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11-05-02: Auglaize County - New canal park studied
The Daily Standard
    ST. MARYS - State and local officials are looking into creating a small park at lock No. 14 along the Miami & Erie Canal in Auglaize County.
    And the Heritage Trails Park District, which serves Auglaize County, wants to bring the original lockkeeper's house back to the site located on Ohio 66, about six miles south of St. Marys.
    Nick Van Schoyck, director of the St. Marys Chamber of Commerce, who also is a member of the Miami and Erie Canal Corridor Association (MECCA), talked with members of the Lake Development Corporation (LDC) during the LDC meeting on Monday.
    A series of locks dot the roughly 250-mile-long Miami & Erie Canal that runs from Toledo to Cincinnati. When the canal was used for trade and transportation between 1845 to the early 1900s, the locks were used to control the water level in the canal so the canal boats could float and be raised or lowered to the next level. The canal is not level and slopes either downhill or uphill depending on the route of travel.
    Grand Lake St. Marys, Indian Lake and Lake Loramie were built as feeder lakes for the Miami & Erie Canal.
    "The lock is on (5-7 acres of) ground already owned by ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources)," Van Schoyck said. "They're looking at creating some parking and adding some picnic tables."
    Van Schoyck said the lockkeeper's house was removed from the site years ago and became the Noble Township trustees house. Trustees have since built a new township house and no longer need the building.
    Dave Stilwell, one of three commissioners with the Heritage Trails Park District, said Noble Township trustees have indicated they would donate the building to the park district if the district can move it.
    Stilwell said sometime in the 1930s, the old lockkeeper's house was moved from its original site at lock 14 to its present site about 3/4 of a mile away on Ohio 66A.
    The park district is waiting for ODNR to grant it a lease to operate the park before they move the lockkeeper's house back, Stilwell said.
    The lease would allow the Heritage Trails Park District to operate and maintain the park.
    "We'll have to wait until we get the lease first and then look into the cost of moving it and proceed from there," Stilwell said. "I know township trustees are willing to part with the building. We just have to work out details on how to make it happen."
    Stilwell said park district commissioners have not decided what the building would be used for. Some ideas include a canal history museum or meeting place for park district commissioners and other groups, he said, adding that a decision on what the building would ultimately be used for is "a long way off."


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