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January 5, 2014

Readers’ Forum: Jan. 6, 2014

TERRE HAUTE — Canal sites are valuable assets

We recently took two of our grandchildren (ages 6 and 9) to the Indiana State Museum. One of the displays that caught their attention was the canal locks exhibit featuring a small working model of locks as well as massive timbers from the Gronauer Lock salvaged from the northeastern Indiana part of the Wabash & Erie Canal.

We were saddened to think that Vigo County’s plans for a canal lock park at Riley seemed to have been abandoned with the release a few months ago of a very large grant received in 2009 by the county commissioners for that purpose. The Riley lock is a rarity as it is stone and most W&E Canal locks were wooden. And what is to become of the canal timbers discovered during the construction of the 641 bypass? We believed they were to be used at the Riley canal park also. Perhaps we should’ve let the state send them to the Whitewater Canal at Metamora where they could educate others on Indiana’s canal era.

The implication was made to us a few years ago that the Vigo County Parks Department was not eager to undertake the maintenance of a canal park given dwindling funds and manpower. But with the announcement of the impending purchase of a large tract of Pfizer property and the planned development of parts of it, it doesn’t make sense that maintaining 10 acres at Riley would have been that great a strain.

One need only check guest registers at canal parks such as those in Delphi in Indiana and Grand Rapids in Ohio to see that even foreign tourists come to visit canal sites.  

Hopefully, Vigo County will realize the assets it has in its canal sites before all traces are lost.

— Jo Ann Ligget

Terre Haute

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