Maumee / Auglaize Rivers  History

Canoe and Kayak into the History of  Ohio Scenic and Historic Maumee and Augalize Rivers

Maumee River 

Great Black Swamp
The Maumee River watershed was once part of the , a remnant of , the  ancestor of Lake Erie. The 1,500-square-mile  swamp was a vast network of forests, wetlands, and grasslands, a rich habitat for numerous species of birds, animals, fish and flora. During the 19th century, over 16,000 miles of drainage ditches were installed in order to create the level and productive farmland that continues to generate much of the economic wealth of the region.

Miami Erie CanacanalCincinnatiToledoOhioOhio RiverLake Erieaqueductsguard lockscanal locksl
The Miami and Erie Canal was a 274-mile   that ran from  to , , creating a water route between the  and . The  was built parallel to and north of the Maumee between Toledo and Defiance, Ohio.  At its peak, it included 19 , three , 103 , multiple feeder canals, and a few man-made water reservoirs.

Due to competition from railroads,  the commercial use of the canal gradually declined during the late 19th century. It was permanently abandoned for commercial use in 1913 after a historic flood in Ohio severely damaged it.  Only a small fraction of the canal survives today, along with its towpath and locks.  A restored section of canal, including a canal lock, is operated at Providence Metropark, where visitors can ride an authentic canal boat.

Fort Defiance 
 

The Defiance, Ohio  area on the Maumee River  figured prominently in the days before Ohio's admittance to the union as a state in 1803

By 1793, the Defiance area had become  home to a trading center at the confluence of the Maumee and Auglaize Rivers. The site was also  occupied  by members of the Miami, Shawnee, Wyandot, Seneca, Ottawa, Delaware, Kickapoo, Pottawatomie, Chippewa, Iroquois and Mohawk tribes.

British envoys arrived in the area during the late-1700s intent on enlisting the Native population in the area in their efforts to disrupt the settlement of citizens of the then-new United States.  

"Mad"Anthony Wayne
The Americans responded by sending U.S. General Anthony Wayne to establish a fort at the confluence of the  and  rivers. It was  one in a line of defenses constructed by American forces in the campaign leading to the 's  on August 20, 1794.

Following Wayne’s successful campaign, the United States occupied Fort Defiance for a number of years before the wooden structure began to rot. 

 

War of 1812
During the War of 1812, the region again became strategically important. The United States made repairs to the crumbling fort but ultimately decided to construct Fort Winchester just a short distance away. As the years passed, the remnants of Fort Defiance deteriorated and became a memory of a violent and painful history.

Defiance, OhioThe city of , was founded at the fort's location in 1822. In 1904, the site of the fort was chosen for the Defiance Public Library.    •

The Miami & Erie Canal


The Miami and Erie Canal was a 274-mile (441 km)  that ran from  to , , creating a water route between the  Mississippi River and Lake Erie.

Construction on the canal began in 1825 and was completed in 1845 at a cost to the state government of $8,062,680.07. At its peak, it included 19 , three , 103 , multiple feeder canals, and a few man-made water reservoirs.

The canal climbed 395 feet above Lake Erie and 513 feet above the Ohio River to reach a topographical peak called the Loramie Summit, which extended 19 miles  between  to , north of . Boats up to 80 feet long were towed along the canal by , , or  walking on a prepared  along the bank, at a rate of four to five miles per hour.

Canal Problems
Once completed, the canals still faced numerous difficulties. Flooding could do serious damage to the locks, walls, and towpaths, requiring extensive repairs. Especially in northern Ohio, cold weather would cause the canals to freeze, also causing damage. Usually canals in the northern half of the state were drained dry from November to April. During the winter months, workers would repair any damage that occurred during the earlier part of the year. In southern Ohio, canals generally stayed open the entire year.

Due to competition from railroads, which began to be built in the area in the 1850s, the commercial use of the canal gradually declined during the late 19th century. It was permanently abandoned for commercial use in 1913 after a historic flood in Ohio severely damaged it. Only a small fraction of the canal survives today, along with its towpath and locks.

Along the Maumee River, from Independence Dam State Park to Florida Ohio is a remnant of lock 13 and a 7 mile section of the Miami / Erie Canal maintained for recreation. 

Tidioute, PA on the Allegheny River
Phone: 724-525-7013
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