Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Floodwall 7

Early life in Portsmouth can be seen in the Stagecoach Mural, Hanging Rock Iron Furnaces, and the Ohio and Erie Canal at its southernmost point.

2000 seems to be the magic number in Portsmouth. 2000 years of Scioto County History on 2000 feet of Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals.

Floodwall Flood

The disastrous Ohio River Flood of 1937 led to the construction of this floodwall.

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.

Floodwall Mounds

The Portsmouth Earthworks is a large mound complex constructed by the Ohio Hopewell Culture from 100 BCE to 500 CE.

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.

Floodwall 9

The Greyhound Bus Station was a popular place during WWII gas rationing. Or you could have joined local legend, Roy Rogers, riding Trigger.

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.

Floodwall 8

Sixteen churches established in the 1800s are featured in this stained glass motif. 

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.

Floodwall Ohio River

The Ohio River flows just outside the flood wall where the U.S. Grant Bridge crosses over to Kentucky. 

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.

Portsmouth Outer Wall

The Ohio River side of the flood wall was begun before the mural side. You can drive along most of the outside of the wall along the Ohio River.

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.

Floodwall Town Mural

Downtown Portsmouth in the 1900s is the cover of the Scioto County Visitors’ Guide. The Steel Industry played a major role in the town’s growth.

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. 

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