In March of 1825, two small villages, separated by Pawpaw Creek Valley, dedicated their first official plats of ground in preparation for the boom that would arrive as soon as the gates opened allowing water from the the Licking Reservoir (Buckeye Lake) to fill the canal. The construction of the eight locks (90' x 15' sandstone chambers that served as water elevators) in this area allowed for an economic boom. Every passenger on the canal boat had to disembark for 15-minutes at every lock. Baltimore's 8 locks provided lots of business opportunities.
The canal consisted of a 40-foot wide ditch, water elevators (locks) and a tow-path. A towboy walked his mules down the towpath for the first time in October 1831. The canal would add fuel to the rivalry between New Market (the Virginia settlement east of Pawpaw that became Baltimore in 1833) and Basil (Swiss settlement west of Pawpaw) that would officially last until the end of WWII when both sides of Pawpaw became Baltimore.
The "Golden Era" of the canal was over by the 1850's, but its cultural impact would stretch well into the 20th century. Consequently, Baltimore, like many other O & E Canal communities on the 310-mile ditch, owes much of its heritage to the canal that brought people, prosperity and progress.
Baltimore's Eight Locks:
Lock #1 King Watson Lock is located on Canal Road (County Road 11) east of Baltimore. After crossing State Route 37 travel east on Canal Road, this lock was .2 mile just off the north side of the road. Although the road runs partly over the old towpath and the sandstone blocks are gone, the canal bed is still visible.
Lock # 2 Walnut Cottage Lock / White Mill Lock is located on Canal Road (CR 11) 8 miles west of the intersection of SR 37. Nothing remains of this lock except sandstone blocks that form part of the foundation of the small house on the north side of the road.
Lock # 3 Norris Mill Lock is located .7 mile west of Lock #2 just off to the north of Canal Road. The canal bed is difficult to see in this sector because of the wooded area and because, as the canal continues west , the road takes a southwest direction. Though the remains of this lock are only a few years off the road, it is in bad condition and is on private property.
Lock # 4 Short Level Lock is located about a football field west of Lock # 3. It is the interior of the wooded area and cannot be seen from Canal Road. It gets its name from the fact the "level" it controlled was a short distance from the last lock. This lock is in reasonable good condition with the 17-inch oak flooring. This lock stands on private property.
Lock # 5 Dry Dock Lock / Ketner Lock is located less than two hundred yards west of Lock #4. It is in relatively good condition, but cannot be seen from Canal Road and is on private property. This was one of the most famous locks on the entire O & E Canal. A dry dock was a boat-building and repair station. It gave employment to canal workers on a year-round basis. While most canal communities "froze in" at least three months each winter when the 4-foot deep quiet water froze over, in Baltimore there was always a need for workers at the dry docks. This provided good business for the innkeepers, taverns, and local peace officers.
Lock #6 Mulnix Lock / Smeck's Mill Lock is located under Water Street west of North Main Street. This lock was approximately across from the Ohio Paperboard sign and was known for its popularity with local boys as a swimming hole.
Lock #7 Well's Lock is approximately 200 yards from the West Market Street - East Street junction (2 miles from the junction of Water Street and West Market Street). Part of the south wall still remains, but is in poor condition. This was a very busy business lock for the Neff and Hummel Tile Yard was on the south side (towpath side) and was a constrant threat to the canal during flooding.
Lock #8 Bibler Lock on Bibler Lock Lane that goes south off CR 13 anLock #8 Bibler Lock, Baltimore, Ohio Ohio & Erie Canal is .3 mile from the West Market CR13 "fork" at the west end of Baltimore. This lock and the area around it has been turned into a park. It is located on village property where it can be easily accessed. The lock is in good condition and was reclaimed from nature in the late winter of 1999. An interesting feature of this lock was it perpendicular "tumble" that carried water from the upper end of the lock to the lower end where it spilled back into the canal bed to insure proper water level below the lock. Some spillway sandstone are still in place. Some of the hardware used to attach the gates and stabilize the sandstone blocks is still visible.
Used with permission of Jim Reed, Baltimore's Canal Expert.
Please note: The historic plack is located next to the Ohio & Erie Canal bed as it crosses Market St at Water Street. The Ohio historical marker was placed near this juncture on land owned by The Baltimore House.