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Searching For The Central Canal

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

I think it is safe to say I have a bit of an obsession with Indiana's long defunct canal system, and in particular the Central Canal and its impact (and potential impact) on Indianapolis and central Indiana as a whole. I've previously written about the stone lock which used to stand at Market Street, and tracking down the remains of the Buck Creek culvert for the Central Canal down on the southside.

Aside from these specific posts, I'm always digging around for additional information at the Indiana State Library, Indiana State Archives, and the Indiana Historical Society, or stopping by sites related to the canal system while driving home from an out of town work function. One of my canal related projects (I may have mentioned this in an earlier post) is tracing the remains of the Central Canal in central Indiana, a route which starts north of Anderson and concludes in Waverly along State Road 37 on the way to Martinsville. In some places, the canal is readily present (i.e. the section from Broad Ripple to downtown) while in other areas, the canal has disappeared, or all that remains is a slight depression in the ground. 

To help track my progress in this endeavor, I started an annotated Google map which details the Central Canal route, included areas where the actual route is questionable, excerpts from various history sources, and modern photos of points of interest.

A link to the map is here, in case you would prefer to view this in a separate window. This project is a work in progress. I hope to re-start my efforts to gain access to private property on the south side of Indianapolis, as well as some sections of the canal north of the city, and west of Anderson, later this fall.

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Feb 05, 2020

I share the obsession. Days and hours spent in the car, looking at old maps, walking through swamps and woods. Checking old topos from the early 1900's for updated right of ways.

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