Miami County has been blessed to have many varied industries and businesses over the years. In Piqua, there was Aerovent, Favorite Stove Works, Atlas Underwear, Hartzell Propellers, and others. In Troy, many companies such as Troy Carriage & Sunshade, Hobart Corporation, Gummed Products and Hobart Brothers made Troy successful. Tipp City had Tipp Top Canning, the Buggy Whip Company, and others.
Although these communities may have been successful in their own right, One Hundred and Eighty One years ago this month, a very important event took place in this region of the state which helped to further the growth of these settlements. The opening of the Miami Canal (later called the Miami-Erie Canal) to Piqua helped to prosper and increase canal towns along the route.
The impact the canal had on this portion of the Miami Valley was immense, if only for a few short years.
Canals, were the latest rage in transportation of people, but were also important links for commerce. The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, linked Lake Erie and the Great Lakes to the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean in New York. Goods from the western frontier could be taken to the east coast and farther, and vice versa.
Likewise, the Miami Canal opened up a whole ‘new world’ for those looking for a market for their goods from the Miami Valley. In theory, shipments could be made from Miami County, up the canal to Lake Erie (when completed in 1845), then to the east coast on the Erie Canal. Or, the goods might be moved to the Gulf of Mexico via the canal, the Ohio River and then the Mississippi.
The best illustration to describe the impact of the canal on the Miami Valley in the early-to-mid 19th century is the Internet of today. If an individual has something to sell, or is looking for a particular product to purchase, then they can search throughout the world using the web. Such was the canal for local businesses.
But it was not a given that the canal or the economic advantages, which came with it would come to this area. Once the waterway had reached Dayton, the Ohio Legislative Assembly needed to decide if they wanted the route to proceed through Miami County and northward, or if the canal would turn east toward Urbana and Springfield, along the Mad River.
William Barbee, of Troy, was elected to the Assembly in 1829, the same year the route was completed to Dayton, and he was able to successfully get a bill passed which called for the canal route to be surveyed and extended northward through Troy, Piqua, St. Mary’s and all the way to the Maumee River and Lake Erie.
For several years, people would come to Tipp City, Troy and Piqua (in Miami County) to buy and sell in the bustling canal towns, which were bringing in the most recent goods from the east coast. This allowed towns along the canal route to prosper and grow and, in the years to come, draw in new businesses and industries, which, in turn, created jobs, income and success in these locations.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org