Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v13n06)
Everything you always wanted to know about the canal...Part Twelve
posted: Mar. 18, 2016
For those readers just discovering this series on the canal now in its 12th part, I will explain why the canal is important and why the Gazette is doing this series. The dam that created the Central Canal was built on the White River in 1936 and the Town of Broad Ripple grew up around it. It is why we are here today. For years the canal has supplied the City of Indianapolis with 60% of its fresh water which is processed for our clean water supply.
An early Indianapolis postcard showing the aqueduct for the Canal over Fall Creek. Note: the caption printed on the postcard is incorrect. It says "Aqueduct over Canal".
By this time in the interview at Citizens Energy Group we had covered all of the canal questions I had received over the years from readers, except for the last one that deals with the aqueduct. I would bet that many of our readers have no idea that there is an aqueduct that the canal travels over on its trip to the downtown processing plant. The one low elevation obstruction to the flow of the original 1836 canal was Fall Creek. If the canal was allowed to connect with the much lower Fall Creek at this intersection, all of the water would flow into Fall Creek and then back into the White River. An aqueduct (a bridge that carries a waterway) was constructed to allow the canal to continue downtown so it could service the businesses there. Remember from installment #1 in issue Volume 12 #18, historically, one use for the canal was to power water wheels at various downtown businesses. It was only later when that use was abandoned as electricity became cheaply available and the canal water was used as a drinking water supply for Indianapolis.
According to Ed Malone, Director of Water Production for Citizens, the original aqueduct failed in 1904 and the current one was built in 1905.
The aqueduct is just north of Pic-A-Part salvage yard, at about 22nd and Milburn Street. It is near the canal entrance to the Citizens Energy White River Water Treatment Plant.
One reader called The Gazette to say that while ice skating down the canal one winter, he skated across the aqueduct (Note: this is a very dangerous thing to do. The canal is always moving great volumes of water toward the treatment facility, even when the surface is frozen. The thin frozen surface can break and then danger ensues). He saw lots of water flowing out of the canal, spilling into Fall Creek below. He wondered why this was happening. Here is that part of the interview:
"The only other question. . . ," I followed up. "was from a guy that called the other day. It was about Fall Creek. He said there is a diversion thing where part of the canal looks like it goes off into Fall Creek. And he said "Why is that?" "
Canal aqueduct over Fall Creek
Looking upstream on the aqueduct, this is just before the canal water enters the treatment plant. Fall Creek can be seen running underneath on the left.
End of Part Twelve