WABASH AND ERIE
The Wabash and Erie Canal Trail is one of the many trails within Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve. This particular trail runs parallel to active railroad tracks operated by Norfolk Southern and thus is considered a rail with trail. We invite you to enjoy this 0.27 mile long trail within the nature preserve.
East Endpoint - Specific: East Trail
West Endpoint - Specific: Boonville Trail
Notable Trailheads: Wesselman Woods Nature Center
Near to US highways: US Highway 41, Interstate 69
In the early development of our nation, the need to move goods and people became apparent. With the development of the Erie Canal in New York, states further west developed canals of their own hoping to mimic the success of the Erie Canal. The role of the canals was to bring settlers and open up access to the natural resources of these States for industry and commerce. Indiana was no different and worked to build their own network of canals. One of these canals was the Wabash and Erie Canal linking Erie Lake with the Ohio River following the Wabash River Valley.
The Wabash and Erie Canal swept through northwest Ohio down to Fort Wayne, across the state to Lafayette, and down to Evansville. While the Wabash and Erie Canal was named after the mighty Wabash River, the canal did not always follow the Wabash River. This is especially true south of Terre Haute where the canal followed the Eel River to Worthington, also known as the Cross Cut Canal and the White River south of Worthington to Evansville, also known as the Central Canal. Once open, the Wabash and Erie Canal opened up trading routes between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.
Unfortunately for the canal, railroads had been invented before the canal was completed. The railroads could provide similar service for passengers and freight at a lower cost and provide faster service. The days were numbered for the canal, and by 1874 all operations ceased. Many canal right-of-ways were purchased by railroads, providing an already hand built and graded tow path that could be easily converted into a railroad. In many places, this allowed for the railroad to serve the center of a city or town without destroying a single house or building.