Historical Facts  

"Canal fever" struck in Indiana in the 1830's as a way to move goods and people. The Whitewater Canal was part of the vast internal improvement program undertaken by the State of Indiana. The program eventually sent the state into bankruptcy but the Whitewater Canal was completed by a private company. A fourteen-mile section of the original seventy-six mile canal is preserved from Laurel to Brookville as a state memorial. Today the canal is being remembered due to the Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway. Along the canal at the quaint town of Metamora features a working mill, a covered wooden aqueduct, a series of locks and a canal boat ride. A historic Whitewater Canal and River Trace (trail) generally follows the canal, providing a pleasurable hike.

At the close of the Civil War, the Whitewater Valley Railroad laid its tracks on the canal towpath. Today a scenic railroad operates on weekends to provide an authentic steam-engine train ride from Connersville to Brookville. Tourists, hikers and canoeists all make use of the railroad. Metamora has become a center of historical activity and is becoming a Mecca for those interested in a view of the past and the opportunity to shop for art and antique items.

A dam on the East Fork of the Whitewater River near Brookville has created a 5,260 acre reservoir. This dam was originally built to control flooding yet it provides opportunities for swimming, boating, hunting, fishing, camping, and related activities. Prior to the construction of the Brookville Dam, there was much flooding, leaving many of its bridges destroyed. Occasionally ferries were then used.

  Historical Facts

The Brookville Reservoir comprises a major portion of the East Fork, and that portion, left in its natural state, is not usually canoe able during the dry summer months. The dam does release water on a continual basis in order to provide quality water conditions for the fish and wildlife; which in turn also aids in favorable canoeing conditions. During the often dry summer months, the southernmost part of the river is always best for canoe conditions since the ground elevation drops four feet per mile instead of six; combined with the fact that it is near the confluence of the Great Miami River, there is always ample amounts of water.

Today there are a number of recreational areas located along the Whitewater River. Recently the Hamilton County Park District acquired 183 acres which includes 57 acres of fishing lakes. Many years ago, before the construction of swimming pools, swimming was a favorite past time in this pristine river. A favorite resort for swimming was Long Island Beach, located near I-275 in the state of Ohio.

The Whitewater Valley is rich in history, having been the first area in Indiana to be settled, now in the state of Ohio, this area began the surveying of the Northwest Territory. A marker for the First Prime Meridian makes this area distinct. Along West Harrison, Indiana and Harrison, Ohio at the state line, Morgan's Raiders burned a bridge during the Civil War.

Indian burial mounds testify to an even older historical significance; including the “Legend of Little Egypt”. A treaty with the Indians was signed at nearby Miami Fort. Grist and saw mills also prospered along the river as squatters and settlers began settling in the area. A first cabin of the area is now preserved at Shawnee Park.