Editor’s Notebook column
By Rick Palsgrove
Generations of Groveport kids have ridden their bicycles down the grass and gravel path that leads east from Blacklick Park to get a glimpse of Ohio and Erie Canal Lock 22.
For most of those years the historic stone lock was shrouded in overgrowth and its channel was filled with trash and debris.
But 13 years ago, one of those bike riding kids decided to do something about cleaning up the lock and preserving its history.
His name was Nathan White and at age 17 he made cleaning up the lock his Eagle Scout project. In April 2004, White and several members of his fellow Boy Scouts from Troop 71 spent hours of back breaking labor to cut back the thick, heavy brush growing in and around the lock, as well as carrying out trash – including old tires, a steel watering trough, assorted mangled metal, rusty appliances, a gnarled car door, and more – from the lock channel.
In an interview with the Southeast Messenger in April 2004, White said, “I’ve wanted to clean up the lock for years. I’ve worked
hard as a scout and I didn’t want an easy Eagle Scout project. It’s a big job. But we’ll finish it.”
Indeed they did. White and his crew of friends succeeded in cleaning up the lock and today the lock is a preserved piece of Groveport’s history as part of Groveport Park.
Sadly, White passed away 11 years after completing the project at the young age of 28.
But his work at the lock will be remembered as a plaque commemorating his efforts was installed near Lock 22 on April 13.
“He would be so very proud to know that everyone can enjoy seeing the lock. I know he’s smiling to see how beautifully the lock as been taken care of and that the respect for the historical meaning behind the lock has been maintained,” said Nathan’s mother Susan Arnett at the plaque dedication ceremony on April 13. “It’s wonderful that he will be remembered when people visit the lock.”
City parks workers continue to maintain the lock by keeping it free of brush and other potential damage.
Arnett said White grew up in scouting and he made many good friends there.
“Scouting meant a lot to him. He felt becoming an Eagle Scout was one of his greatest accomplishments,” said Arnett. “Nathan was a hard worker and adventurous. He loved the outdoors and he loved music. He had a beautiful voice and now he’s singing with the angels.”
Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall said the city appreciates the work White did in cleaning up the lock.
“We thank him for his effort,” said Hall.
Added Groveport City Councilman Jim Beidler, “This is a marvelous celebration of Groveport’s history and we thank Nathan for that. His effort was phenomenal. It’s an example for young people to look and see what you can do.”
In a letter White wrote to council in 2004 after completing the lock clean up project, he humbly wrote, “I hope the village can be proud of this piece of Groveport history…”
The town is proud of the work that White and his crew did to preserve the lock, but most of all, the town is, and always will be, proud of you, Nathan White.
Rick Palsgrove is editor of the Southeast Messenger.
What a wonderful story/recognition regarding Nathan White and the scouts cleaning up the lock near Blacklick Park. Thank you Rick (and staff) for these kinds of truly important stories we often read in the Messenger.
Wow! Nathan had great vision and energy to tackle such a project. I’m very grateful for the team he led to preserve this beautiful lock as evidence of our industrial past. Lock 22 was one of many highlights on The Canal Society of Ohio Spring tour held April 27/28, 2017.