City of Groveport and Heritage Society to team up for historical signage

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Photo courtesy of the Groveport Heritage Museum
This is a view of the Ohio and Erie Canal in Groveport looking northeast from Oak Street toward Main Street from around 1900. The iron Main Street bridge can be seen in the background at right. The canal ran along what is now Wirt Road in this section of town.

The city of Groveport and the Groveport Heritage Society plan to work together to promote the city’s history.

“We’d like to provide a simple means for visitors and residents to learn about Groveport’s history,” said Carla Cramer of the Groveport Heritage Society at Groveport City Council’s April 10 meeting.

The heritage society wants to see special signage at the city’s main entrance roads denoting Groveport as an “historic canal town.” The group hopes to erect historical description features signage about the town at five different sites including Blacklick Park, the Sharp’s Landing building near Heritage Park, Ohio and Erie Canal Lock 22, the proposed pocket park at Main and Front streets, and in the parking lot behind Ace Hardware. Other sites could also be determined in the future.

These historical description features signs would include a map, photos, and concise, easy to absorb historical text. The features signage could highlight the town’s history as a port on the Ohio and Erie Canal and other historical topics.

Cramer said additional directional signage could be installed to show visitors how to reach Lock 22 down the path from Blacklick Park or from Groveport Park.

Groveport Law Director Kevin Shannon said legislation could be brought forth at council’s April 24 meeting authorizing City Administrator B.J. King to enter into a licensing agreement with the Groveport Heritage Society to allow the placing of the historical feature signage on city properties.

Once the licensing agreement is in place, then the size and the costs of the signage can be determined.

Canal driving trail
Groveport is a stop on the 114 mile driving trail of the The Ohio & Erie Canal Southern Descent Historic District that begins at the southern edge of Buckeye Lake in Fairfield County. It includes Bibler lock 8 in Baltimore; locks 11, 12, and 13 in Lockville; lock 22 in Groveport; locks 26, 27, 29, and 30 in and near Lockbourne; and remnants of the Columbus Feeder just west of Lockbourne in Franklin County.

In Pickaway County the trail passes lock 31 in Millport and includes Canal Park in Circleville. In Scioto County the trail continues south through Rushtown at lock 48 and lock 50 in West Portsmouth and ends at lock 55, west of downtown Portsmouth at the Ohio River.

The locks’ function was to raise and lower water levels for canal boats to meet the changing level of terrain.

Cramer said the historical signage will help residents and visitors learn the story of this important 19th century transportation route as they follow the driving trail. Signage provides continuity and connectivity along the trail for visitors.

Canal history
The Ohio and Erie Canal was completed between 1827-32 and wound 308 miles through Ohio connecting Lake Erie at Cleveland to the Ohio River in Portsmouth. The canal, a man-made waterway that was an engineering marvel, was built to enhance transportation and shipping in the state. The canal system operated until the early 20th century.

Lock 22 in Groveport
Lock 22 in Groveport is about 192-years-old and is made of sandstone block. Its overall length is 117 feet and its chamber is 90 feet long and 16 feet wide.

The lock is owned and maintained by the city of Groveport and is located in the northern part of Groveport Park. It is accessible from Groveport Park and Blacklick Park.

The canal channel is still visible near Lock 22 as well as in Groveport’s Blacklick Park. Additionally, a dry dock and canal boatyard operated in the 1800s in what is now Blacklick Park. The canal operated in Groveport from 1831 to the early 1900s and the transportation opportunities it offered for shipping and travel were a significant factor in the economic development and growth of the city.

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