Lock One Park22 South Water Street
New Bremen, Ohio 45869
New Bremen: A Western Canal Town
Lock One Park, located in New Bremen which was established in 1832, features a working canal lock along with a visitor center and walking paths along the canal stream.
The Miami-Erie Canal was constructed between 1825 and 1845. Designed to connect the Ohio River with Lake Erie, it stretched 274 miles along the western side of the state, providing a route for settlement and the transportation of goods to eastern markets. The canal was constructed by Irish, German, and French laborers who worked for thirty cents a day, plus room and board. Using hand tools, these workers felled trees on either side of the waterway, dug the canal ditch, and banked a towpath.
In 1832, a group of Bavarian and Hanoverian immigrants in Cincinnati formed the Bremen Society which purchased 80 acres along the proposed canal route, midway between Cincinnati and Toledo, to create a German Protestant enclave in the northwestern region of the state. They named the town after Bremen, Germany. Businesses grew up along the canal, including mills, meat-packing facilities, cooperages, breweries, and hotels. As traffic on the canal grew, the town flourished.
The various canal routes in Ohio were completed at the same time that railroads became the dominant mode of transportation. Across the state, canal use was gradually abandoned; locks, waterways, and towpaths fell into disrepair. The standing water in the canals became breeding grounds for mosquitos, and many canal streams were filled in to mitigate the threat of malaria and other diseases. The old waterways and towpaths were repurposed as roads, interurban lines, or railway beds. However, in many locales, remnants of the canal system can still be seen. Located in downtown New Bremen, the Lock One Park is a fine example of both canal history and adaptive re-use.
Lock One Park was created in 1996 and 1997 to provide a greenspace through the center of New Bremen. Archaeological excavation in 2005 uncovered the original spillway and timbers from the original lock gates. The towpath is now a walking trail. The park includes a locking system where visitors can test their muscles against a 7000-pound locking gate. The William Luellman House, built in 1837, houses a visitor center and museum. Built in 1837, it is the oldest building in the village and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a classic example of German frontier architecture.
Notes for Travelers
New Bremen is a thriving village and a visit will reveal many intriguing delights. Adjacent to Lock One Park is the National Bicycle Museum. On Saturdays during the summer, a farmers market sets up in the park’s auto lot, and one block away you’ll find a coffee shop offering beverages and a menu that includes pastries and light lunch fare.