Whitewater Canal

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

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Our New Experience

Visit the Metamora Grist Mill

Begin your trip to the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site by experiencing the Metamora Grist Mill like never before. Discover the mill’s history from its beginnings to today, and see for yourself how the mill grinds corn into flour, meal and grits – just as it has since the 1800s! Then, try milling grains yourself with a hand-powered grinder or learn how millers secured their sacks of flour by trying your hand at tying a miller’s knot.

Children can explore our brand-new transportation discovery space. Learn how Hoosiers used to move from here to there on our wooden canal and train table, chart your course throughout Indiana with an interactive map or pack a model canal boat full of crates and merchandise before its journey to Cincinnati.

See the nation's only known wooden aqueduct

This unique structure carries the canal across Duck Creek. Engineers designed this aqueduct to carry the canal and its boats above the creek. This is the only known wooden covered aqueduct still operating in the United States. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Explore the hiking trails

Starting at the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site, walk along the hiking trails that lead you down the canal route. These trails will take you through historic Metamora and lead you to the Duck Creek Aqueduct (about .5 miles) and eventually the "Twin Locks" (an additional 2.6 miles).

Ride a canal boat

*Canal boat currently not in operation
Enjoy a ride on the Ben Franklin III, a canal boat pulled by two Belgian draft horses. Learn more about horses Joey and Jourdan in this Horse Nation article! We modeled our boat after the original Ben Franklin, a line (or freight) boat that was the first to arrive in Brookville in 1839. We added seating and a roof for passengers. Our Belgian horses (official state employees!) pull the 65’ boat down the canal, over the historic Duck Creek Aqueduct, and back to this loading dock.

Plan Your Visit

Address
19073 Main St.
Metamora, IN 47030

From U.S. Highway 52/U.S.-52 E., cross over the Whitewater River bridge and turn right onto Pennington Road. This county road winds for about one mile, then the Metamora Grist Mill is the first building on your left, and parking is on the right.

Hours

  • The Grist Mill is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The site is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, Easter, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
  • Whitewater is open New Year's Eve (limited hours), New Year’s Day (limited hours), Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - FREE, Presidents’ Day - FREE, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Spring and Fall Break (limited hours)

 

Contact Us
Phone: 765.647.6512
Fax: 765.647.2734
Email: whitewatercanalshs@indianamuseum.org

Prices

  • Members - Free (see membership section below)
  • Adult - $7
  • Senior* - $6
  • Youth* - $4
  • Children under 3 - Free
    *Senior: Ages 60 and older, Youth: Ages 3 through 17
     

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Group Rate
For groups of 15 or more, adult tickets are $5, and youth tickets are $3. Group tickets must be purchased in person.

Discounts
Special discounts are available for educators and education groups, military, Access Pass holders and more. View all discounts >>

The 2020 enhancements of the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site were made possible with the generous support of the State of Indiana and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.

Memberships

Become a member and receive free unlimited admission to Whitewater State Historic Site and all 12 statewide locations of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. Members also receive 10 percent discount in the gift shop and free admission to more than 300 museum and science centers worldwide. Learn more about membership options.

School Groups

Field trip admission is free for pre-scheduled, accredited schools and homeschool groups of 10 or more Indiana K-12 students. Call 765.647.6512 to schedule your visit.

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

Learn more about field trip and school program offerings in the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites PreK-12 Education Program Guide. View guide >>

 

Events

We hope to see you at our upcoming events. Visit our calendar for a list of events happening at all 12 Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites locations.

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Facility Rentals

Consider hosting your special event at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site. Click here to download our information packet, then fill out our inquiry form to receive more information.

Commercial Photography and Videography

If you are a photographer looking to book a shoot at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site, please review our commercial photography policy and application process. Learn more >>

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 1945 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.