Lock #44 in Providence Metropark
Location of Providence, Ohio
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The village of Providence was founded by a Frenchman, Peter Manor, who was the first white man to move up the Maumee River. He arrived there in 1816 in order to establish a fur trading post for the Northwestern Fur Company. In 1822, Manor had a sawmill erected next to the river, and a gristmill was built in 1835.
Talk of the proposed Miami and Erie Canal and a lack of goods and services required by westward travelers prompted Manor to plat the town. In 1837, the State of Ohio granted Manor a contract to begin construction, and the town was soon open for business. By 1843, some of the eighty-eight lots laid out were vacated. The village was, in general, considered a favorable place to live by the westward travelers, often seen as a haven from the problems of lawlessness, drinking, fighting, and crime that typically plagued Ohio canal towns.
The fall of Providence began when fire swept through the village in 1846. The fire was catastrophic and destroyed most of the central business district. The buildings that were destroyed were never rebuilt, leaving the people of Providence to a more practical life. Tragedy struck again in 1854 when travelers through the village infested it with cholera. Those that kept their lives left Providence so fast that most of their possessions were left behind.
The remaining structures were eventually destroyed or moved, and the land plots disappeared. On October 28, 1928, the county officially removed Providence from its records. The remaining buildings, the church and the mill, have been designated an historic district by the Department of the Interior.
Miami and Erie Canal
The Miami and Erie Canal was vital to the growth and development of Providence. The canal not only brought goods to the village; it brought passengers, both immigrants and frontiersmen. They found the prospect of water travel to have more of an advantage over traditional horse and carriage. Because of the large influx of travelers, Providence grew daily.
Once the canal began operation, the people of Providence experienced a dramatic lifestyle change. The local economy boomed because of the surplus produce, pelts, grain, and other goods that constantly flowed through the village. When the railroads were completed in the 1870s, canal traffic greatly diminished, and the canal was abandoned by the 1900s. The slow pace and low capacity of canal boats was no match for locomotives.
Near the gristmill was Lock No. 44 of the canal system which has been restored. It is now part of Providence Metropark that includes the fully operational Isaac Ludwig mill. The park runs a replica canal boat, The Volunteer, for visitors that travels along the small section of canal and goes through Lock No. 44.
There are still many buildings and structures standing in the Providence area. Some have been kept original while others have been restored. Among these buildings are the following:
- Isaac Ludwig mill, now restored in the Historic Providence District
- Providence Metropark, a member of the Toledo Metroparks system, which features a lookout for the Providence dam
- Providence Township Schools; four buildings are still standing:
- The Perry School (Neowash and Manore road)
- Long School (Heller and Neowash Road)
- Strayer School (Neowash and State Route 295)
- Box School (Box and Jeffers Road)
- St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church, still in use, built in 1845 (the church hall and kitchen were added in 1954)
- Heritage Pursuit - History of Lucas County.
- Rettig, 18
- Huffman, June. (1982) The Providence Record 1981. The Hubbard Company.
- Rettig, D. R. (2000) Providence Metropark teacher's guide: Miami & Erie Canal restoration, home to the canal boat "The Volunteer," Lock #44, the historic Isaac Ludwig Mill &natural areas. Toledo, OH: Metroparks of the Toledo Area.