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Monday, September 27, 2010 9:24 AM

While digging through my collection of old newspapers, I discovered the following canal stories in a 1976 edition of the Delphos Herald.
The following items had been submitted by the late Ernest Robison of Spencerville.
On 31 July 1885 — The town has authorized a bridge watch’s salary of $300 for the year ending 10 May 1885.

2 July 1886 — ”Businessmen all along the canal are expressing their disgust of the management of the Miami and Erie Canal. The continual breaking of aquaducts and locks, thus necessitating drainage and causing delays in the transportation of freight, has caused some heavy losses and will damage the future traffic thousands of dollars.”

18 May 1888  — The city council paid C. Counts, 30.00 for tending bridges in April and “Wm. Tong, for load of gravel, 25.60.”

13 July 1888 — ”Frederick Cameron, bridge tender for the swing bridges at Second and Fourth Streets, dropped dead on duty while hurrying from the upper to the lower bridge.”

14 July 1889 — ”Last Sunday a great quantity of ship timber was rafted northward through this place on the canal.  The timber came from Celina and was on its way to the Lakes”……”Conrad (Coon) Norbeck, an old canal boat captain, was one of the first to meet disaster out of Spencerville.  He loaded his boat with 2000 bushels of wheat at the Spencerville Flouring Mill and started for Toledo.  Midway between the shipping points his boat sunk. In order to make good the loss of the damaged grain, Mr. Norbeck was forced to sell his farm that he owned west of Spencerville. (The boat was lost in August 1860.)”

From the Spencerville Journal
3 August 1888 — “A ship wreck occurred on the ‘raging’ canal last Wednesday morning, resulting in the sinking of one vessel and the complete blockade of the harbor.  Dave Norbeck (son of the above ‘Coon’ Norbeck and also a lifetime canal boat captain) had tied up one of his boats near the old mill race and during the night one end got loose and the boat swung across the canal, lodging on each bank; an up-coming boat drew the water out of the middle level to get through the lock, thus leaving the old boat supporting itself by the stem and stern on the banks and the weight caused it to crack in the middle, soon filling up with water, especially after being pushed into the channel so the up-coming boat could pass.  The state boat and dredge luckily were here and worked all day to get the old boat up and out of the way.”

Delphos is fortunate to have such a large open area of the canal. The ducks like it, too.
There must have been at least 50 of them resting on the banks this week. We just have to use patience when they decide to cross the street. So if you’re in hurry, just don’t try crossing at Tenth Street.
Long live the ducks!



0 #1 2014-02-26 11:53
My great grandfather, William Fifin Smith who lived on West Sixth Street, Delphos was a canal man and canal foreman as late as 1900. He died November, 1910. Have you ever come across any reference of William in your stories regarding the canal.

Thank you in advance, I am from Massachusetts, so I can't get to Delphos very easily.

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