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Visitors to the Delphi Historic Trails network can tour the historical town of Delphi in north-central Indiana by foot or bicycle—or skis in the winter—on old canal towpaths and former railroad corridors. Nearly 10 miles of trail follow the routes of the Monon Railroad and the Wabash and Erie Canal, as well as city streets that pass houses and public buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Laid out in 1828, Delphi became a canal boomtown when the 468-mile cross-state Wabash and Erie Canal arrived in 1840. That era of commercial success ended some 30 years later when the canal became obsolete and railroads became the primary mode of transporting passengers and freight.
Beginning at Canal Park northwest of downtown, you can visit an interpretive museum and a canal-era village with historical structures or experience replica canalboat tours. Tent camping and a few RV sites are also available.
A section of the network called the Underhill Towpath Trail is a good place to start; follow the 1-mile trail north across Washington Street to another section called the Founders Towpath Trail. This 0.5-mile trail loops around to the 0.5-mile Draper North End Trail and passes the restored iron bridge (from 1873) on its way to Founders Point and the “tumble,” where fresh groundwater feeds the canal. Draper Trail swings back past the cutoff to Belt Railroad Trail, a 0.3-mile section of trail along a former railroad that served local merchants and connected to Monon Railroad.
Draper Trail also runs past a replica limekiln from the 1850s canal heydays, as well as a replica warehouse and boathouse, and then back to Washington Street. Picking up the Underhill Towpath Trail heading south, you’ll pass a replica guard lock and a historical railroad baggage depot station.
You’ll pass through a tunnel under a railroad on the way out of town and then another tunnel under US 421. Follow the trail across the Blue Bridge, a 78-foot iron bridge built in 1905 and moved here in 2007. Now you’re on the mile-long VanScoy Towpath Trail, where historical markers provide information on an Irish work camp, the site of Lock #33, and paper mill sites.
At the end of the VanScoy Trail is Sunset Point, featuring a view of Deer Creek, the canal, and the Wabash River. A spur from the river goes to Robbins Trail, a 0.5-mile section along Deer Creek that offers access to Trailhead Park and Deer Creek Falls.
The Robbins Trail turns into Happy Jack’s Loop with a spur to the site of Smith Dairy Farm along the Interurban Trail, a 0.8-mile route. The interconnecting trail system also includes routes along city streets and paths along Campbell Ridge Trail (a 1-mile loop at the south end of VanScoy) and the Monon High Bridge Trail (1.5 miles) beginning at City Park at the corner of East Monroe and North Walnut Streets. The Monon High Bridge Trail stops just short of a circa 1890 railroad bridge that soars some 60 feet over the creek.
To reach the trailhead at Canal Park: From I-65, take Exit 175 toward Delphi on IN 25. Head northeast on IN 25, and go 10.9 miles. Turn left onto Old St. Road 25, and go 2.7 miles. Turn left onto W. Monroe St./US 421. In 0.6 mile turn right onto N. Ninth St. Go 0.2 mile and turn right into the driveway one block past New York St. Take that 0.4 mile to parking at Canal Park.
To find the Monon High Bridge Trail from Canal Park, leave the northeast entrance of the parking lot and turn right onto N. Washington St. Go 0.5 mile and turn left onto Monroe St. In another 0.5 mile turn right onto N. Walnut St. Go about 100 feet and look for parking on your right.
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