The railroad, which came to Grand Rapids in 1877, actually caused the beginning of
failure for the canal system. The present railroad bridge was built around 1920 and
is still used by the Bluebird Passenger Train, transporting occupants back to a time when
the railroad was helping open up this part of the country.
As we cross the railroad track, on your left you will
see Howard Cemetery. Buried there are members of the Howard family who in 1820
became the first white settlers on the south bank. Also buried there is a
Revolutionary War soldier and Tee-Na-Beek, who is believed to be the last Ottawa Indian
left in the Maumee Valley. Losing their land to the White Man, the widow had no
burial spot, so his friend, Dresden Howard allowed the Indian's body to be placed among
his relatives. Wrapped in a fine blanket, his grave is located outside the iron
Log Cabin Tourist Center
Turning toward the river we see the log cabin, herb garden, and windmill which
surrounds it. Created by the Grand Rapids Historical Society to serve as a Welcome
Center, a rack of Northwest Ohio information brochures is placed there for your
convenience. Also, an historical marker tells the story of Grand Rapids' survival
despite fire and floods.
The Beautiful Maumee River Just North of the Sidecut
Canal Towpath - A Walk You Won't Want to Miss
At this point you gain a sweeping view of the Maumee River. The State Dam in the
distance was first built of wood in1838 to hold back water to feed the canal system.
It was rebuilt of concrete in 1908 when the State attempted to pump new life into
its canals. The canals failed completely in 1913 when statewide flooding caused
severe damage to the canal banks.
Bluebell Island and Park
The rolling green on your right is Bluebell Park.
Bluebell Island, for which the park was named, is located in the old Miami and Erie
Sidecut Canal basin where canal boats once turned around before heading west on their
return trip to the main leg of the Miami and Erie Canal across the river. The site
is one of the most serene spots in Grand Rapids and is a favorite picture taking location.
The island area was filled in due to erosion on the banks.