A Walk Through History - The Wabash and Erie Canal

A Walk Through History

Take a Walk Through History

Take a walk through history with us as you discover the various historical attractions at our Wabash & Erie Canal Park. As you traverse the different areas of the park, you will be transported through different eras during the canal period. Come with us for a pleasant trip down memory lane.

host your quinceanera with the wabash and erie canal

Our Living History

1816 - Indiana is Granted Statehood

Indiana became the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816.

1828 - Delphi Established

Delphi was platted by General Samuel Milroy. Visit Centennial Stone on the abandoned Monon Railroad via the Monon High Trail.

Learn About Our Historic Trails

1836 - Indiana Enters the Canal Era

Following the success of the Erie Canal from New York to Buffalo, Indiana's leaders had a dream of digging a statewide network of canals. Several attempts were made before and after Indiana was granted statehood in 1816, but all failed for lack of funds. The first Hoosier lottery was conducted in 1819, with the hope of raising the necessary funds to build a canal around the Falls of Ohio, but the game garnered only $2,536. This was considerably shy of the dollars needed to begin construction. It was the Internal Improvements Act of 1836, which appropriated a time-sensitive 6 million dollars for canal building and other improvements that launched Indiana into the Canal Era.

Read Our Canal History

1838-1839 - Construction Camp

The Irish Canal Construction Camp was the site which housed the mostly Irish workforce that built the canal. It can be visited via the VanScoy Towpath Trail.

Read Our Canal History

1840 - The Canal

The Canal reached Logansport in 1838 and Delphi in 1840. An article from Cass County historical records declared, "The whole town turned out to see the first boat come in on the 'raging canal' drawn by three mules—made 5 or 6 miles per hour."

Canal Map

1850 - Pioneer Village

The land where our Pioneer Village lies was once owned by Reed Case, contractor for the Carroll County section of the Wabash & Erie Canal, and his business partner from Lafayette, James Spears. At one time, the site was home to two brick kilns, which were responsible for firing bricks for many of the buildings in downtown Delphi. 

Learn More About Our Historic Village

1850 - Canal Boat

We have an authentically replicated passenger boat called “The Delphi” for you to take a smooth 40-minute narrated tour down the canal!

Ride The Delphi

1857-1874 - Canal Deliveries

Canal Barges delivered lime and goods down the canal including plaster, mortar, and whitewash.

The Historic Kiln

1874 - Historic Crash & End of an Era

Go see the overlook of Deer Creek Dam where the calamity of 1874 saw the spilling of the boat and cargo into the Wabash River. It began when the towing animals fell through the “rotting floorboards” of the bridge over the dam’s spillway, and the boat was swept up by the current and ran into the earthen dam and it burst. That was the “last straw” event that closed the already dilapidated and financially failing canal. Within two years the State sold all the land at an auction.

Visit the site, accessible on the Campbell Ridge Trail.

Trail Map

Our Historic Trails

1880 - Rails

Railroads moved passengers faster and year around and when compared to canal boat travel the public was ready to ‘ditch’ the boats for the more expedient travel on rails.

The Railroad Depot

1901 - Stone Arch Bridge

See the 1901 Stone Arch in use today as vehicles pass over while the boat The Delphi passes under this arch. It replaced two earlier bridge spans.

About the Bridge

Pivot Bridge & Paper Mill

Experience how a road or pedestrian crossing over the Canal could swing out of the way for boat traffic on this outdoor “kid” sized exhibit. See the Little Red Mill that represents how flour and meal were ground by early water powered mills.

Pivot Bridge & Paper Mill

1900's - Electric Trains

"Interurbans" are commuter electric trains. There was once one in downtown Delphi, carrying passengers throughout the town.

Visit their narrow track trail on the Interurban Trail.

Trail Map

Learn About the Interurban

1999 - Restored History

Moving, restoring and resetting this historic span began in 1998 by the canal’s volunteer crew and it took over a year to complete this project.  Funding came from donations and a Hometown Indiana State grant. 

Our Canal History

2005 - Blue Bridge Commons

See the iron Stearns Truss bridge that marks the location of the early paper mills which were powered by diverted canal water. Built in 1905, this “last one known to exist in the US” Sterns Truss was disassembled and moved in 2005 from Pulaski County, Indiana and restored by volunteers.

The Historic Blue Bridge

2016 - Bicentennial

Delphi participated in the 2016 Bicentennial Torch, a beloved ceremony marking the 200th anniversary of Indiana. The torch was carried on our canal boat, The Delphi.

The Delphi
immerse yourself in history at the wabash and erie canal

See the Interactive Map!

Get a closer look at Canal Park with our Interactive Map!

Group Tours

Group Tours

Reserve a time to bring your group, friends, or family down to the canal for learning and fun!
School Tours

School Tours

Make a reservation to bring your class to the canal for a fun and enriching experience.

COVID Announcement

COVID Announcement

Please read the announcement from the Canal Association’s Board.

Trails

Trails

Our beautiful and historic trails are OPEN! Learn more about the trails and get some fresh air.

Education

Education

It’s as important as it is a pleasure to learn about those who have come before us and all the brave and impressive things they did which led up to the modern world we live in today. Learn more from the Learning Center on our site, starting with Canal History.

Things to Do

Things to Do

Come one, come all! Whether you have a school group, an event that needs hosting, or you plan on making a day trip, there’s no shortage of fun activities, period architecture, and educational displays to keep you engaged and inspired during your time here.

Weddings & Events

Weddings & Events

Your wedding day is one of the most memorable and magical days of your life. Bring your family and your friends, and we’ll supply the atmosphere to make your big day one to remember with memories and photos full of old-world charm. Contact us to reserve the Chapel and Canal Boat.

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