Delphos Canal Commission Museum

241 North Main Street
Delphos, OH 45833

419-692-4496   |
Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays 1:00- 3:00 p.m.; By Appointment

Delphos Canal Commission Museum

The Delphos Canal Commission Museum documents the heyday of the Miami-Erie Canal, a major transportation and engineering feat. Explore the evolution of a small Ohio town through the early canal years down through the 1950s.

The Delphos Canal Commission Museum preserves the history of the city’s growth and development around the Miami and Erie Canal. The Delphos Canal Commission was originally formed in 1989 to oversee the preservation of an 1850’s canal boat, The Marguerite, which had been rescued from the bottom of the canal by local volunteers. Today, the Museum documents the industrial, commercial, and cultural life of the canal zone, the twenty-mile stretch of the Miami and Erie Canal that launched Delphos’s settlement.

Museum patrons can view the remnants of The Marguerite and explore what travel on a canal boat was like through reconstructed exhibits, including a boat cabin. A turn-of-the-century home is recreated on the main floor of the museum, showing how Delphos may have looked at the time. Additional exhibits explore Delphos’s industrial and commercial development through subsequent decades, including its nineteenth-century agricultural life from farming implements to food preservation. The radical transformation brought by the railroads is explored in one room devoted to documenting Ohio railroads, along with a 1940’s model railroad recreating the landscape of Delphos.

The Miami and Erie Canal was the largest internal improvement project undertaken in the United States at the time. Constructed between 1825 and 1832, the canal linked the Ohio River to Lake Erie, allowing for easy travel and shipping over the 309-mile distance. The canal project was a massive undertaking, requiring locks to manage water levels, reservoirs to supplement water supply, and uniform construction of canal depth and width.

The canal drew families to settle in Delphos and establish businesses based on the traffic along the waterway. Boats were travelling through the Delphos stretch of the canal as early as 1845, and the city was chartered in 1851, becoming an early site for German Catholic settlement in Western Ohio. The Museum documents the many businesses that grew around the canal, from boatbuilding to a cigar factory.

The canal system became less profitable after the advent of railroads, and major flooding in the early twentieth century destroyed many sections of the canal. Well-preserved sections of the canal can still be viewed in the Delphos area, and the local community hosts a canal clean-up day each year to preserve this reminder of Ohio’s past.

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Notes for Travelers

The Delphos Canal Commission Museum is in historic downtown Delphos. The Museum’s collections are housed in a repurposed three-story storefront, and an elevator allows added accessibility to the lower and upper levels. Many artifacts are displayed without barriers on the open floor plan for close inspection but should not be touched. Street parking is available in front of the Museum with a city lot parking immediately behind the building. A self-guided tour map detailing the collections is provided and guided tours are available upon request. Deep Cut Historic Park is a 5-minute drive from the Museum and contains portions of the original Delphos canal.


Rebekah Brown

Additional Resources

Woods, Terry K. Ohio’s Grand Canal: A Brief History of the Ohio and Erie Canal. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2008.

Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. Oxford History of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.