Ohio & Erie Canalway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2000)
- Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
- Length110 miles
The Ohio & Erie Canalway America’s Byway travels alongside the historic path of the Ohio & Erie Canal, the origination of the nation's first inland waterway link between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Along the 110-mile meandering route, the Byway preserves and follows not only the path of the canal itself, but also chronicles the evolution of transportation systems and many of the industries and communities which developed in conjunction with these systems. It is one of three primary transportation routes that allow exploration of the historic Canalway and its landscapes.
Story of the Byway
The Ohio & Erie Canalway Byway follows the path of the historic Ohio & Erie Canal between Dover, OH and Cleveland. The 110-mile meandering route preserves and follows not only the path of the namesake canal itself, but also chronicles the evolution of transportation systems and many of the industries and communities which developed in conjunction with these systems. It is one of three primary transportation routes that allow exploration and celebration of the momentous Canalway and its landscapes. You'll often see or cross the Towpath Trail, a 90+mile long pedestrian route and bikeway, and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Driving the length of the Byway shows the diversity of our region and the route intersects with 58 communities of all different sizes and experiences. In the northern sections closest to Lake Erie, an industrial landscape dominates views with a complex matrix of bridges, smokestacks and factories while the southern sections travel through rolling farmsteads, quaint villages, nature preserves and river corridors. The Byway travels through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, one of the nation's most visited, and two cities that were the backbone of this nation's industry and innovation: Cleveland and Akron.
In Cleveland, the industrial heritage is apparent. You’ll uncover the story of Ohio’s industrial legacy as you pass factories, warehouses and travel past a working steel mill or watch skyscraper-sized barges navigate the crooked Cuyahoga River. In Akron, you'll hug Summit Lake, a natural glacial lake that was the highpoint of the canal system and is now a peaceful respite on your journey.
Along the Byway’s midsection, you’ll see evidence of the golden days of the Canal era in picturesque towns such as Canal Fulton, where you can see a restored canal boat and Zoar, a town settled by German Separatists in 1817 who subsequently built 7-miles of the canal. The town is now a National Historic Landmark.
From Cleveland south to New Philadephia, the Byway starts downtown and travels along state routes, county roads and local streets in many towns and villages. Visit the Ohio and Erie Canalway website https://www.ohioanderiecanalway.com/explore/america-s-byway/ for specific route information.
Points of Interest
West Side Market
Cleveland's oldest public market, home to over 100 vendors.
River bisects Cleveland and feeds into Lake Erie.
Trail running beside the Ohio and Erie Canal, used to tow boats from land by attached ropes.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
32,572-acre park between Akron and Cleveland.
Akron Summit Lake
Area once boasted of a "Million-Dollar Playground" amuseument park.
Canal Towns along the Ohio & Erie Canalway
The Ohio & Erie Canalway Byway is not a single road, but a carefully mapped 110-mile route through four counties and 58 communities in the National Heritage Area. Wherever possible the Byway follows the path of the old Ohio & Erie Canal from Cleveland to Dover. More than 600 blue and orange signs provide an off-freeway driving route guiding travelers through the Canalway.
It starts in Cleveland’s Flats with its dominant industrial landscape, complex matrix of bridges and smokestacks - the industrial heritage apparent. You’ll uncover the story of Ohio’s industrial legacy as you pass factories, warehouses and travel past a working steel mill – ArcelorMittal, ranked in 2007 as the most productive steel mill in the world.
Heading south along the byway’s midsection, you’ll see evidence of the golden days of the Canal era including the city of Akron, the rubber capitol, whose roots can be directly traced to the Ohio & Erie Canalway. In Stark County you’ll find preserved canal-era structures, including a working replica of a canal boat in the picturesque town of Canal Fulton.
As you travel south, you’ll find traces of the pre-canal era in Bolivar, Zoar, Dover and New Philadelphia. Near the terminus of the Byway you can explore Schoenbrunn Village, open June through October, founded in 1772 as the first Christian settlement in Ohio among the Delaware Indians.
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