Established in 1825, the village of Bolivar was platted in 1830; its development spurred by its location on the Ohio Canal. The short lived Sandy-Beaver Canal connection to Pittsburgh established Bolivar as a featured shipping center, where farmers with their wagons waited in lines a mile long to unload grain via horse-powered elevators into the local mill, operated by James F. Evans.(1) The mill still stands and is currently rented out for office space on Canal Street.
As rail transportation replaced canal operations, growth slowed. This contributed to the current eclectic mix of housing, which boasts many gorgeous buildings from the Canal Era, interspersed with popular new construction over the years. Downtown Bolivar in particular contains many remnants from those by-gone days, with new owners restoring many of the historic buildings to their former glory.
The towpath worn by the hooves of mules and horses along the canal has been rejuvenated as a walking/biking path, thanks to the efforts of the Bolivar community, the Ohio & Erie Canalway, and many generous benefactors and volunteers. The O&E Canal Towpath will stretch from Cleveland to New Philadelphia when it is totally complete.
Fort Laurens was constructed in 1778, and was the site of a British siege where 21 American soldiers lost their lives. Abandoned in 1779, only the outline of the original fort remains. The Fort Laurens Museum houses many artifacts from the fort site. Enclosed by a circular path outdoors, the Tomb of the Unknown Patriot is the resting place of one of the original soldiers.
Reenactments and other special events are held throughout the year as fundraisers toward the eventual rebuilding of the fort.
Visit www.fortlaurens.com and www.friendsoffortlaurens.org for more information.
1- Tuscarawas County Convention & Visitors Bureau.