Purdue University Press
OverviewBeginning with the first Indiana canal effort in 1804, this narrative deals with the half century of canal agitation in the valleys of the Wabash and Whitewater rivers. The rising tide of enthusiasm for internal improvements reached flood stage in the mammoth system legislation of 1836, which provided for a network of canals throughout the state, several turnpikes and even a few railroads. The Wabash and Earie Canal was eventually completed to Evansville, and for a brief period flourished as a busy carrier of agriculture and industrial products. The White-water Canal also had its useful moments in a checkered career. However, Indiana went bankrupt before the canals were completed, faced with such a heavy debt that for some years the state floundered in a financial morass. Affected by the vagaries of natural forces, the perversities of human nature, and the competition of early railroads, the rise, and fall of these two waterways and the ineffective Central Canal are chartered in this carefully researched and documented history. Men political and otherwise – governors, legislators, canal officials, citizens with vested interests, and articulate voters – who were involved with the improvements mania are brought to life with all their colorful idiosyncrasies. The youthful, over-confident mood of Indiana at the time, especially in the canal towns exhilarated by internal improvements that were supposed to bring progress and prosperity, is captured in this engaging, anecdotal chronicle.
“Fatout is an excellent storyteller with a remarkable talent of involving the reader in his subject and recapturing the spirit of the past.”Indiana Magazine of History