|THE COLUMBUS CANAL.
ON the 30th of April, 1827, was the commencement of the first manual operations upon this part of the Ohio Canal. The citizens of Columbus and its neighborhood, to the number of eight or nine hundred, assembled at the State House, and at two o'clock formed a procession, marshalled by Colonels McDowell and McElvain, and preceded by General Warner and his suite, and parts of Captain Joseph McElvain's company of Dragoons, Captain Foos's company of Riflemen, Captain A. McElvain's company of Riflemen, Columbus Artillery, and State officers, and marched to the ground near where Comstock's warehouse now stands. Joseph R. Swan, Esq., then delivered a short, but pertinent address; and at its close, Gen. McLene, then Secretary of State, and Nathaniel McLean, Esq., then Keeper of
the Penitentiary, proceeded to remove the first earth from the lateral canal, which was wheeled from the ground by Messrs. R. Osborn and H. Brown, then Auditor and Treasurer of State, amidst the reiterated shouts of the assembly. The company then retired from the ground to partake of a cold collation, prepared by Mr. C. Heyl, on the brow of the hill a few rods north of the Penitentiary square. After the cloth was removed, the following among other toasts were drank:
“The Ohio Canal—The great artery from which will carry vitality to the extremities of the Union.”
“The Citizens of Columbus—Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Who envies this day, let him slink back to ths cavern and growl.”
This branch of canal was over four years constructing. The heaviest jobs were the canal dam across the Scioto and the Columbus locks, Messrs. W. McElvain, A. McElvain, B. Sells and P. Sells, contractors; the four-mile locks, Aaron Lytle, contractor; and the eight locks at Lockbourne, the Granville Company, consisting of Messrs. Monson, Fasset, Taylor and Avery, contractors. The first mile from the Scioto was excavated by the Penitentiary convicts under guards. Such men were selected by the keeper as would have least induce-
ments to break away; and they generally received a remitment of part of their sentences for faithful service.
The farming and producing part of [the] community were watching with great anxiety the progress of this work, pretty correctly anticipating the new era that the completion of the canals would introduce in the Ohio markets. Of the substantial farmeres along this short line, who were thus watching its progress, might be named William Merion, Moses Merrill, William Stewart, R. C. Henderson, Joseph Fisher, Andrew Dill, Percival Adams, Michael Stimmel, Fergus Morehead, Samuel Riley, James German, Thomas Morris, William Bennett, Jacob Plum, Luke Decker and Thomas Vause. Of whom Messrs. Adams, Stimmel and Riley are the only survivors.
On the 23d of September, 1831, the first boat arrived at Columbus by way of the canal. About eight o'clock in the evening the firing of cannon announced the approach of the “Governor Brown,” a canal boat launched at Circleville a few days previous, and neatly fitted up for an excursion of pleasure to this place, several of the most respectable citizens of Pickaway County being on board as passengers. The next morning at an early hour, a considerable number of ladies and gentlemen of Columbus repaired to the boat in order to
pay their respects to the visitors; and after the delivery of a brief but very appropriate address by Gen. Flournoy, exchanging those friendly salutations and cordial greetings which the occasion was so well calculated to call forth, the party proceeded back to Circleville, accompanied a short distance by a respectable number of the citizens of Columbus, and the Columbus band of music. On the afternoon of the second day after, two canal boats, the “Cincinnati” and the “Red Rover,” from the lake by way of Newark, entered the lock at the mouth of the Columbus feeder where they were received by a committee appointed for that purpose, and proceeded under a national salute of twenty-four guns, and music from the Columbus band, to a point just below the national road bridge, where the commanders were welcomed in the name of the citizens of Columbus by Col. Doherty, in a neat address. A procession was then formed, when the company proceeded to Mr. Ridgway's large warehouse, and partook of a collation prepared in handsome style by Mr. John Young. A third boat the “Lady Jane,” arrived soon afterward and was received in a similar manner. On the day following, these boats having disposed of their freight took their departure for Cleveland in the same order and with about the same ceremonies as on their arrival, a large number of ladies and gentlemen, together with the Columbus band,
accompanying their welcome visitors as far as the five-mile locks. Here they met the “Chillicothe” and “George Baker,” which took them on board, and they returned home highly delighted with theri ride, at the rate of three or four miles an hour.
Joseph Ridgway, jr., was the first collector of canal tolls, and kept the office up at the Ridgway warehouse on Broad street, and nearly all the boats passed up there to put out and take in freight.
M. S. Hunter was the second collector, and the office was removed to the head of the canal, where it has continued ever since; and nearly all the boats passed up there to put out and take in freight.
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