A Visit to Excello Lock

I had a few minutes to kill yesterday on the way up to a client meeting in Dayton.  Since I knew I’d be passing the Excello Lock and hadn’t been there in a while I decided I’d stop there for a few pictures and perhaps try to find the new geocache that had been placed there.  There had been a geocache there some years back and I think my first visit to this location was to find it, but it had been archived, unfortunately because it’s owner thought it was getting “stale”.

Here’s the original geocache: GCKGR8 – Excello Lock.  My log for it is here.

You can visit this entry to see the images from the 2006 visit.

Fortunately, another cacher placed a new cache here: GC2NYY8 – Excello Locks.  I noticed while looking around that the bridge that used to be across what I think was an overflow spillway is now gone.

Bridge present in 2006 is now gone

The above picture is from my 2006 visit.   The area is quite a bit more overgrown than it was back in 2006 too.   I seem to recall reading that Metroparks, who I think was maintaining the area abandoned it due to budget constraints.    Someone is still mowing around the site, but the brush isn’t being cut back, so it’s much harder to see the downstream end of the locks now.

After being on the wrong side of the lock for awhile, I walked around and finally made the find on the geocache.  You can read that log here.  I also got some pictures:

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I know where to look for lock 91!

I am excited!   I know where to look for lock 91 and I know why I couldn’t find the water feature described by the Museum Center volunteer that day.   I was looking in the wrong place.   In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out In Search of Lock 91 and then come back.   This will make more sense.

One of the things I learned in researching the Miami Erie canal in this area after I found lock 38 in West Chester (you can also read about that adventure) is that the next lock south from lock 38 is supposed to be lock 39.  Oddly though, the plat maps show the next lock south from 38 as lock 91.  The discrepancy didn’t make any sense, and it wasn’t until I started researching lock numbering that I figured out at least part of the equation.

Locks on the Miami Erie canal are numbered sequentially starting, believe it or not, in the middle of the state at the highest point in the canal elevation.  From there, they are numbered sequentially higher as they move away from the highest point, so you’ll find that the lock 38 I’ve reported on is the SOUTH lock 38.  The NORTH lock 38 is in Defiance and was apparently covered over when they built city buildings.

What is interesting though is that the lock numbers in this scheme generally do not match the lock numbers indicated on the plat maps.  It’s not clear to me how the plat maps were numbered, but I speculate that it may be related to the order that the locks were built.  Considering there were 103 locks on the canal, it’s certainly plausible that the Cresentville lock could be 91 as the plat map indicates.  I suspect the more widely accepted “current” designations came later.

Regardless what number you wish to use, there is (was) clearly a lock in the vicinity of the Butler/Hamilton county line near Crescentville, and I suspect the wood that the volunteer showed me is the remains of the lock floor.  Setting out to try to determine an exact location, I was finally able to understand the scaling on the plat maps and then use that the relate them to current map features.

The plat maps are scaled in 1″=100 feet.   Using that and reviewing the beginning and ending maps, I was able to understand that the increasing marker number that runs along the length of the canal actually marks 100 ft intervals from the start of the canal at the north end.  It functions much like a mile marker, albeit with much higher resolution.   For example, lock 91 (South 39) is located at marker 11928 indicating that it’s 11928*100 ft or 1192800 ft from the start of the canal at the north end.  Translated into miles that’s 1192800 / 5280 =  225.9 miles from the start of the canal.  Given that the canal was 249 miles long (not counting branches), that puts lock 91 (South 39) about 23.1 miles from the end of the line at the Ohio River.

Learning all of that made it much easier to scale the old plat maps to currently available topo maps and in fact, I did some graphics work to overlay the old maps onto new ones.

Once I did that, I can see that I was looking in the wrong area.   The remains of the lock would be 100-150 south of Crescentville at the most.  I had been looking much further south than that.  As you might imagine, I can’t wait to get over there for another look around!

I was also able to determine the approximate location for the Crescentville Aqueduct as well.  According to a historical survey, allegedly the abutments still exist.  I’ll be looking for those as well.

Watch for pictures and more details soon!


Port Union Bike Trail – April 30, 2013

Going for two days in a row, Dee and I made another outing with the bicycles this evening, this time to the Port Union bike trail.   This one is an interesting one that runs from SR747 almost to SR4 Bypass for a total of about 6 miles round trip.  It runs along the route of the old Miami Erie canal either on the berm, on the towpath or in the right of way depending on the area.

In addition to the nicely paved trail, the route also includes informational signs on the history of the canal (which I really enjoy) and several old canal features are still visible.  It’s well worth a visit.   If you’re a geocaching fan, there are several geocaches along the trail.  If you’ve followed my entries here for any length of time, you may remember the geocache that led me to this trail and the discovery of one of the locks from the canal in the area.

Here’s a map from the ride: