The Cincinnati-Whitewater Canal was built in the 1830s and 40s. The fact that a large hill situated in the towns of Cleves and North Bend stood in the way led to the construction of one of only twelve canal tunnels ever built in the United States. Rather than build a system of locks to move the canal boats up and over the hill the decision was made to tunnel through the hill. North Bend resident and future president, William Henry Harrison was a leading proponent of the canal and the tunnel.
Extending 1780 feet, the tunnel had one entrance in Cleves, the other in North Bend. It was 24 feet in diameter with a water depth of about four feet.
Almost as soon as the tunnel was complete the days of the canal were numbered. The canal closed in 1856 and the railroad utilized the tunnel until 1884. The tunnel was abandoned and has sat in relative obscurity for over 100 years.
The construction of US 50 took the North Bend end of the tunnel. The Cleves entrance and a portion of the tunnel remain although the tunnel has become almost completely filled with silt over the years.
Since 1995 The Canal Preservation Committee of the Three Rivers Historical Society has worked to preserve and restore the tunnel. Work continues to secure funding to create a park for locals and tourists alike to learn the history of the canal and tunnel, now one of only four in existence.
For more information about the effort to save the tunnel contact:
PO Box 55
Cleves, Ohio 45002
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