CITIES, TOWNSHIPS & OTHER AREAS
|GRAND LAKE ST. MARYS
||A little History about Mercer and
Celina area. The lake lies between Auglaize and Mercer Counties.
St. Marys is on the Auglaize County and Celina is the county seat for
This area has lots of beautiful domed Catholic churches.
Grand Lake St. Marys came into being as a reservoir to supply water
for the Miami & Erie Canal. It was begun in 1837, long before
the days of mechanized equipment.
The lake was constructed by men wielding shovels and axes - they cut
down trees in the great swamp, which was to be a natural storage place
for the water needed to supply the canal and operate its locks.
Seventeen hundred men, mostly Irish and German immigrants, were
employed in building the east and west banks of the reservoir.
They worked from sunrise to sunset. Their wages amounted to 30
cents a day plus one jigger of whisky (much relied on to combat
The lake was completed in 1845 at a cost of $600,000 and, for many
years the 17,500-acre reservoir was the largest artificial body of
water in the world.
The lake has 52 miles of shoreline and is approximately nine miles
long and three miles wide. It is still the largest artificial
body of water in the world built without the use of machinery.
With the opening of the canal, men and women of German heritage came
here on canal boats from Cincinnati, and soon had acquired land for
Early settlers were mostly of English, Irish and French heritage.
Mercer and Auglaize both depend on farming but there were several tire
and bicycle plants around. Some of those plants have closed down
in the last few years..
The completion of the canal and its fee-reservoir also made a vast
difference in living costs. Freight rates dropped from $1.00 for
hauling a bushel of wheat 100 miles to 15 cents for hauling a ton of
wheat the same distance.
The canal did a thriving business until it was supplanted by the
railroads (the Norfolk and Western Railway was constructed through St.
Marys in the late 1860's)
In 1888 and 1889, oil was discovered in the St. Mary area and many
wells were drilled during the oil boom that followed. Some of
the wells were drilled in Great Lake St. Mary's, whose surface was
once studded with derricks.
Grand Lake St. Marys is part of the divide between north and south
waterways of the canal. Water flowing out of the canal to the
east went eventually to Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes, while
water flowing south and west found its way into streams and rivers
(the Ohio River, for one) that are a part of the Mississippi River
From its completion in 1845 until 1915, the lake provided this area
with some of its most colorful history.
In 1915, however, the lake was no longer needed to feed the canal.
The Ohio General Assembly at that time passed an act through which
this body of water and adjacent lands owned by the state were
dedicated and set apart forever for the use of the public, as public
parks or pleasure resorts. Grand Lake St. Marys State Park is
one of the busiest tourist areas in Ohio with approximately 1.053
million visitors to the park.
||Celina was founded in 1834 in a
swampy, wooded area that had to be drained and cleared before it could
be settled. What remained was a level town surrounded by rich
farm fields. When one of the town's founding fathers was
traveling through New York state to get the town plat lithographed, he
came across the town of Salina situated on the edge of Onondaga Lake
near Syracuse. Noting the similarity between Salina and the
newly founded settlement in Ohio, he named the new town Celina.
The spelling was changed to avoid confusion at the post office, or so
the story is told from past legends.
||Fort Recovery was first established in
1793 under the orders from General Anthony wane. It is near the
township of Recovery.
|| Mendon is a small village nestled in
farm country, population 720, located in the northern part of Mercer
County on State Route 707. It is 35 miles west of Lima, Ohio; 60 miles
Southeast of Ft. Wayne, IN; 20 miles South of Van Wert, OH; and 10
miles North of Celina, OH. Mendon can be reached by way of State
Routes 707 or 127. There are many other country roads coming off of
State Route 33 that will also bring you into Mendon.
There are interesting sites to see in Mendon, from the Civil War
Cannon at the town park and historic town hall; an antique shop; craft
shop; to retail stores and local eateries offering good, home cooking.
Mendon has just received a grant to build a new water treatment plant
which is almost completed. The town is always striving to make
improvements for its citizens and businesses.
The lake was constructed from 1837 to 1845 as a feeder for the
Miami-Erie Canal System. It has 52 miles miles of shoreline and is
approximately 9 miles long and 3 miles wide.
is the oldest town in Mercer County. In the early 1800's, Anthony
Shane, a half breed French Ottawa Indian, was a scout for the army of
General Anthony Wayne. As a reward for his services, Shane was given a
land grant by the U.S. Government. Shanes Grant took in the area now
known as the village of Rockford as well as additional land north of
the St. Marys River. The St. Marys was a very important trail between
Piqua and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Originally it was known by the names
Second Crossing of the St. Marys, and Half Way Cross. . On June 23,
1820, Anthony Shane, who operated a trading post near the river, filed
his plot to the town known as Shanesville. Shane lived in Shanesville
until 1832 when he acted as a government agent, accompanying the
Shawnee Indians to Kansas. On June 5, 1866, the village was
incorporated and the name was changed to Shanes Crossing. Then, in
1890 the post office department decided it should have a new name. A
vote was taken and the majority favored the name of Lacine, but the
post office department decided that the villages name should be called
Rockford, and so it was.
Rockford was the original county seat and a bustling
town in its early days. It was the first town in the county to have
street lights and had its own power plant, built in 1899. Underground
pipes were laid to connect the power plant to village stores and
churches, which was their source of heat from the steam that escaped
from the dynamos . Many early businesses included a hotel, opera
house, stave factory, sawmill, handle factory, airport, etc.