Canal Society of Indiana (CSI) recently donated a rare blueprint-map of the Wabash & Erie Canal to the History Center’s collection.
Todd Maxell Pelfrey, executive director of the History Center, stated, “We are delighted to receive such rare glimpse of history from one of the most adventurous and optimistic chapters of Fort Wayne’s past, that of the Wabash and Erie Canal. For many generations the canal has intrigued our community and this artifact provides singularly precise information about its route through the city. We look forward to sharing this impressive map with the public through a future expansion of our permanent exhibition galleries.”
Tom Fortman of Larwill, Indiana, first found the 37-foot long canal blueprint-map hidden away in an old cabinet given to him when he worked for Norfolk and Western Railroad many years ago. He later gave the map to the CSI, who is now donating it to the History Center. Tom and his wife Kay joined the CSI in presenting the blueprint-map to the History Center on May 5.
The map shows the Canal running through Fort Wayne and is significant because it provides details of Moots Lock #3 of the Wabash & Erie Canal. CSI previously did not know the exact location of the lock, but guessed it to be buried under the railroad tracks near Glasgow Avenue. The blueprint-map show that the lock is actually buried under the tracks almost a block east of Glasgow Avenue near the end of Grant Street and Deister Machine Company, Inc.
This donation supplements the History Center’s Wabash & Erie Canal map collection, which includes, “An original drawing, eight-foot long, of the route from New Haven to Fort Wayne and details of owners along the route,” according to Walter Font, History Center curator.