Whitewater Canal

Discover how this 1840’s feat of engineering changed Indiana from a pioneer outpost to the “Crossroads of America."

Visit Whitewater Canal State Historic Site

Whitewater Canal State Historic Site
19083 Clayborn St.
Metamora, IN 47030

P: 765.647.6512
F: 765.647.2734
E: whitewatercanalshs@indianamuseum.org

Hours:

  • Metamora Grist Mill:
    • April through November
    • Wednesday – Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
      • Open on Labor Day, Monday, September 5 
  • Ben Franklin III Canal Boat:
    • May through October
    • Wednesday – Sunday
      • Open on Labor Day, Monday, September 5 
  • Rides available at 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m
  • Dependent on canal conditions 
    • Due to canal conditions, the Canal Boat will not run on Wednesday, August 24 or Thursday, August 25 

Admission:

Indiana State Museum members receive FREE admission and a 10 percent discount in the gift shop.

Admission to the Metamora Grist Mill is free. Purchase your tickets to ride the Ben Franklin III at the Grist Mill or Canal Boat Ticket Office near the boat dock.

Adults: $6
Seniors*: $5
Children*: $3
Students*: $1.50 (Group of 15)
Children under 3: FREE
*Seniors: Ages 60 and older, Child: Ages 3 through 17

Parking is available along the canal downtown, at the Duck Creek Aqueduct parking lot or at the Site Office building (includes accessible restrooms).

Group discount
Receive $1 off of regular admission with a group of 15 or more.

School Groups:

Interested in scheduling a group/school tour? Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more and for school groups. Call 765.647.6512 to schedule your visit.

Academic topics covered include early transportation, 19th century engineering and simple machines.

School Group Tours:

  • Whitewater Canal School Group Tour // Enjoy an interactive educational program at the Metamora Grist Mill, and a 25-minute canal boat tour on the Ben Franklin III through the only wooden aqueduct left in America. Rope making or Belgian Draft Horse hitching demonstrations are also available. Grades K-12. Available May through October; pre-registration is required at least two weeks in advance.

Educational Outreach:

  • Building a State: The Story of the Whitewater Canal // This program engages students about the rich science and culture of Indiana and the Whitewater Canal. Activities focus on the Whitewater Canal and canal life as it was during the 1840’s through the 1860’s. Students will also explore the science and engineering aspects of the canal. Grades 4-8. Available April through November. Fee: $3 per student plus mileage after 50 miles ($50 minimum). 
 

Events:

Please view our calendar for upcoming events. 

Facility Rentals:

Consider hosting your special event at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site.  Please fill out our inquiry form to receive information.

About Whitewater Canal:

As settlers moved into the old Northwest Territory after 1800, transportation routes became an important priority. Indiana's brief experience with canal building began with the passage of the Indiana Mammoth Internal Improvement Act of 1836. Whitewater Canal was one of several projects funded by this act.

Early canals were hand-dug waterways meant to bring goods and people inland. They were located near rivers and natural waterways which provided necessary water. Draft animals pulled long, narrow boats by a rope next to the canal on a towpath. Although canal travel was painfully slow, this method was much better than wagons for large, heavy loads.

The Whitewater Canal started in Lawrenceburg and originally ended at Cambridge City, on the Old National Road. Hagerstown merchants financed an extension to their town, making the canal 76 miles in length. The state of Ohio also built a 25-mile spur linking Cincinnati to the canal. Along the canal, 56 locks accommodate a fall of nearly 500 feet.

Upon Indiana’s bankruptcy in the 1840’s, private enterprises stepped up to complete the canal. After the canal transportation era ended with the arrival of the railroads, the canal was used as a source of water power for many grist mills and other industry. The Metamora Grist Mill is an example, using water power to produce corn meal for over 100 years.

The State of Indiana assumed management of a 14-mile section of the Whitewater Canal in 1946 and operates a horse-drawn canal boat and the Metamora Grist Mill. Visitors can also take a leisurely 25-minute cruise on the Ben Franklin III. During the cruise, they pass the Duck Creek Aqueduct, a covered bridge that carries the canal 16 feet over Duck Creek. It is believed to be the only structure of its kind in the nation.

METAMORA: A CANAL TOWN
Metamora is an example of the kind of towns that grew along the canal routes in Indiana. Stationed every few miles, these towns provided a source of fresh horses, food and lodging for travelers and a place for farmers and others to buy and sell their goods along the canal route. Commerce was so heavy that the White Water Valley Canal Company, established in 1842, had their own bank and printed their own currency at their headquarters in Connersville!

Today, visitors can still see evidence of that early prosperity in the old brick buildings dating back to the 1830’s on the west side of town. One example is the Martindale Hotel (1838) which served as an office and storeroom for Ezekial Tyner, a shipping agent on the canal. The Metamora Grist Mill is just one of the many mills and factories built to utilize the water power of the canal. Built in 1893, the mill is still used to grind corn meal in the 21st century.

BEN FRANKLIN III
The Ben Franklin III seats 75 people and is pulled along the canal by two Belgian draft horses. After an extensive study of the old canal boats, the Ben Franklin III was built in 1989 to look like one of the original canal boats that used to travel along the Whitewater Canal.

DUCK CREEK AQUEDUCT
Originally constructed in 1843, the aqueduct was partially destroyed by a flood in 1846. Shortly afterward, it was rebuilt with a modified Burr arch truss more than 75 feet long.

The Duck Creek Aqueduct is very unique — so much so that it was featured in an edition of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. It is perhaps the only covered wooden aqueduct still operating in the United States. Many visitors consider a canal boat ride through this aqueduct to be the centerpiece of their visit to Whitewater Canal State Historic Site.

The aqueduct was named a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1992 and a National Historic Landmark in 2014.