Independence Dam State Park

27722 State Route 424
Defiance , OH 43512

419-956-1368   |
Daily until 11 p.m.

Settlement and the Canal in Northwest Ohio

Independence Dam State Park is one of several parks developed on old canal lands which was supported by a community-driven movement for the creation of parks in the early twentieth century.

Independence Dam State Park has a history rooted in the influence of the area’s natural resources on settlement and industrial development. During the Indian Wars in the 1790s and the War of 1812, legions of American soldiers were sent to Northwest Ohio to defend what they believed was their rightful land acquisition after the Revolution. The land the park sits on in 1813 was an army camp where US soldiers gathered supplies before heading up river to battle Native Americans defending their ancestral lands. Securing control of the resources in this area was an impetus for many of the battles that took place during the War of 1812. Later, these same resources became integral parts of the Miami-Erie Canal system. Independence Dam State Park developed out of a civic movement to create parks on abandoned canal land in the twentieth century. As you enter Independence State Dam Park you cross over a limestone canal lock that was once a part of the Miami and Erie Canal. The canal ran along the Maumee River, and visitors to the park can see one of the canal’s few remaining structures, the Independence Dam, as they enter. The dam was originally built from wood in the nineteenth century to provide water to the canal line; it was rebuilt using cement in 1924. By the 1920s, the Miami and Erie Canal, like other canal systems in the US, had been in decline for decades due to the construction of railroads. Once it was determined that the old canal lands could be transformed into parks during the Great Depression, labor and resources were provided under the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, the park’s history is showcased throughout its landscape.

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Notes for Travelers

Visitors can immerse themselves in Northwest Ohio’s natural, military, and industrial history by viewing historic markers scattered throughout the park. Primitive tent campsites are available under the canopy created by large black locust, beech, sycamore, and maple trees.

Additional Resources

Canals for a Nation: The Canal Era in the United States, 1790-1860, Ronald E. Shaw.

The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies, Alan Taylor.