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Friday, July 18, 2014

Behind Downtown Akron. A Walk from Lock 3 Park to Lock #1 site.

Under the State Street Bridge.
Downtown Akron, Ohio is small enough that you can usually find parking in the evenings or weekends, but large enough that you get a good selection of restaurants, attractions, and events.  On Thursday, the 17th, Shelby and I decided to head downtown.  Turns out there was a sold-out Rubber Ducks game (they are really packing the stands this year), something big going on at the Civic Theater, and a "Downtown at Dusk" event at the art museum.  For a Thursday night, downtown was packed elbow to elbow.

Lock 3 park didn't have anything going on, so we parked in the State Street garage that sits between the park and Canal Park.  We got there early enough to miss the baseball crowd flooding into the parking.  

Lock 3 was barren.  The stage sat empty, waiting for the Friday Night Rock the Lock concert.  We stepped onto the towpath, and headed south.
Lock 3 itself is directly behind the fence.
I mentioned before that Shelby is fascinated by canal locks.  Walking a few hundred feet south of the park, and under the State Street bridge takes you to Lock #2.  I think that this is Shelby's favorite thus far, because it still has "doors" on it.  They're not functional, and actually don't go the whole way to the bottom of the lock, but they give you a sense of what it would have looked like when it was full.
The downstream gate.  There is an artistic, life sized canal boat in the background with an interpretative sign.
  We traipsed around lock 2 for a bit, which is also directly behind Canal Park.  There were a few people already being seated, and the grounds crew was preparing the infield.  This might be a sneaky place to watch the game or even catch a home run without even needing to purchase a ticket.  I don't know if they clear the area during games or not.

On down past canal park, you come to the former site of Lock #1.  The canal disappears under exchange street here, and on the west bank, is the Richard Howe House.  This building was built in 1836 by Richard Howe, the resident engineer of the Ohio and Erie canal.  But it wasn't built here.  It was originally constructed further to the east on Exchange street.  It was neglected, but in 2008, the Canalway Coalition cut the whole thing in half, put it on flatbeds, restored it, and moved it to the present site.  You can tour it now (I haven't got the chance yet).  It's open Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
This is the view from the stairs heading across the canal to the Howe house, just below Exchange street.  From right to left: Howe House, Akron YMCA building, the canal, and Canal Park.
We continued down the towpath a bit past here, going under Exchange street in what is an old viaduct tunnel faced with sandstone.  A look at a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1886 shows that a creek used to run through here.
The intersection of Exchange and S. Main streets in Akron as it looked in 1886.

Other than some of the steam pipes from the Akron Steam plant, and a nice view of the former BF Goodrich stacks, there aren't many more "features" to the canal until you walk the whole way to Summit Lake, approximately 1 mile from Exchange street.  We decided to turn around at one of the former Goodrich office buildings and head back to Lock 3.

In essence, we we able to take a nice leisurely stroll, and see a lot of history, some nature (there are quite a few geese and mallards in the canal though here, and interesting plants growing on the banks) "behind" a busy downtown Akron.  If you would just like a 30 minute out-and-back, relaxing walk, you can't go wrong with this one.
Taken a few days prior to our walk, during the Italian American festival.