The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

March 18, 2012

Wabash Valley retains its beauty, history

If you want a history lesson on the Wabash Valley, Ronald Crowder is the one to see. Sue and I recently spent a delightful afternoon south of Covington, Ind., with Ron and his wife Sonna.

They live on River Road, just above where it meets Towpath Road that snakes along the Wabash River to Perrysville. Among other things, Ron can tell you where the few vestiges of the Wabash and Erie Canal can still be seen. The man-made waterway once stretched more than 460 miles and was busy with canal boats from the 1840s through the 1850s. Towpath Road is located on the trail that once adjoined the canal, where horses and mules once walked when they pulled the canal boats.

The labor force that built the canal was made up mainly of Irish immigrants. The workers were nearly evenly divided between Orangemen (Protestants) and Catholics, and there were numerous episodes of violence between the two groups. In one instance the militia was called out to stop the fighting and more than 200 men were arrested and marched to Indianapolis. Several of the men who had fled Ireland because of the famine there were given substantial prison sentences for crimes committed during the violence.

A more peaceful enterprise was the huge maple sugar camp Ron remembered that once existed in his neighborhood. There are pictures of him as a boy at the camp where youngsters were treated to candy made from the sweet sap of the sugar maples. If you drive on River Road when the sap is rising in the maples, you will see blue bags on the trees collecting the sugar water, but it isn’t done on the scale it was in bygone days.

Ron can also show you where the one-room schools once stood where teachers labored mightily to impart the three R’s to their students. The teachers in the small citadels of learning also served as janitor, nurse, athletic director, and anything else that was needed. Henry Rhodes attended tiny Bluff School that was located above River Road. He recalled following an ice storm one winter, he attempted to skate down the hill on Wabash Chapel Road from the school to his home. The endeavor ended with the teacher picking him up on the way home, and transporting him with a horse and buggy to a doctor in Covington, where he was “stitched up.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Blood drive set for Friday

    April 24, 2014

  • Police, Fire Reports

    April 24, 2014

  • One man hospitalized after overnight shooting

    Police continue to investigate an overnight shooting that left one man in the hospital.

    April 24, 2014

  • D118 OKs uniform dress code DANVILLE -- Next school year will usher in a new way of dressing for school for most of Danville District 118's students. School board members voted 4-3 Wednesday night to implement districtwide a uniform standard of dress for all students in grades

    April 24, 2014

  • Alderman organizes diversity talk DANVILLE - Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Davis has helped organize a diversity conference. Diversity is the state of having people who are of different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization, according to a press release. Davis, in a

    April 24, 2014

  • Day care closes for church growth DANVILLE - Growth at Second Church of Christ is causing the closure of a day care that sees 95 children daily. A letter given to parents and published in the Commercial-News this week announced the upcoming closure of the Two by Two Christian Early E

    April 24, 2014

  • CASA planning racy event for fundraiser DANVILLE -- A day at the horse races is the theme for a fundraiser and auction for the local Court Appointed Special Advocates. This is the third year for the CASA's Night at the Races and Hometown Celebrity Auction, scheduled for Friday at the Knigh

    April 24, 2014

  • Fire Calls Firefighters responded to the following calls: Tuesday, 8:43-8:55 a.m. -- A car fire at Kentucky Fried Chicken, 12 N. Bowman Ave. Tuesday, 8:54-9:09 a.m. -- A false alarm at Schlarman Academy, 1307 N. Walnut St. Tuesday, 9:51-9:58 a.m. -- A medical c

    April 24, 2014

  • Police Report Incidents reported to police include: Danville Monday: Battery in the 400 block of Oak Street. Fuel theft at Circle K, 121 S. Gilbert St. Fuel theft at Circle K, 121 S. Gilbert St. Property damage in the 1600 block of East Main Street. Disorderly con

    April 24, 2014

  • Malcolm Dunn Third arrest made in shooting case DANVILLE -- City police arrested a third suspect Tuesday in connection with a triple shooting last week on Danville's east side. Malcolm Dunn, 21, of the 1000 block of Moore Street, was arrested just before 6 p.m. Tuesday as part of a traffic stop by

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

E-edition
AP Video
NCAA basketball
NDN Video
Must Read