Little pieces of Canal Dover’s history can be found on the second floor of the Reeves Carriage House Museum in Dover, Ohio. Each town needs to have their history preserved in some fashion and the Dover Historical Society has found a perfect way to showcase Canal Dover from its founding in 1807 through the Great Flood of 1913.
While this was for a special opening during the winter months, events are held here all year long. Summer is a great time to explore the Reeves Victorian House and Museum as it is open Wednesday through Sunday, noon until 4:00 from June through October 31. Then their spectacular Victorian Christmas display happens from November 11 through December 22.
In 1818, Dover only had five buildings, three of them being taverns. But when in 1825 the Tuscarawas River was included in the layout of the Ohio-Erie Canal, growth became imminent and the first schoolhouse was soon built in a forested area on Fourth Street. Canal Dover became the tolling station on the Tuscarawas as boats traveled from the Ohio River to the Great Lakes.
Soon mills were built along the river banks making steel a growing industry. Naturally, this switch to an industrial area brought with it the arrival of the railroads in 1854. Steel became big business until a coal strike in 1920 closed mills for about a year.
When Jeremiah Reeves desired additional funds for his business operation, local banks refused to give him a loan. So in August, 1903, Mr. Reeves opened his own bank, Reeves Banking and Trust Company. This bank continued in operation until 1982 when it merged with Huntington National Bank.
During WWII, most industries in the state converted their systems to supply the armed forces. Women employed at Reeves Steel made steel castings for military use. There is a historical plaque on the Reeves Home honoring employees who lost their lives in service during WWII.
Even with the presence of mills, Dover’s water supply remained clean and was untreated until 1998. In fact, it was the last city east of the Mississippi to require sterilization of its water.
Their fire department was organized in the 1870s. The original horse drawn, wooden fire wagon on display was probably used by local firefighters. The cart was kept inside the firehouse, then pulled outside by one of the firemen. Horses were then hitched to carry it to the reported fire. While this firewagon had seats, most did not so the firemen had to run along side the wagon as it went to the fire. When someone decided to attach boards alongside the wagon for the firemen to stand on as they rode, these boards became called “running boards” because they saved the men from running.
Telephone companies operated via the switchboard for many years. Here the operator, or operators, would manually transfer each call coming in to the proper person. An old time clock added a touch of yesteryear to the tour.
In 1908, the city was voted “dry” putting 22 saloons and two breweries out of business overnight. The Great Flood of 1913 definitely wet things down for a short time and made many changes in Canal Dover. After 48 straight hours of rain, the Tuscarawas River overflowed its banks with flood waters between three and ten feet deep.This was the end of the Erie Canal but the beginning of plans for Dover Dam to prevent future similar floods from happening.
Upstairs at the Reeves Carriage House Museum contains historic photos, interesting anecdotes, and unusual museum artifacts. The history of Dover tells the story of the United States as well. Every generation helps make our country great and strong.
Reeves Carriage House Museum can be found behind the Reeves Victorian Home off I-77 at exit 83. Take a right on Tuscarawas Avenue, left on W Front Street, right on Wooster Ave, and a left on Iron Avenue. The Home and Museum can be found at 325 E Iron Avenue. Parking is in the rear of the home near the Carriage House Museum.