LOCK 4 CANAL PARK OHIO AND ERIE CANAL, LOCK 4 CANAL PARK ERIE AVENUE LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, OHIO TEL: 1 (330) 477-3552 WEBSITE: www.starkparks.com Upon its completion in 1832, the Ohio and Erie Canal established a major transportation route that promised great social and economic growth for cities situated along its 300-plus mile route. For many years, it did just that. Yet, the success of the canal system was built upon the sweat and blood of hundreds of Irish immigrant workers, some of whom are said to have never left the now-decaying waterway. “For every mile of the Canal, an Irishman is buried.” This is a popular expression associated with the Ohio and Erie Canal, and for good reason. The canal workers were mostly Irish immigrants. Their job was grueling and dangerous. For over a 12-hour day of strenuous labor, the canal worker received a pittance in pay, slept in a tent or shanty, and ate meager meals that consisted mostly of coffee, bacon, beans, potatoes, and, on every other day, maggot-ridden meat. Not surprisingly, there were several labor uprisings as a result. In addition, many internal conflicts brewed among the workers that often turned violent, even deadly. This may have been due to the “daily jigger of whiskey” allotted to the men as part of their compensation. Some local law enforcement officials attributed as much as 90 percent of homicides to drunken canal workers. Hundreds of young men died from various microbes festering in the mud and stagnant water, such as malaria (or “Canal Fever”) and acute diarrhea. Some local towns refused to accept their bodies for burial. When they were accepted, the bodies were often buried in mass paupers’ graves. Other times, the men were simply buried in shallow, unmarked graves along the canal. Many tales are told of the restless spirits of canal workers haunting the many locks along the canal from Cleveland to Columbus. But Lock 4, located just south of Canal Fulton, has an especially grisly haunted reputation. In 1857, it is said that the canal manager of Lock 4 learned that the lock was about to be shut down permanently. Enraged at the prospect of losing his job, the operator brutally killed some of his workers and then took his own life by pouring acid on himself. Even in death, he still refuses to leave the lock and nearby lock tender’s cabin. The mass murder and suicide could not be verified, and we have investigated Lock 4 on two separate occasions, but we did not encounter the spirit of the canal manager. Yet, the lock tender’s cabin—which is still standing today—seemed to carry an ominous, almost malicious presence. Lock 4 is now part of a park that is free and open to the public. Contact the Stark County Park District for hours and more information.
Written by —Stephanie Lane Webmistress, DeadOhio.com
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places -Ghostly Locales from around the World – Compiled & Edited by Jeff Belanger – Copyright 2005 by Jeff Belanger