Left: a restored section of the Miami and Erie Canal in Providence Metropark
Though I have lived in the area for over two decades, I previously never set foot at Providence Metropark. Moreover, as a historian who sometimes writes about the region of the Great Black Swamp, I am also a bit embarrassed to admit that I had never went on a canal boat ride on the restored section of the Miami and Erie Canal that the park boasts.
Thus, when my wife mentioned that she would like to take a canal boat ride, I readily agreed, and we set out to Providence Metropark.
The mid-eighties weather was perfect for a boat ride, and I was impressed with the knowledge of the tour guides, who wore clothing from the mid-1870s and peppered the tour dialogue with interesting historical tidbits (and no references to newfangled technology such as the spirometer). Sometimes when I take a historical tour I find myself gritting my teeth at the history being presented, but the three reenactors were well versed in the history of Ohio's canal era.
The site also features a working sawmill and gristmill that is powered by water. Visitors can tour the Isaac Ludwig Mill and see how lumber and grains were processed before the era of industrial agriculture, and the mill even cuts timber used in many of the area Metroparks.
Tour bus and group reservations are accepted for the canal boat tour, and you can call 419-407-9741 for more information. Tickets for the boat ride are quite reasonable: $6 adults, $5 seniors (60 and over), $4 children (3 to 12), and kids aged two and under are free. The canal season runs from late April to mid-October, and you can follow the above link to find exact tour times and dates.