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In 1825 the first of the improvements in transportation, the Miami & Erie Canal, was built by hand. This bisected the future community of St. Bernard and Ludlow Grove, where dusty paths served because no roads existed. Begun at Middletown, the digging brought jobs south from that location to the Ohio River, and later progressed north to Toledo, where goods, services and people could be transported to world markets. Boats of all types were built, many at boatyards in St Bernard. Here were jobs with barns for mules and horses located near Oak Street. In addition, the chance to serve as captain or crew on the flat-bottomed boats provided income until railroads and frozen Canal water in winter put them out of business. At one time Broxterman and Boehm families cut ice in winter, which was stored and sold during the rest of the year.

When completed, the Canal route passed from the Ohio River through Cincinnati before approaching the Mitchell Avenue area. There, a wooden aqueduct provided the path for mules pulling Canal boats up and over Mitchell, around St. John Cemetery, under a bridge at Carthage Pike (Vine), with an area for boats to turn around behind today’s city hall. Continuing north, the waterway passed under a bridge at Ross Avenue, through today’s Ross Park, heading north to Murray Road, where a swinging bridge, for a price, would permit boats to pass through en route to Elmwood Place, Carthage and points beyond to Toledo.

St. B Canal on Ross.jpg

Girl Scout Lane is located behind the new library and is parallel to Vine Street, between McClelland and Ross Avenues. In about 1980, long after the Canal no longer served as a boat passageway, this had become a small street that was overgrown with brush and weeds. Although paving had been supplied along the roadway base, the area around had deteriorated. The local Girl Scouts asked the city for permission to beautify that area. At that time the young girls cleared and planted a small flower garden at the Ross Avenue entry, and in consideration of that much-needed service, a street sign was erected naming the street Girl Scout Lane.

It is hoped that today’s residents will help to maintain this little piece of the historic Miami & Erie Canal in honor of those who used to make their living traveling that early transportation route that provided products to the world.

ST. BERNARD OHIO 1878-1978

Marjorie Niesen

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