A Stroll Through History Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals
2000 seems to be the magic number in Portsmouth. 2000 years of Scioto County History on 2000 feet of Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals.
In 1937, a disastrous flood caused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct a flood wall along the Ohio River to prevent the same thing from happening in the future.
While the flood wall served its purpose, it wasn’t very pleasing to the eye. Dr. Louis Chaboudy and his wife, Ava, had visited Steubenville, Ohio in 1992 and were pleased with the murals they saw there. They decided to begin the search for a person who might not only paint pictures of the history of Scioto County, but bring it to life so it would attract visitors to their city.
Robert Dafford, an internationally known muralist, seemed the perfect person for that role and painting began on the largest mural, 20′ x 160′ in 1993. One artist created all 2000′ of the Flood Wall Murals by October of 2002. The remainder of the murals are 20′ x 40′. Whether you are an artist or have little appreciation for fine art, these murals will grab your attention and tell you the story of the changes that have taken place in Portsmouth over the years.
The murals tell the story of the history of the area, and depict all the former factories, the great flood of 1937, sports history and much, much more. See detailed paintings of historical Portsmouth, which include local legends, such as Roy Rogers, Branch Rickey, and the Portsmouth Spartans NFL football team. The Spartans could not survive in the small town of Portsmouth during the depression, and in 1934 were sold to Detroit, where they became the Detroit Lions.
Some surprises appear along the way whether you are walking for the best view, or driving along in your vehicle. Discover that the shoe industry had six factories here in the early 1800s employing over 6,000 people. Look carefully at the mural of the Portsmouth Motorcycle Club and see if you can spot the reflection of the muralist, Robert Dafford, in one of the hubcaps.
After the initial 2000′ were painted, there have been four murals added. One of them depicts famous baseball players from the area, while another shows a bicycle tour from Columbus to Portsmouth.
The great thing is…it’s FREE! Take a leisurely stroll along the murals or view from them the sidewalk across the street for a different perspective. An amazing feature is that there are paintings on both sides of the wall so don’t forget to view the wall from the Ohio River side as well.
Here the flood wall has been designated at the Portsmouth Wall of Fame, where accomplishments of area natives are recognized. Their name is placed beneath a star with an autograph of the person being honored in many cases – Don Gullett, Al Oliver, Roy Rogers, Dan Quayle, Larry Hisle and Gene Tenace being a few of those recognized.
The Portsmouth Flood Wall serves as a great example of how something that serves a needed purpose doesn’t have to be dull or boring. With a little bit of talent, it can brighten up the world.
Portsmouth is located in the southern part of Ohio along back country roads. Your best bet for directions is using your GPS.