The Ohio-Erie Canal reached Circleville in 1831, linking it to Lake Erie in the north and to the Ohio River in the south. Suddenly there was a market for Pickaway County products. The price of a bushel of grain increased fourfold and more. Rather than driving livestock over the Appalachian Mountains to the eastern market, animals could be processed in the villages and towns along the canal. Breweries, distilleries, mills, iron foundries and tanneries sprang up along its banks.
The canal was short-lived when the steam engine proved to be a quicker mode of transportation and able to reach a broader area. By the 1890s the railroads had reached all 88 counties. In 1904 the last boat came down the Columbus Feeder, entering the main canal at Lockbourne just a few yards north of the Pickaway-Franklin County line. The canal through Pickaway County ceased operation in 1907 when there was a major flood of the Scioto River.
In 1999 the Ohio Department of Natural Resources gave the Pickaway County Historical Society 2.4 miles of the canal on the western edge of Circleville. In 2002, a group of society members saw the historical value to the society and began a fund drive to raise $40,000 to purchase about 20 acres next to the canal where a shelter house was built.