Miami Erie Canal Lock 38

One of the things I love about geocaching is that so many of them are hidden in areas of historical interest.  Earlier today I made a visit to a geocache on a bike trail that was constructed on the tow path for the Miami Erie Canal.  This particular cache is in West Chester, near the locations of the old towns of Rialto and Port Union.  You can read the write-up on this cache here.

One of the things I noticed while walking along the path were the remains of a cement stucture to the south at the point where what is now a creek crosses the remains of the canal and the towpath.   The cement structure appeared old enough and of the relative size and shape to have been part of a canal lock, leading me to wonder if in fact it was.

After doing some research, I learned that in fact, lock #38 was in the area.  Unfortunately for my speculation though, it appears that lock 38 was actually in the area that once was Rialto and based on map features, was probably in the area near where Port Union Rialto and Rialto Road meet.   Here’s a map of the area if you’re curious.  I’m basing my assessment on a review of the original canal plat maps I found on a DNR site.  I’ve saved the map that covers that area, but it’s a bit big to put up here.

So, being interested in such things as canals and canal locks, I did a bit of research on lock 38.  Apparently, based on this picture and information, the remains of the lock are still visible at least as of 1983.  I’m sure you can guess what comes next!  I’m planning on doing some exploration to see if perhaps the remains are still visible and accessible.  I’ll report back when I do, with pictures of course!  Wouldn’t that be a cool place to put a geocache?

So, what of my cement structure?  I don’t know.  Based on the plat maps, the structure I found is northwest of what was Port Union and probably corresponds with some canal features on the map I haven’t figured out yet.  It isn’t a lock however.   For the moment, that is still a mystery.   Perhaps, when I go seek lock 38, I might make a side trip and wade in the creek for a closer look at this structure too.


Hot-diggity 🙂   With a bit more research, I found that the lock shows up on a “historic inventory” of Union Township.  The good news is, since it’s on such a list, it would have been on the radar for protection in the event of development in the area.  Further, the site links to the actual form that was filled out when the inventory was conducted.  Pretty cool!  The form also confirms the location I suspected.  Field trip!



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