Travel back in time on the canal boat

Travel back in time on the canal boat

For a fun and educational activity with your family this summer, how about a ride on the Monticello III at Roscoe Village? The horse-drawn canal boat replica takes passengers on a 45-minute ride into Ohio’s past with a 1 1/2-mile trip along a restored section of the Ohio-Erie Canal.

"I'm very passionate about the canal. It's a way to preserve history. It's why Ohio is here today. Ohio wouldn't be here; we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the canals. It's a very valuable part of our history," said Tom Roahrig, who operates the canal boat, along with his wife Peggy. "Three-hundred-ten miles, it took seven years to dig out by hand."

On July 4, 1825, ground was broken for the canal at Licking Summit near Newark, Ohio. The Canal Commission contracted workers for grubbing and clearing, mucking and ditching, embankment and excavation, and locks and culverts. The canals enjoyed a period of prosperity from the 1830s to the early 1860s. During the 1840s, Ohio was the third-most prosperous state, owing much of that growth to the canal ("Life on the Ohio-Erie Canal" by Capt. P.R. Nye).

"Look at the determination our forefathers had to make us what we are today. If you don’t know where you came from and how you got here, you don’t have a good direction for the future," Roahrig said. "So far business is holding steady, due to everything that is going on. With regular hours the first two weeks, we were very slow since people were not traveling as much. We decided to just open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. When the campground opened at Lake Park, that helped us a lot. The rules change daily, but people have been coming out.”

Last year mostly retirees were riding the canal boat, but this year more families have been coming out to Lake Park and Roscoe Village.

“People have adjusted really quick,” Roahrig said. “I think they have cabin fever. There is plenty of room on the boat. It's open, so there is plenty of fresh air. We have a food truck that sells ice cream and sandwiches most days. The captain and the helmsman wear masks. People have that option as well. The boat holds 100 people, so families can sit far enough apart from other families and still hear the speech. We sanitize between trips and follow the guidelines. We have people come from all over. We had people from Berlin this past weekend."

Starting in July, the canal boat will be in operation four days a week. On Thursday and Friday, canal trips will run hourly from 1-3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday hourly from 1-4 p.m. Call ahead for the current schedule at 740-622-7528 or the Roscoe Village Visitors Center at 740-622-9310. Tickets are $6 for students age 6-12, $8 for adults and $7 for seniors.