Last updated: August 01. 2014 12:27PM - 281 Views
Terry D. Wright

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PIQUA — What better way to spend an evening in Ohio than on a farm along the Miami and Erie Canal? On Saturday, Aug. 16, at 6:30 p.m., the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency, Piqua, will host their annual Evening on the Canal. Visitors will enjoy a wonderful meal of baked pork chop, garlic and butter red potatoes, colorful green beans, and cherry dump cake for dessert served in the comfort of the Education Center, overlooking an original and restored mile-long section of the Miami and Erie Canal.

The completed Miami and Erie Canal extended from Cincinnati to Toledo following the Great Miami River much of the trek, with many supporting feeder canals along the way. The Great Miami River had a constant flow and travel for canal boats was prohibitive. But those river waters fed into the paralleling Big Ditch, as the canal was also known, and provided a stable and reliable water table for canal travel.

“After dinner, guests will board the General Harrison of Piqua for a relaxing ride as twilight settles on the canal. Along with the clip-clop of hooves on the towpath, passengers may encounter any of a variety of characters that could have been travelling on any of Ohio’s canals. Missioners, temperance proponents, ladies of questionable character, and the boat crew itself would each add to the excitement of a trip on the canals of Ohio,” said Andy Hite, historic site manager for the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency.

The Johnston Farm & Indian Agency owns and operates one of the few working canal boats in Ohio and is still drawn, as it was nearly two centuries ago, by mules or horses. The bright blue and yellow General Harrison of Piqua is 70 feet in length and can be seen on the same canal transporting passengers and cargo as boats did in the 19th century. The sleek General Harrison of Piqua is a modern professional hand crafted vessel but such well-constructed vessels weren’t always on the case. During the canal days, if you could build a boat, get it on the water and pay the state’s licensing fee, you could be a boat operator. No two boats were allowed to have the same name. This was done in order to eliminate any confusion in operations.

The Evening on the Canal program is never the same, but it is a reservation-only event, so call early to book your passage for this popular once-a-year opportunity. Cost for the event is $35 for adults, $30 for children 6-12; $30 and $25 for Johnston Farm Friends Council and Ohio History Connection members. For reservations, call (937) 773-2522 or (800) 752-2619.

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