LIMA — If you’re looking for some peace and quiet away from the madness, look no further than the Auglaize River.
Fort Amanda Canoe Livery has been owned and operated by Maxine and Darrell Barnes since 1978. What was once a fun family activity has become a family business.
“We had taken a canoe trip from a previous canoe livery on the Auglaize and they were interested in selling it, so we brought it out here and tried it when we had low water,” Maxine Barnes said. “We thought it would be a good thing to do because we like to see people enjoy themselves.”
So, the Shawnee graduates, who purchased the property in 1965, began clearing the 2 acres of land butting up against the river. Now that they’re both 84 years old, the Barneses have been getting help running the day-to-day operations from her grandson and his wife.
The livery at 22638 Dughill Road offers canoe or kayak rentals for those of all ages and all skill levels with routes 5, 8, 10, 12 and 15 miles down the river.
Barnes said it’s a rather simple concept.
“They come here and we take them upriver however far they want to go, and they paddle back down to the livery,” she said. “People just have to call the phone and see what water conditions are like. Right now, we’ve been closed about a month and a half because of low water and no rain — it all just depends on the weather and the water.”
Though they do take walk-ins, Barnes encourages those looking to get on the water to make a reservation since availability depends upon conditions.
“We normally operate from 9 to 5, but sometimes we run over 5 for shorter trips — we just want everybody back before dark,” she explained. “We like to have reservations, especially for Monday through Friday so we do have a driver. It’s just us, so sometimes we have errands to run or doctors appointments, things like that.”
Though the end of summer is right around the corner, Barnes said their season can run into fall depending upon the weather.
“Spring is always the best, when we have the spring rains and the snow runoff,” she said. “It gives the river a considerable amount of water. We also get rains in the fall and sometimes it brings it up too. When the fall weather conditions are right, we do run. We don’t have any set opening or closing dates, it all just depends on the weather and the water.”
To check on river conditions, visit the Fort Amanda Canoe Livery Facebook Page, where announcements are posted. To make a reservation, call their office at 419-657-6782.
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.