Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Muskingum River’

Cruisin’ Down the Muskingum River on a Sunny Afternoon

River boats

Camping, boating and fishing are popular along the beautiful Muskingum.

While the Muskingum River begins at Coshocton, between Zanesville and Marietta it holds many points of interest. This river is the only river navigable by larger boats within the state of Ohio. That’s all because of its system of eleven dams and locks, still in working order, that extends for 112 miles.

River Ferry 1900 001 (2)

The Coal Run Ferry delivered a load of railroad crossties on horse-drawn wagons across the Muskingum before bridges were built.

The river received its name from the Native Americans, who called it Moos-kin-gung – meaning “Elk Eye River”. That name happened due to the large herds of elk that once roamed this valley. In those early days, the cargo on the river consisted of essentials such as salt, flour, pork and apples. A round trip took three to five weeks to go from Zanesville to Pittsburgh and back via the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers.

Steamer at Lock #3 001 (2)

The steamer approaches Lock #3 at Lowell in the early 1900s.

When steamboats became popular, navigation was rough on the rugged Muskingum River so they designed a system of dams and locks to lift the boats when the elevation changed abruptly. After a boat is secured within the lock, the lock tender closes the gate and opens the valves required to raise or lower the pool level. When the water in the lock chamber has reached the required level, the lock tender opens the through gate just like they did in 1841.

Steamer Marietta stuck on dam at Lock # 1 001 (2)

Steamer Marietta got stuck on the dam when not using the locks.

Sometimes the boats would attempt to go over those rugged spots without using the locks. Once in a while they succeeded, but often they ended up stuck in the river.

River Lorena

The Lorena takes passengers on a pleasure trip down the Muskingum River.

This trip began with a stop at the Lorena Sternwheeler at Zane’s Landing Park in the city of Zanesville. While the original Lorena visited Zanesville in the late 1800s, the present one arrived in 1976 for Zane’s Trace Commemoration. A ride on the sternwheeler gives you a chance to feel the river, as the paddles create a merry sound. Memories of the 1800s ride along with the Lorena.

River Lock 9

Lock #9 at Philo provides a great view of the dam and locks.

Soon Lock 9 at Philo appears with the original lock tender’s house.The falls at the lock sparkle in the sunshine as people stand in the shallow river to fish.

River Ohio Power Plant 1923 001 (2)

The Philo Ohio Power Plant was the first electric plant built along the Muskingum.

In 1923, Philo Ohio Power Company, one of the largest electric plants of that time, was located on an island in the river.

River Hand Powered Locks 001 (2)

The lock tender hand operates the lock at Rokeby Lock #8.

Lock 8, Rokeby Lock at Eagleport, is a special stop along this system of locks, the only hand operated locks still being used in the United States today. In fact, it is believed there is only one other system like this in the world, and that is in China. It was near this lock that General John Hunt Morgan and several hundred cavalry forded the Muskingum River on his raid across Ohio.

River Stockport Inn

Stockport Mill Inn would be a pleasant place to spend an evening.

Beside Lock 6 stands the beautiful Stockport Inn. Today’s Inn was built in 1906 by the Dover brothers; however, there were two mills previously at this site dating back to 1842. This mill was known for its refined flours: Gold Bond, Seal of Ohio, and Pride of the Valley. It’s a perfect place to spend a night as each room has a balcony that overlooks the river. On the weekends, enjoy a tasty meal at Restaurant on the Dam.

River Fishing

Fishermen wade into the river in hopes of a great catch.

During the drive down the river, it is lined with cabins and campers for those that enjoy being near the water. Most have boats at their docks and many slides end in the river. Frequently fishermen are either on the shore or wading nearby waiting for a nibble on their line, and perhaps fish to cook over a campfire in the evening

River Ohio

Imagine early travelers’ surprise upon seeing that the Muskingum River empties into the wide Ohio River at Marietta.

The trip ends at the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory – Marietta. Here the Muskingum River joins the Ohio River to flow eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.

River Lafayette

At the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers stands the Lafayette Hotel.

Some say this beautiful old Lafayette Hotel still holds spirits of many travelers from the past. One nighttime visitor is Mr. Hoag, former owner of the hotel, who appears in his brown derby hat. That’s something not seen by my eyes, but a story heard by my ears.

The locks are open weekends 9:30 – 6:00 from mid May until mid October. Please check their schedule and call ahead if you need to use the locks at another time so a lock tender can be available.

valley-gem-heads-out

While in Marietta, you might want to cruise on the Valley Gem.

Be sure to take time to sit along the Ohio River and enjoy reminiscing about those long ago riverboats that went from Pittsburgh to Zanesville along this route. They carried both passengers and freight. Barges still carry their loads of coal and steel up and down the river, and people enjoy taking a ride in their pleasure boats as well.

Some things have changed, but the Muskingum River has remained the same since the days of ancient visitors. Hope you can enjoy a trip down the Muskingum River sometime soon.

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Drift Along on the Monticello III Canal Boat at Roscoe Village

 

Monticello sign

Look for this sign off Route 83 near Coshocton to find the Canal Boat Landing.

The smoothest ride you’ve ever had!

That describes the trip along the restored Ohio-Erie Canal near Roscoe Village. Two horses, Rock and Bill, slowly walk the original tow path as they gently pull a replica of the canal boats that traveled this same route in the early 1800s. Sit back and relax on this forty minute ride while you listen to the captain tell the story of life on the canal.

Monticello horses

Bill and Rock, two huge draft horses, wait patiently in their stable.

Two Percheron horses pull the Monticello III canal boat quite easily. The hoggee, or horseman, leads them along the tow path. He uses 150′ of rope to guide them as they pull with great ease this flat bottomed boat weighing twenty-five tons.

In 1803, the need for a canal was evident. They would place a boat carrying goods on the Muskingum River, and it would drift downstream to the spot in Marietta where it met the Ohio River. They had no way to get the boat back upstream, so they had to dismantle the boat and carry it piece by piece to be reassembled. The canal eliminated that problem.

Monticello hogie walks horses

The hoggee walks along the original canal towpath as he guides the horses.

Ground breaking for the canal began in 1825.The canal was built by Irish immigrants, who worked for 30 cents a day and four jiggers of whiskey. The need for whiskey came into play to avoid the condition known as canal fever.

First, the canal was dug by hand to a depth of four feet, then lined with clay to make a sturdy bottom. How did they pack the clay? With a sheep-foot roller – a herd of sheep ran over it to smooth it.

Completion occurred in 1832, seven years later. Transportation at that time gave few choices – either a stagecoach or a passenger boat. Rates for the boats were fifty cents a day, which included room and board, while stagecoach fares were typically five cents a mile.

Monticello turning

Monticello III gives a smooth ride that is certain to relax you.

Often three hundred boats traveled on the canal at one time. Passing became the real challenge as their tow ropes could easily get tangled. This intricate job fell to the hoggees, the boys who guided not only the horses, but also the tow ropes. Quite often they were teenage orphans with no other way to find food and shelter.

Former president, James Garfield, worked as a hoggee in 1847 when he was a teenager. The story was told that Garfield fell into the canal so often, he became ill. After that experience, that young man decided that college would be a better choice.

Monticello on the canal

Everyone enjoys their trip down the restored Ohio-Erie Canal.

Captains often lived in the cabin on the boats with their family. The females of the family would be the cooks and do household tasks as they traveled on the canal. All garbage and waste was thrown to the towpath side. So if the cooks needed extra water for cooking they would dip it from the side opposite the towpath.Turtle soup was a favorite treat.

Monticello mileage sign

This sign at the edge of the landing tells distances from the Roscoe Port to Cleveland and Portsmouth.

As humorous as it may sound, there was a speed limit for boats on the canal to keep the banks from eroding. Four miles an hour was the limit and they were fined for speeding. Speed was determined by how long it took to get from one lock to the next.

Monticello map

This map of Ohio shows the route on the eastern side of the Ohio-Erie Canal from Cleveland to Marietta and Portsmouth.

In 1913, a major flood throughout Ohio wiped out the Erie Canal. Parts of it still exist today from Cleveland to Portsmouth. View a bit of history and take the smoothest ride imaginable at Roscoe Village sometime this summer. It’s relaxing!

The canal boat ride at Roscoe Village is seasonal from Memorial Day to Labor Day on Tuesday – Saturday at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 and Sunday at 1:00 and 2:00.

Ohio Beginnings with Rufus Putnam

Putnam Museum Front

Campus Martius Museum in Marietta contains interesting early Ohio history.

How is The Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston, Massachusetts connected to Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio?

After the Revolutionary War, in March, 1786, a group of men met at The Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston to purchase land in the Northwest Territory.  Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper, Samuel Parsons, and Rev. Manasseh Cutler formed the Ohio Company of Associates, also known as The Ohio Company, and purchased what was to become about one-fifth of the state of Ohio.

Putnam Land Office

The Ohio Company Land Office, where Rufus Putnam and his partners worked, is the oldest known building in Ohio. Built in 1788, many hopeful land owners walked the path to its door.

These Revolutionary war soldiers were given land grants in lieu of payment for services rendered during the war. They purchased approximately 1,500,000 acres at roughly eight and a half cents per acre along the Ohio River in southeastern Ohio.

Provisions in this land grant were made for two sections in the center to be set aside for an educational institution. The first land grant college was to be called American Western University, but before opening changed its name to Ohio University.

Putnam Portrait

Rufus Putnam served as a member of the Ohio Company, which laid out the plans for Marietta.

Even though Rufus Putnam. the leader of the Ohio Company, was a self-educated man and did not have any formal schooling after the age of nine, he promoted higher education by serving as a trustee at Ohio University. He also claims a connection to West Point. where he built a fort during the Revolutionary War. Fort Putnam is today being preserved and operated by the United States Army Garrison, West Point.

In his memoirs, which are today at Marietta College, he shared his wish for a better education. One line said, “hence neglecting Spelling and gramer when young I have suffered much through life on that account.” But that didn’t keep him from recording records of all his correspondence, while he also kept a daily journal.

Putnam Sugar

An interesting item on the kitchen table was a cone of sugar wrapped in blue paper from the West Indies, with sugar nippers close by to get the perfect amount of sugar for a cup of coffee or tea. The blue paper had a second use as Persis could use it to dye her spun thread.

Rufus Putnam established the first Ohio Company settlement on the banks of the Ohio River in 1788. This became the first settlement in the Northwest Territory. Adelphia, meaning brotherhood, became its first name, but that was soon changed to Marietta in honor of Queen Marie Antoinette of France.

There the Ohio Company built a fortification to protect themselves from the Indians. They called their stockade, Campus Martius. Rufus Putman’s home was one of a row of plank houses inside this stockade.

A few years later, fortification was no longer needed, so the stockade was disassembled. However, the Putnam house remained at the original site, but with added rooms. He purchased the corner blockhouse for $70 and used its lumber for his house addition.

Putnam Kitchen

This is the original kitchen where the Putnam family prepared and ate their meals.

His wife, Persis and eight children, joined him in Ohio at their new home on the bluff of the Muskingum River. Their home here contained a kitchen, sewing/sitting room and two bedrooms upstairs. Now you can see the need for an addition.

Putnam Spinning Wheel

Mrs. Putnam used the spinning wheel frequently as her seamstress abilities were well known. When Rufus was on his trips for the country, she often had to earn money for essentials by sewing.

Putnam Museum

Treasures of early Ohio can be found inside this building in Marietta.

What’s behind all those windows at Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio today? Inside is the full size house of Rufus Putnam and it still stands where it was built back in 1788. The museum was built around the house in 1931 after the Daughters of American Revolution with assistance from the state of Ohio saved it from destruction.

Putnam 1931

The house is pictured as it was in 1931 before preservation began.

Rufus Putnam served his country faithfully and was respected by his superiors, especially by his favorite leader, George Washington.  It has been said that so long as the history of his country shall be written and read, the part Rufus Putnam played in that history will be found occupying one of its broadest and brightest pages.

Visit Campus Martius Museum to see where the Putnam family lived and learn more about their new life in Ohio. The museum overflows with Ohio history.

Campus Martius Museum is located at 601 Second Street, Marietta, Ohio, on Ohio State Route 7, and minutes from I-77. Plenty of free parking is available and cost of admission is very reasonable.

Marietta Vice Walking Tour Filled with Thieves, Bars and Murders

This island contained an Amusement Park in 1900.

In 1900, Buckley Island contained an Amusement Park during the day, then became a Lawless Wonderland at night.

You had to be bold and brave if you dared walk on the seedy side of town in Marietta, Ohio back in the early 1900s. But Lynne Sturtevant recently led a crowd of fifty on an adventure back to early days as the old sections of Marietta were revisited. Along the way, characters in costume greeted the tour and told of dangerous adventures at that time.

Riverfront man and Lynne, our guide

Riverfront man and Lynne, our guide

Crime was a severe problem all along the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers in Marietta, with bars, bars, and more bars. The Ohio River flowed around a small island, that served as an amusement park during the day, but a whole new crowd arrived in the evening. They enjoyed all the vices of the time – drinking, gambling, prostitution, and murder. Going to the island in the evening had an added enticement of cheap beer. Along the shore beer was twenty-five cents a glass, but on the island, only five cents. The Island, now known as Buckley Island, was a lawless wonderland. If you wanted to do anything illegal, the island was the place!

Old hotel and bar

Notice the popular shadow advertisement of WHISKEY at The Levee House – just above the table tops.

Despicable characters roamed the streets, drinking and arguing over everything imaginable. One man and his wife were each found with bullets in their head after an argument over a wristwatch. The stories told were all true reports of the Marietta newspaper from that time.

Proud bartender

Proud bartender

Dance halls and saloons were the main businesses in town. Shadow advertising can still be seen on many buildings with words like WHISKEY worked right into the brick works.

Along the way, the group met a delightful bartender who told of some of the fights he had witnessed at the bars. The job he hated the most was cleaning the spittoons.

A character portraying Oliver Hyde, mayor of Marietta in 1904, spoke to the group in front of the police station. The building also served as the electric company and the mayor had his office on the top floor. He gave the latest police report describing real events in Marietta in 1904.

Historic Harmar Bridge

Historic Harmar Railroad Bridge

The historic Harmar Railroad Bridge provided a scenic walkway over the Muskingum River. This is the country’s oldest operating railroad swinging bridge, still using a hand crank to swing it open for passing boats. Where the Harmar Historical Village stands today, Fort Harmar existed in 1785 for the protection of the Indians.

Walking over the bridge, one of the roughest sections of town was on Maple Street. A young man, who lived there, told about his neighborhood. He spoke of Mr. and Mrs. Hayes, who were well known local folks. Mrs. Hayes served as a madam, while her husband usually caused problems. Mr. Hayes was very jealous of his wife and accused her of seeing the local bartender. She begged him, “Don’t kill me!”

He did.

Guy from the rough side of town

Guy from the rough side of town

The young man said the Marietta Police had never caught the husband and asked the mayor why he wasn’t working on it. The mayor, in typical mayor fashion said, “It’s under investigation.” The young man told the group to get back over the bridge as quickly as possible as the area was not a safe one.

While visiting a housewife in Sin City, she told of a murder that happened next door to her house. She was hanging out the laundry when she heard a husband and wife fighting next door. The husband yelled, “I’ll break your face right in if you do that again.”

Later she smelled a fire burning in their back yard and hurried to get her clothes off the line. About 5:00 the next morning, there was a knock at her door. At the door stood the next door neighbor. “Good morning, the missus has gotten drunk and fell into the fire and burned right up. She’s always getting drunk.”

When the police arrived at the scene, over half of the woman’s body was severely burned, but they could see severe bruises on her neck. Perhaps she didn’t just fall into the fire, but was pushed. You’ll have to visit to find out…the rest of the story.

A rainy ending to an educational and interesting day

A rainy ending to an educational and interesting day

Rain held off until the very end of the tour, when it came down from the sky in buckets. The wind, rain and lightning made it seem that this place was perhaps still dangerous.

Marietta, Ohio is located at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers in southern Ohio. Take Exit 1 off I -77 in Ohio to experience this delightful town. Characters along the way were provided by Paskawych Entertainment, LLC of Marietta.

Earthship at Blue Rock Station – “House of Trash”

Blue Rock Station entrance sign

Blue Rock Station entrance sign

If you recycle bottles and tires, perhaps you should try to use them to build something. Some of the possibilities are quite surprising.

Just ask Jan and Annie Warmke at Blue Rock Station south of Philo, where you can find their Earthship or “House of Trash” as some call it. They had an intense passion to use whatever they could find to build their home in the country. All of their buildings are composed of recycled materials and pieces of nature.

Annie, the Mother of Creativity, guides the tour of her dream come to fruition. She served as both creator and contractor of Blue Rock Station. With the help of a few interns, mostly college students, projects are designed and completed during the summer months.

Interns are encouraged by Annie to let their minds expand while they try new things, even if they fail. “If you haven’t screwed up at least once, you’re not thinking hard enough.”

Plastic two-liter bottle Greenhouse

Plastic two-liter bottle Greenhouse

A greenhouse built of plastic two liter bottles provides a place to start plants and grow food throughout the year. Over one thousand plastic bottles used to construct it will never need replaced since they don’t decompose.

Annie, the owner and guide, is easily spotted with her pink hat.

Annie, the owner and guide, is easily spotted wearing her pink hat.

Cottages provide housing for overnight guests and/or interns. Made of bales of straw, they’re covered with “earth plaster”. This adobe-like covering consists of mud, straw, milk, salt, flour and linseed oil – so it won’t crack. Pickle jars placed in the ceiling gather outdoor light. Bottle bottoms create beautiful window substitutes.

Outdoor Patio

Outdoor Patio

An outdoor patio makes the perfect place to relax under the shade of the trees. Nearby is one of two composting outdoor toilets, as well as the garden since both need to be in close proximity to the main house, Earthship. Needless to say, pesticides are not used.

Annie has tea prepared for the group inside Earthship. A few mint leaves dropped in the ice tea make it extra refreshing on a very hot day. In addition, salted cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, sandwiches and cookies complete the back to nature table setting. There Annie sits in a comfortable swing, while answering questions from the group.

"House of Trash"

“House of Trash”

Tires, bottles, cans, plastic two liter bottles and milk jugs form the walls of the house. Then this core material is covered with earth plaster and a coat of lime paint to brighten it. With help from old barns being torn down and pressed tin for the ceiling, the house becomes a showplace.

Oven in Kitchen Area

Herbs drying near oven in kitchen area

A unique brick oven in one corner contained guard rails, pipe and even metal rods from old campaign signs for the grill of the oven. On a cold winter day, Annie sometimes wraps in a blanket and curls up on the brick wall to relax, read, or nap.

Due to window placement for maximum use of winter sun, and wall structure which absorbs and releases heat, temperature in the house never goes below 55 degres…with no stove needed, although sometimes used! Rooms are U-shaped, which holds heat extra well. It seems very similar to living in a cave

All roofs collect water into a cistern from which they get water for basic use, but not for drinking. Over the year they collect over 150,000 gallons of water from their rooftops.

Dragon guest cottage

Dragon guest cottage

Something I know works from experience is a solar shower. Water, in a black plastic bag on the roof, gathers heat from the sun. A switch on the end of the bag opens the shower head and produces a nice warm, sometimes hot, shower. However, Annie wants to add a bathtub very soon.

As experiments continue, new ideas come to the forefront that they perhaps wish they would have known about a few years back. Their newest project is solar energy installation. A solar panel with a wind turbine gathers energy in one place, while the house has a small solar panel. More will be installed shortly.

Reservations must be made in advance so either call 740-674-4300 or visit their website at http://www.bluerockstation.com.

Take a drive along the Muskingum River and visit this unusual “House of Trash” or Earthship, as they feel more correctly describes it.  Peace abounds at Blue Rock Station with only nice voices, open hearts, and inquiring minds desired. Perhaps it will inspire you to be more creative with your natural resources…and your trash.

Earthship can easily be reached traveling along the Muskingum River on Route 60. Cross over the Muskingum River to the west on Route 66, North Street. At the stop sign turn left on Old River Road.  In less than a mile you will come to a hill with a fork in the road. There is a Blue Rock Station sign pointing toward the right on Virginia Ridge Road. From then on, follow the Blue Rock Station signs until you reach the gate of the property.

 

 

 

Cruisin’ down the Ohio River with Mark Twain on the Valley Gem

Valley Gem heads down the Muskingum River to its confluence the Ohio River.

Valley Gem heads down the Muskingum River to its confluence with the Ohio River.

Riverboat’s a comin’!

Nothing excited Samuel Clemens more than his time on the riverboats.  The sound of the paddlewheel hitting the water thrilled him, while the changing landscape gave him opportunity to see deer and even Injuns, while sitting in the pilot house.

Some say Clemens received his pen name, Mark Twain, from this passion for the river, since Mark Twain means “mark number two”. The second mark on the water measuring stick signified  twelve feet of water – a safe depth for boats to pass easily.

Breakfast Cruise on Valley Gem

Breakfast Cruise on Valley Gem

Spending time on the Valley Gem, with the charming impersonator of Mark Twain, delighted all passengers. They also enjoyed a tasty breakfast buffet as they cruised the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. Mark Twain, portrayed by Stephen Hollen, greeted everyone with a hearty welcome as they stepped aboard the Valley Gem at Marietta, Ohio.

Immediately his sense of humor became apparent as he strolled from table to table encouaging everyone to try the marinated road possum and grits. His enjoyment in that role quickly ignited the crowd into a happy mood.

View behind the paddle wheel

View behind the paddle wheel

The cruise was a smooth two hour ride up and down the river. Many enjoyed going to the top deck to get a better view and feel the breeze. The paddle wheel created quite a spray so those standing near it received a generous sprinkling. After some fresh air, passengers returned to the main cabin to listen to Mark Twain spin his yarns.

Twain then told of his being born in 1835 at Florida, Missouri – population 99. Growing up,  he was given a big spoon of cod liver oil every day. He remarked that his tongue and body were so slippery, he could have eaten broken glass and it would have passed.

Twain visited everyone.

Twain visited everyone.

At 13, Samuel Clemens became a printer’s apprentice and soon joined his brother Orion’s newspaper, where he discovered he enjoyed writing stories.

A few years later he headed to St. Louis, Missouri for another newspaper job but got sidetracked by falling in love …with the river.

For two years he served as an apprentice receiving $500 at the end of that period. Training was not as easy as it might sound. In order to get a license, pilots had to know the 2,000 miles of the Mississippi like the back of their hand. Even at nighttime, pilots were required to remember the placement of every sandbar and the name of every twist and turn, like Eagles Fork or Johnsons Landing. But Mark Twain said during those years, “I had the time of my life.”

After becoming a full-fledged riverboat pilot, he was paid $250 a month. The only other people in the United States at that time that made $250 a month, besides river pilots, were the vice-president of the United States and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Riverboat pilot was much more profitable than writing fiction!

When riverboat travel became impossible in 1861 due to the Civil War, Mark Twain returned to the world of the newspaper. His adventures led him across the United States from coast to coast as well as to Europe and the Middle East.

After his travels, he settled in Hartford, Conneticut with his wife and family in 1873. That is where he wrote stories based on his memories of growing up in Hannibal, and enjoying the Mississippi River. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn came to life through his pen.

Mark Twain says thanks to each passenger as they leave.

Mark Twain says thanks to each passenger as they leave.

The journey was closed with Mark Twain telling his favorite story, “Golden Arm”. It was the story of a rich family from Hannibal, who always came to the landing to see the riverboats arrive and hear the calliope. Mark Twain even sang a Riverboat Song and had the audience join in on the chorus:

Down the river, Down the river, Oh down the O-hi-o.

I’ll not tell the story though, perhaps the next time he visits Marietta you will get a chance to hear more of his delightful tales.

Later in life Mark Twain uttered this comment: “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’ ”  And Mark Twain was not disappointed.

The Valley Gem is located next door to the Ohio River Museum at 601 Front Street, Marietta, Ohio, one block from Ohio State Route 7, and minutes from I-77.

Steamboat History Flourishes at Ohio River Museum

W.P. Snyder, Jr on the Muskingum River in Marietta, Ohio

W.P. Snyder, Jr on the Muskingum River in Marietta, Ohio

“Say Steam” Those are the special words the guide used when taking pictures of visitors on the steam-powered W.P. Snyder, Jr. at the Marietta River Museum in Marietta, Ohio. You can feel the river beneath your feet as you walk the deck, listening to the guide’s description of life on the river many years ago.

Pilot Wheel of W.P. Snyder, Jr.

Pilot Wheel of W.P. Snyder, Jr.

This early tugboat replaced the mules that walked along the banks of the river towing the barges. Tugboat probably wasn’t the best name for this type of boat, because they didn’t tug anything…they pushed it instead.

W.P. Snyder, Jr. was built in Pittsburgh in 1936 as the result of a terrible winter there. The wooden boats were brutally torn apart by the ice on the Monongahela River, so for the first time, a tugboat was constructed of steel by Carnegie Steel Co, and called W.H. Clingerman.

After years of service, it was retired due to its coal furnaces. In 1955, the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen purchased the boat, now re-named the W.P. Snyder, Jr. for $1.00, and moved it to the banks of the Muskingum River in Marietta. This tugboat is the last intact steam-powered, stern-wheeled tugboat in the United States.

But the effects of weathering made it necessary, in October of 2013, for the W.P. Snyder to leave the dock at Marietta for refurbishing, mainly on the exterior. The trip back had a slight delay because the Ohio River was too high in late May, 2014 for the W.P. Snyder to get under the Putnam Avenue Bridge.

Laundry Room with wringer washer and washboard

Laundry Room with wringer washer and washboard

Pushed back by two antique tugboats, Lady Lois (‘28) and J.S. Lewis (‘31) the W.P. Snyder, Jr is now moored at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, ready for tour.

On board, you will see the Engine Room, where the engineer controlled passage by using not only steam but also electricity. A system of bells could be pulled to signal conditions or problems. There was even a telegraph handy for outside communication.

Officers and crew were provided completely separate living quarters on the upper deck. If at all possible, officers and crew went out of their way to keep from crossing paths. Two separate bathrooms, a laundry room, and kitchen completed the facilities onboard.

Ohio River Museum

Ohio River Museum

While the tugboat draws many visitors to the museum, there are three separate buildings nearby that contain a history of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, and the steamboats that frequented their waters.

An introductory film, History of Steamboats, opens the door to exploration inside the museum. The buildings are filled with models of steamboats, related artifacts, and stories of early life on the river…and much more!

Mirror from Mark Twain's Crystal Palace

Mirror from Mark Twain’s Crystal Palace

Among the historic pieces, the exhibit contains a dug-out canoe that was used as a ferry between Fort Harmer and Marietta. There is even a reminder of Mark Twain through a display of an ornate mirror that hung in the Crystal Palace steamboat, where Mark Twain served as pilot.

Near the river’s edge, a flatboat that was used during Ohio’s early settlement is on display. Close by stands the oldest existing Western Rivers’  steamboat pilothouse from the steamboat, Tell City, which sank in 1917. An interesting section of poles shows the heights of some of the worst floods in Marietta history, three of the worst being : 54.5′ in 1884, 55′ in 1937 and 60.3′ in 1913.

Shanty Boat where folks flew under the radar

Shanty Boat where folks flew under the radar

Don’t miss the old shanty boat, probably from the 1920’s to 1930’s. It possibly could be the oldest surviving shanty boat on the inland river system. People actually lived on these boats or had businesses there. Many of those who lived on the boats were trying to hide from something. Here they could avoid taxes as they were always on the move, and needless to say, the shanty boat provided the perfect place for thieves and lawbreakers, of many sorts, to hide from the law.

These floating shanty boats were banned in 1930 from the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers. However, a friend said when he was a kid in Parkersburg along the Ohio River, there were still shanty boats in the 50’s . Evidentally, more law breakers! The gypsy in me still likes the idea of being able to fly under the radar during those early years with no address, but much freedom.

End your day by cruisin’ down the river on the Valley Gem docked right next door to the Ohio River Museum.

The Ohio River Museum is located at 601 Front Street, Marietta, Ohio, one block from Ohio State Route 7, and minutes from I-77. Plenty of free parking is available and cost of admission is very reasonable.

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