Mahoning River dam in Girard should stay

DEAR EDITOR:

This letter is regarding the removal of dams along the Mahoning River in Trumbull and Mahoning counties. The Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal was constructed the 1830s and served as useful transportation until being supplanted by the opening of the railroad network during the 1850s and 1860s.

In three areas, the P&O Canal was engineered to make use of the river by constructing dams and pooling the water. This then allowed the canal boats to travel along the river bank where a 10-foot wide towpath was built. The primary length of the P&O Canal, which extended 82 miles from New Castle, Pa., to Akron, was dug as an artificial channel having a water surface width of 40 feet.

The three dams built for the pooling purpose were at Lowellville, Girard and Warren. The Lowellville dam, east of the bridge, was likely destroyed by the massive 1913 flood. The Girard dam, the largest of the three, created a pool for the boats for a length of 8 miles to the west of Niles. The dam at Warren, south of South Street, was destroyed by the 1913 flood.

At each of these dams a lock was constructed to allow the boats to enter or leave the river. The lock wall for the Girard dam is still visible on the east side of the dam. Also, some wall structure still exists at the Lowellville dam site.

It is this writer’s opinion the Girard dam is historic, and that thereby is cause for it to remain, in addition to the economic value for the McDonald Steel Company.

BOB SMITH

Past president, Trumbull County Historical Society

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