Irish Americans of Cleveland

History of the Cleveland Irish

The Ohio Canal

from The Irish Americans & Their Communities of Cleveland
by Nelson J. Callihan &
William F. Hickey

It was, of course, no accident that the digging of the Ohio Canal commenced the same year that the Erie was completed. There were all kinds of wrangles among members of the newly-formed Ohio legislature as to its route through the state, but in the end the start of the canal depended primarily on the availability of men to dig it. In the summer of 1825, upwards of 3,000 Irishmen, all skilled with the shovel, were standing by, just waiting for the sign-up call. It came on July 4th of that year, when the first ground was broken downstate near Newark.

The Irish, veterans of the Erie and a goodly number just off the sailing ships, made their way to almost every point of the proposed route the 308-mile canal was to travel between Cincinnati on the state's western boundary and Marietta greenhorn would find his final resting place along the banks of the Ohio Canal.