The Ohio and Erie Canal Locks

By Don Dill

The Ohio and Erie Canal was built from 1825-27 and stretched over 300 miles. In Akron, 24 locks where built from one side to the other, the most famous of these being Akron locks 1, 2 and 3. The canal brought many jobs with both its construction and the businesses that need things to ship. However the canal system was soon replaced by the invention of the Train and the canals began to fall into disrepair. In 1861 the canals were open for private lease and soon the area of Lock 3 was used as a lumber yard. Later in 1884, a man named Samual Dyke opened The American Marble and Toy Manufacturing Company on the site of the lumber yard. His Factory revolutionized the toy industry because of the machinery he invented which could mass-produce marbles. These mass-produced marbles made of clay were immensely popular with children who could purchase a handful for a penny. Unfortunately the factory was burned to the ground in 1904, which appears to have been an accident. This ended the company and, by 1920, the site had become a parking lot for O’Neil’s Department Store. In the 1990’s after O’Neil’s had closed the city of Akron had the parking lot torn down and it was soon replaced with Lock 3 park. To this day the park is one of the most popular sites in Akron. During the summer there are a variety of outdoor concerts with all kinds of music types, during the winter the park changes into a large outdoor ice-skating rink. While there you can also look at the remains of the canal as well as visit the Akron History Exhibit and the Marble Museum.