this canal was commenced about the 1st of July, and was attended with serious difficulties. By continued and preserving efforts thirty-eight miles of it were sufficiently filled by the 1st of November for the running of boats. The extensive beds of very coarse gravel over which the first twenty miles of the canal are constructed, with the dry condition of the earth and pure state of the water at this season for the year, rendered the operation of filling it difficult and tedious. The process was rendered more difficult from the circumstance of there being but one point from which water could be drawn to supply the demand produced by the great absorption throughout the line below. Experience soon established the point that a patient perseverance was the only safe, and in the end the most expeditious, course which could be pursued. To increase the volume of water introduced from the river, with view to hasten its progress forward in the canal, only added to the liability of the new banks to give away, and thus to produce delays much more serious than would be experienced by the flow of water in smaller quantities, proportioned more nearly to the powers of resistance of the new and porous banks. The first view of the difficulties in filling this section of the canal seemed to wear a discouraging aspect; but a little observation and reflection only were necessary to satisfy the mind that the evil was merely temporary. The result has proved it to be so. Though by very slow degrees, and for a time scarcely perceivable, the absorption continued to lessen, until, with but little increase of the supply from the river, the canal was filled to a natural basin about six miles by the line of canal north of Cincinnati. It was deemed prudent to arrest the progress of the water at this point, with a view to allow the heavy clay embankment below it, under the seasoning influence of the Winter frosts and rains, time to settle and to acquire that solidity and strength which it is necessary they should have to render them safe, and which can only be \acquired by the aid of time and the seasons. Embankments of the magnitude of these, where clay is the only material of which they are composed, can not be used while in a green and unsettled state without incurring greater risk than the dictates of prudence will sanction. In the present case the obligation to adhere to the counsel of prudence was the more binding, as the season had to far advanced to permit the idea of doing much business on the canal before Spring. Navigation on this division of the canal may commence as early in the Spring as the bank can be raised, and such repairs made as the effects of the Winter upon this part of the line may render necessary; and a full confidence is felt that the business which will be done upon it, and the benefits resulting to the country, will be equal to the most sanguine expectations of the commissioners.

"On the 28th of November three fine boats, crowded with citizens delighted with the novelty and interest of the occasion, left the basin six miles north of Cincinnati, and proceeded to Middletown with the most perfect success. The progress of the boats was equal to about three miles an hour through the course of the whole line, including the detention at the locks and all other causes of delay, which are numerous in a first attempt to navigate a new canal, when masters, hands, and horses are inexperienced, and often the canal itself in imperfect order. The boats returned to the basin with equal success, and it is understood have made several trips since, carrying passengers and freight. Th success of these experiments in canal navigation and the obvious facility with which heavy burdens were moved by the power of even a single horse, must go far to convince the most incredulous of the high interest and importance of such a channel of commercial intercourse passing the heart of a country as populous and productive as that through which this canal passes.

"The levels throughout this line prove to have been taken with the nicest accuracy, and the work generally appears to have been constructed in a substantial manner. Some breaches have occurred on the first introduction of the water and in consequence of the late heavy rains, but not to a greater extent than must be expected in all new canals. The liability of evils of this nature will gradually lessen, as time and the effects of the water upon the banks increase their solidity and strength. Two breaches occurred in the course of the season at a point about five miles from Hamilton, where the canal was constructed in the face of a bluff bank with the river, and considerable depth of water immediately at its base. The embankment at its base yielded to the pressure from above, and spread in the deep water of the river. The breaches are repaired, and probably have added to the security of the other parts of the same line of embankment. Another breach occurred in the embankment at Gregory's Creek, produced by the interference of an individual in closing the lock-gates below without the knowledge of the superintendent, before sufficient waterways had been prepared to pass off the accumulated water. But the most serous injuries were experienced at the aqueduct over Mill Creek. From the peculiar character of the bottom of that stream, the spring-floods undermined the foundation of one of the piers so as to require the rebuilding of about ten feet of the head of the pier; and one of the wing walls of the same work also gave way a few days after that level was filled with water. The space within the wing-walls not occupied with puddle was filled with a very fine sand (the adjoining material), which, on being exposed to the influence of the water, became a quicksand, assuming a semi-fluid state. The powerful pressure of this mass overcame the wall, which, on a careful inspection, was found to have been built in a very unfaithful manner. The wall has been rebuilt, and the breach fully repaired, and measures have been taken, as far as practicable, to guard against similar evils.

"The feeder from the Great Miami was completed at an early day in the season; but the dam did not progress with equal success. When nearly completed, a swell in the river, produced by the rains in October, caused a breach in the unfinished parts, which, from the advanced stage of the season and a constant succession of rains and high water, could not be then repaired, and its final completion was necessarily postponed until another year. In the mean time a sufficient supply of water for the canal may be drawn from the river by the aid of the brushdam, which gives the present supply. Immediately after the injury to the dam was sustained, the contract was declared to be forfeited on the part of the contractor, the work taken possession of by the State, and measure immediately taken to secure the dam against further injury, which, it is believed, will be effectual. The principal engineer was directed to make a particular examination of the state of the work and of the accounts connected with it, from which it appears that the acting commissioner had retained from the contractor money sufficient to admit of the completion of the dam by the State within the sum which would have been payable had it been completed under the contract. This opinion is predicated upon the idea that the work will sustain no further injury. Several floods have occurred in the river since, which do not appear to have extended the injury.

"Contracts were closed on the 26th of May for the construction of the remaining division of this canal, which begins at the mouth of the feeder from the Miami River, and terminates in a dam in Mad River about one mile above Dayton. That part of it from the saw-mill at Dayton to the Mad River dam is designed upon the present arrangement to serve as a feeder; but, in the event of the extension of this work to the north at any future period, to be used as a section of canal. This division to the dam is twenty-three miles and twenty-eight chains in length. It embraces ten locks, one aqueduct with a wooden trunk, three of heavy stone arches, with embankments of earth over them, and a dam across the Mad River. The remaining work is generally of the ordinary character, with the exception of the cedar bluffs near Dayton, and a very heavy bluff bank at Vail's mill, immediately below the mouth of Clear Creek. At each of these points the river comes in contact with the high lands, presenting passes for the canal expensive and somewhat difficult to encounter. The work on this line has progressed since its commencement with much activity, and is already in a very forward state. By the terms of the contracts, it is to be completed on the first day of June next. The advanced state of the work justifies the opinion that it will be completed all in the month of July.

"The stone-work on this division, which has heretofore, on the Miami Canal, cost much more than it was originally estimated to cost, has been let at rates about equal to the first estimate; and the earth-work at as low rates as on any other part of the canals. But throughout the line of the Miami Canal it has been found that the quantities of most of the different items of work upon which the first estimate was founded fall short of the actual quantity, and that its actual cost must necessarily exceed its estimated cost. The plans for crossing the different streams now adopted are, in many cases, more costly, but probably more substantial than those upon which the original estimates were made. In several instances heavy arches of masonry have been adopted, where wooden aqueducts or dams were the plans upon which the first estimates were founded. The item of locks is, however, the great cause of the difference between the actual and estimated cost of this canal, compared with that of the Ohio Canal, north of the Licking Summit. The principal saving on that part of the Ohio Canal, now under contract, will be in the cost of the locks. A very large proportion of the lockage is embraces in that line, and from the great facility of procuring stone of the easiest quality to work the locks from the summit to Kaldersburg, will be constructed at an average of $1,500 each less than the first estimate of their cost, and those from the latter point to Lake Erie upon terms but little less favorable; while on the Miami Canal the locks, instead of being the chief item of saving, have necessarily cost a sum considerably above the original estimate. The heavy bluffs and embankments encountered on the line have also contributed to swell the actual over the estimated cost of it.

"The payments made on the entire line, within the year ending on the first of December, amount to $258,525.79, which, with the sum of $297,296.98 previously paid, makes the total payments to contractors on this canal, $555,822.77. There had been paid on the line from Cincinnati to the Miami feeder the sum of $456,854.42, and there remains yet to be paid the sum of $1,115.16, making $10,403.40 its average cost per mile. This sum includes what has been paid in raising banks, in strengthening, securing, and repairing, the canal, and in building lock-houses, up to the first of December. There has been paid on account of the dam and feeder to the contractor, $10,614; and to the superintendent, since the work has been taken into the hands of the State, $600-In all, $11,214. The original estimate of the cost of this division of the canal, commencing at the Ohio River, and including the dam and feeder, was $474,254. The actual cost of the same, beginning at the head of Main Street, in Cincinnati, including the payments on the account of the dam and feeder, is $469,183.68. The estimated cost of the upper division of this canal under the contracts is $234,686.54. The work performed agreeably to the certificates of the engineers amounts to $96,040.41, leaving work to be performed to the amount of $138,646.13. To this should be added the probable sum of $3,000, which will be required to complete the dam across the Miami River. Awards have been made by the board of appraisers in favor of individuals for damages sustained by the construction of the canal to the amount of $5,011.54, which have been paid to the amount of $4,521.87. The sums awarded have been mostly for stone and timber used in the construction of the canal. There are several claims for the value of land occupied and for injuries alleged to have been sustained by the separation of the different parts of a farm, which have not yet been decided upon by the appraisers. A schedule of the awards which have been make is herewith submitted, marked A.


Moses VAIL The destruction of a grist
Mill and mill site on the
Miami River
John ALLEN Damage done his mill on
The Miami River by cutting
Off the communication
Between said mill and the
Surrounding country, and
The consequent deterioration
In the value of the mill and
Other improvements
Ira WHITE Timber taken for us of canal 18.50
Oliver MARTIN Stone taken for use of canal 2.50
Stephen HALL Stone taken for use of canal 3.37
Alexander PINDERY Stone taken for use of canal 2.62
Joseph MOORE Stone taken for use of canal 59.75
Moses MCCALL Stone taken for use of canal 39.62
Solomon MCCALL Stone taken for use of canal 36.00
John HILDEBRAND Stone taken for use of canal 5.18
Ephraim BROWN Stone taken for use of canal 16.87
John ADAMS Injury done a lot of land 150.00
Jacob MADEIRA Injury done a lot of land 100.00
Heirs of Joseph ROSS Injury done their farm 100.00
Cincinnati Water Company Cutting and removing water


Samuel HUGHES Injury to a crop of corn 12.50
Hannah KENIES Injury to a lot of land 60.00
Frederick CRISTMAN Injury to a lot of land 40.00
Heirs of Daniel HORN Injury to a lot of land 130.00
Christian KOHR Injury to a lot of land 60.00
Nath. WOODWARD Injury to a lot of land 10.00
Alex. CUMMINS Injury to a crop of oats 6.00
Ethan STONE Stone taken from his land 31.62
John COON Timber taken from his land 57.75
Isaac VANNEST Timber taken from his land 24.00
Andrew BRININGER Timber taken from his land 25.38
Heirs of Sam'l RHOADS Timber and stone taken from his land 39.47
Christian HAWN Timber and stone taken from his land 11.56
John TAYLOR Timber taken from his land 5.50
Trustees of Section 16.
T,4, R 8, M. R. S.
Timber taken from his land 1.00
Andrew EMERT Timber taken from his land 4.00


November 24th
Jno. STOUGHTENBOROUGH Timber taken from his land 10.12
Abner VANNEST Timber taken from his land 20.40

Total 5508.71

With the report of next year we conclude our series of extracts:

"The injury which this canal sustained in consequence of the floods of the last Winter was not so great as, from its exposed position, was expected. The cost of repairing the several breaches which occurred on that part of the line below the Miami feeder did not exceed the sum of two thousand dollars. The effects of the Winter on the line, in the lower part of the valley of Mill Creek, were of a nature calculated to cause serious difficulty, and to require a very considerable expenditure to prepare that portion of the canal for navigation. The settling of the heavy embankments, and the sliding of the earth lying in its natural condition from under the banks of the canal on the lower side, and into it from the upper side, were evils of much magnitude, which were increased by the peculiarly wet Winter and Spring. The breaches caused by the flood were repaired, and the effects of the Winter upon the lower part of the line so far overcome as to permit of the passage of boats throughout the line from Middletown to Cincinnati, on the 17th of March. Navigation on this division of the canal has been continued throughout the season with frequent interruptions, arising out of the peculiar character of the lower part of the line, and the unpropitious nature of the forepart of the season for the safety of a new canal, constructed upon clay side hills and artificial banks. A very salutary change has been produced in the appearance and character of this line since the termination of the Spring rains. The base of the embankments generally had been extended with a view to their greater security, the inner slopes and bottom of the canal, where it was deemed necessary, have been puddled, and the banks have now become much more solid and compact, and the evils arising from the slips are evidently lessening so far as to give assurances of less difficulty thereafter. But it will require time, with the exercise of much vigilance, to render this part of the canal entirely free from the evils incident to its peculiar character.

"The measures which had been taken at the date of the last annual report of the board to secure the dam across the Miami River from further injury proved effectual. It sustained little or no further damage through the Winter and Spring, and on the arrival of the proper season the breach through which the river had flowed for more than six months was closed in a a very substantial manner. The sum expended in securing the rebuilding the dam, added to that which had been previously paid to the contractor, still keeps the cost of the dam and feeder within the sum which would have been previously paid to the contractor, still keeps the cost of the dam and feeder within the sum which would have been payable had it been completed under the contract without the occurrence of the breach.

"The causes, in part, which delayed the progress of the work on the Ohio Canal have operated in their full force to retard the progress of the work on the upper division of the Miami Canal. It was confidently believed that this line could all have been completed in the month of July; its full completion was, however, delayed until the month of November, notwithstanding every reasonable exertion was made by the contractors to finish their work at an earlier period. The transportation of stone for the locks and aqueducts, the quarries for which were situated seven miles from the line, was necessarily delayed until the middle and latter part of the Summer, in consequence of the impassability of the roads during the Winter and early part of the season. This unavoidably delayed the completion of these works until late in the season. The entire canal from Cincinnati to Dayton, with a feeder from the Miami River a short distance above Middletown, and one from Mad River near Dayton, is now completed with the exception of the dam over Mad River, which was injured by the floods of January last. The water of this river continued so high up to the month of July as to induce the postponement of the rebuilding of the dam until another season. The feeder has been extended a short distance further up the stream, which, with the aid of a temporary brush and stone dam, gives an ample supply of water for the present.

"The filling of the new line with water had proved to be a tedious operation. That part of it nearest to Dayton, being first finished, the water was introduced into it as early as the 27th of September, and with an intermission of ten days made necessary by the unfinished state of a job, and another of twelve days, in consequence of a breach in an embankment, there has been a continued flow from Mad River in the canal of from six thousand to ten thousand cubic feet of water per minute up to the present time. Such has been the absorption of the water by the gravelly plains through which the canal is constructed, that with the utmost exertions on the part of the superintendent the water of Mad River has but just reached the head of the lower division of the canal. This portion of the line being filled with water, a change in the temperature of the weather is all that is now required to open navigation from Cincinnati to Dayton. "With the exception of about seven miles of the line near Cincinnati this canal is believed to be a very safe and permanent work, which will require for its annual repairs an expenditure comparatively small. It embraces twenty-two locks, overcoming one hundred and eighty-eight feet of lockage. These are built in a permanent manner, most off them in a character of workmanship that will bear a comparison with other works of the kind in the United States. The aqueducts on the lower division are constructed with wooden trunks, those in the upper division, with one exception, upon stone arches with embankments of earth over the arches. That over Clear Creek, supported by three arches of forty feet chord, is built in a style of workmanship which, for strength and beauty, is not surpassed by any work of the kind. It reflects much credit upon the skill and fidelity of the contractor. A side cut to connect the canal with the town of Hamilton has been laid out and constructed under the authority of the board within the past season, the length of which is fifty-three chains and sixty-two links. The cost of this cut is between six and seven thousand dollars, two thousand of which have been paid by the State, and the remaining sum by the citizens of Hamilton and Rossville.


Miles Chas. Lnks.
The length of the Miami Canal as now constructed
From an accurate survey of it made since its
Completion is
65 20 34

Miles Chas. Lnks.
Length of Hamilton side cut 53 62
Length of Miami feeder 42 00
Length of Mad River feeder, say, 1 40 00
??? 2 55 62
Total length of canal side cut and feeders, 67 75 96

Egbert T. SMITH For injuries to his farm,
Dwelling-house, garden
Water pipes, etc.
Heirs Daniel C. COOPER Timber taken from their land 52.50
Henry BACON Timber taken from his land 25.50
Daniel DOTY Timber taken from his land 30.00
Nathaniel WOODWARD Injury to his land 40.00
Christian KOHR Injury to his land 40.00

Total 388.00

The canal has continued to be in use ever since, and has been of immense value to the people of this section. Its usefulness, however, has been much lessened by the railroad, and those who are best informed on the subject look forward to the day as not far distant when the tolls will not pay the expense of keeping it in order, and it consequently will be abandoned. The dimensions of the channel are twenty-six feet at the bottom and forty feet at the top. In depth it varies in different sections from four feet to five feet. The locks are eighty feet long, and fourteen feet inside chamber. The maximum size of canal-boats is eighty tons.

The Hamilton side-cut has been abandoned and filled up.

The Warren County Canal Company was organized February 22, 1830, and led from Middletown to Lebanon, a distance including the feeder, or twenty miles. There were six locks upon it, --four at or near Lebanon, with an aggregate lift of twenty-eight feet, locking up into the western part of the town; two locks were located at Middletown, each with a fall of eight feet, locking down into the Miami and Erie Canal. At Lebanon was a dam on Turtle Creek about one hundred feet long, and also a reservoir of forty-five acres, the water form which, together with water furnished by the pool of the dam, supplied lockage water to the canal. To supply the canal form Middletown to the locks at Lebanon, two thousand cubic feet of water per minute was brought from Mad River by the Miami Canal, and introduced in to the Warren County Canal feeder above the second lock, north of Middletown. This canal was commenced by a company, and estimated in 1833 to cost $123,861. By an act of the General Assembly dated February 20, 1836, the canal was made an appendage and part of the Miami Canal, and placed in charge of the canal commissioners. The canal cost, when finished, the sum of two hundred and seventeen thousand, five hundred and fifty-two dollars and sixteen cents. The reservoir, situated in the north-west part of Lebanon, when full of water, is very much elevated above the old dam site, and the water, when drawn therefrom for lockage purposes, was used to propel machinery in its descent to the canal. The canal was suffered to go into disuse, and in 1855, was sold and abandoned. At the time the company turned over the canal to the State they had expended $21,742.33.

The channel may still be traced above Middletown, and in some places in Lemon Township to the east.