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Because the National Road had been built through here and because it was in the Whitewater River Valley, this town became the target terminus for the building of the Whitewater Canal. The main purpose of these notes is to save this map that shows how the canal went through the town.
Canal Society of Indiana posted
Signage outside Vinton HouseTop of map is north. The Haggerstown canal meets National Road in the center at site of Library today. Note canal basin on South Front St. Below National Road is the Whitewater Canal. Portions of canal boats have been retreived from this site. Notice that the angle of the canal and how the Vinton House is also angled. Vinton House is located where the arrow points just south of National Road. Imperial Mill was owned by Conklin.Photo by - R Schmid
Haggerstown Canal was an extension of the Whitewater Canal up to Haggerstown, IN. It was financed by the businesses of Haggerstown and citizens of the town volunteered to help dig the canal. Looking at a satellite image of the Cambridge City, it is obvious that the southern part of Center Street and the northern part of Green Street were built on the RoW of the canal. Note that the Imperial Mill operated until 1945. In general, the canal was maintained until the 1950s to supply water to the mills that had been built along it. The Police Department is now at the location of the mill.
This town had a good economy in the 1800s based on the technologies of canals and water power. But both of those technologies became obsolete in the 1800s because of railroads and steam power, respectively. So this town probably had a boom and bust in the 1800s. I've noted before that these towns are a good candidate for preserved Italianate architecture. The boom caused the buildings to be built and the bust caused them to remain. That is, businesses could not afford to rebuild or remodel. Then in the late 1900s, these towns rebounded as tourist towns and antique shops and the buildings were repaired. By this time, we had developed enough appreciation for out history that the buildings were restored rather than remodeled or replaced. So I used Google Maps' street view to check out the town's architecture. Sure enough, there are quite a few restored Italianate buildings along Main Street including this half-block of buildings.
I happened to find the Vinton House mentioned in the caption of the top image. Notice that the "alley" is on a diagonal with respect to main street. This is where the canal ran. So this building was by the canal. These buildings are not Italianate. Are they Federal? Also note that the lamppost shows that the town is serious about preserving its historical heritage.
This article first appeared on towns-and-nature.blogspot.com
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