Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Ohio River’

Take a Relaxing Visit to Historic Harmar Village

Old Fort Harmar was built near the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers.

At the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, Fort Harmar was the first military fort built in Ohio County. Built under the command of General Josiah Harmar, this 1785 fort was given his name.

This drawing was made by early pioneer, Judge Joseph Gilman.

Its purpose was to keep illegal settlers from squatting there but it proved the opposite as they came and settled because they felt safe from the American Indians with the protection of the fort. The fort was abandoned in 1790 and demolished in 1791. Its location is thought to be under the Ohio River as the river has widened over the years.

Take a trolley ride for interesting historical stories.

The Ohio Company planned out Harmar Village near the fort site across the Muskingum River from downtown Marietta. Today, a trolley tour of Historic Marietta and Harmar is a nice way to get an overview. Then you can go back and see the places that appeal to you. Once you get to the other side of the river, Harmar Village is filled with historical homes, a few unique shops, many dining experiences, museums, and restored train cars.

Historic Harmar Bridge provided a nice walk over the Muskingum River in past years.

Historic Harmar Railroad Bridge, strictly pedestrian in recent years, leads from Front Street in downtown Marietta to Harmar Village but is now closed. It was a scenic walk over the Muskingum River to explore the old restored village. The bridge, which was built in the 1860s is in disrepair and they have a campaign to save the bridge as it was the only working, hand-operated railroad bridge in America. They still operate it during the Harmar Festival for those who would like a ride. All proceeds, of course, go to Save the Bridge.

Putnam House is high on the hill overlooking the town and the rivers.

A beautiful Italianate home can be found high on the hill in Harmar. It was built in 1859 by Douglas Putnam, one of Marietta’s wealthiest men. Putnam was the leader of the abolitionists in the area where he was a major supporter of the Underground Railroad.

He built the home for his wife Eliza who fell in love with that style when traveling through New England. Eliza carefully chose everything that was to go into the house to make it their home. The cost at that time was $60,000.

The family named the house Putnam Place, although many called it Putnam’s Folly. The tower was probably his idea as he could easily see both rivers and the city as well as across the river to Virginia so he could keep a good eye on slave movement. At that time the Ohio River was rather shallow and you could easily ride a horse across it. Later the house was purchased by Harry Knox, a builder of steamboats, and renamed Anchorage.

In recent years, paranormal investigations and tours have also been held at Putnam Villa by the Washington County Historical Society, which hopes to restore it.

Henry Fearing House Museum gives a glimpse of life in the early 1800s.

Harmar seems to overflow with historical homes. The Henry Fearing House Museum gives you a taste of middle-class life during the Victorian era. Fearing invested in the area and had a steamboat enterprise. Built in 1847, today this house holds historical items from Marietta and Washington counties. In 1829, Levi Barber, who was a surveyor and U.S. Congressman, built The Barber House.

The Children’s Toy & Doll Museum has a vast collection of old toys.

The Children’s Toy & Doll Museum gives visitors a glimpse of what toys entertained children during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The house where this hidden treasure is located was built in 1889 by George Strecker, a local boilermaker. They have beautiful displays of dollhouses, circus wagons, dolls from around the world, and many new displays this year.

The Old Post Office has a train display beside it.

The Old Post Office is a center of attraction right beside their train display. Lydia Young served as postmaster here from 1864-1885 in what was also her notary shop. While there aren’t many places for shopping in Harmar, you’ll find several places for delicious food as all have crowds of people at lunchtime.

Busy Bee is a popular family restaurant for breakfast and lunch.

Busy Bee is right next door to the Post Office and has been serving fresh ingredients from local farms since 1944. Everything is made from scratch with breakfast their specialty. Larry loves the area and has plans for starting three new businesses there: a bakery, butcher shop, and distillery.

Harmar Tavern has a friendly bar, indoor dining, and a great patio.

Stop for a meal at Spagna’s Italian Restaurant right next door to Harmar Tavern. Spagna’s offers authentic southern Italian cuisine and an extensive wine list. Or go next door to the tavern, a neighborhood gathering place that almost never closes. They are known for their “Soon to be famous” Fried Bologna Sandwich.

The history of Harmar is told at the edge of town near where the original fort stood.

If you are planning to attend their Fourth of July Celebration or the Sternwheeler Festival, you might enjoy heading to Lookout Point on Harmar Hill. Here you can see many vistas of Marietta as well as the beautiful Ohio and Muskingum Rivers winding their way through the scene. It’s a great place to watch the fireworks! Harmar is a great place to visit any time of the year.

History of Coal in Harrison County

The Coal Mining Museum is in the basement of the Puskarich Public Library.

A Coal Mining Museum has been created to preserve the rich mining heritage of Harrison County Ohio. It can be found on the lower level of the Puskarich Public Library at 200 E. Market St. in Cadiz. Displays are many and detailed with informative signs to describe both the early day and modern mining found in Southeastern Ohio.

After the Puskarich family helped with the half-million-dollar campaign to build the new library in 1986, there was a large area on the lower level that remained empty. Since their family owned and operated the successful Cravat Coal Company, the Puskarichs spearheaded the plan for a Coal Mining Museum. Their family, along with other area coal mining families, presented items for display.

Watch fobs were often gifts from mining companies for advertisement purposes.

During the late 19th century, Harrison County was one of the top coal-producing counties in Ohio until its decline in the 1980s. Items and pictures from those mines plus miners’ tools are on display from various coal companies.

Walking into the museum, you will notice that the walls and ceilings are black, giving you the feeling of being in a dark coal mine.

This Ohio map shows the locations of coal fields at a glance.

Coal is sometimes called “buried sunshine” because it came from plants that originally absorbed energy from the sun. When coal is burned, we are using energy that was created millions of years ago. Along with oil and natural gas, coal is considered a fossil fuel since it traces its beginning to plants that were once alive. Often prints of fossils can be found in a piece of coal.

Jewelry made from coal is showcased in their lobby.

The Coal Mining Museum is a great place to learn how coal is formed, the tools used to mine it, and the heavy equipment used in strip mining. Historic photographs line the walls giving you a better understanding of mining and the size of equipment used.

Universal Newsreel photographer captures the moment when Ida Mae is allowed back in the mine.

One of those photos shows Ida Mae Stull, the first woman coal miner, dressed for the mines. Ida was one of 18 children and carried a lantern to the mines for her father when she was six. Ida enjoyed digging coal and mined six or seven cars a day by the age of 30. Her pay for the day was $2 but that paid the mortgage on her property and kept her off charity. Legal action then made it illegal for women to work in the mines but in one year she won her case and was back doing what she loved – digging coal. Ida lived to the age of 84.

The Watts Coal Car made in Barnesville was donated by the Cravat Coal Company.

A featured display shows an actual Watts Car loaded with coal and equipment in front of a large photo of the entrance of a deep mine. Watts Cars were made in nearby Barnesville and this car was donated by the Cravat Coal Company.

Bird cages were an early safety feature in the mines. If a bird died, the men had to leave quickly.

Another interesting display shows safety measures in the mine. A birdcage is displayed which was the earliest way of telling if the mine was safe for miners. If the bird died, they knew the miners had to leave as quickly as possible to escape the deadly gas in the mine. Later methods show rescue kits provided for the miners with oxygen tanks that would last up to an hour that would last up to one hour.

Mines paid in scrip which could only be used at their company store.

Of special interest were the various scrips used as payment to the coal miners. In this way, they had to buy everything from the company store. These people really did “Owe their soul to the company store.”

The miner’s dinner pail hung from a nail in the mine to keep the rats out.

Everyone went to work swinging their dinner pail. If they were lucky, they might have a West Virginia ham sandwich inside. By the way, that ham is what we call bologna. Miners always left something in their dinner pail in case there would happen to be a cave-in. If they had a lucky day, on the way home they would give their dinner pail to one of the children so they could have a snack.

The GEM of Egypt was a power shovel used for strip mining.

Pictures show some of the large machines that mined the coal on ground level. These included the GEM of Egypt (Giant Excavating Machine at Egypt Valley Mine) and the Mountaineer. In 1955, Mountaineer was the first of the super strippers to work in the coalfields around Cadiz.

Tour buses came to see the Mountaineer, the largest mobile land machine ever produced.

A beautiful 99-seat theater shows films about the coal industry and its history. There is a video presentation produced by AEP telling of the conversion of coal to electricity. Students seeing the video realize how much happens before they can turn on their light switch at home.

A coal crew works at Short Creek mine in 1910.

A Coal Miners’ Reunion is being planned for May in conjunction with the annual Harrison Coal and Reclamation Park dinner auction. All miners past and present are invited to attend.

Coal was delivered by barge on the Ohio River.

The Puskarich Public Library and the History of Coal Museum are open Monday through Thursday from 9 am – 8 pm and Friday from 9am – 5pm. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. Check out their website at www.thecoalmuseum.com for more information.

If you enjoy history, you are sure to enjoy all that has been accumulated at the Coal Mining Museum in Cadiz.

Sistersville West Virginia Oil Well History

Sistersville’s rich history begins with George Washington really sleeping there in 1770 when he surveyed the Ohio Valley. In his journal, Washington called this stretch of the river “the Long Reach of the Ohio River.”  The river is broad and deep here with hills covered in trees for as far as the eye can see.

Charles Wells was the first to settle here permanently in 1802 naming his settlement Wells’ Landing. While Wells was primarily a farmer, he also served as a representative in the Virginia state legislature. He’s remembered for having fathered 22 children by two wives. Child 20 was named Twenty and 21 Enough. But Betsy came along as child 22.

When he died in 1815, Wells bequeathed the property that makes up much of the business district of the present town to two of his daughters, 17 and 18, named Sarah and Delilah. Each of the children received some property at this time.

The Wells sisters were good businesswomen and laid out the land into 96 lots with eight streets. The town is named for them, Sistersville.

The Sistersville / Fly Ferry still operates to this day across the Ohio River.

In 1817, the Sistersville Ferry was started to take passengers across the Ohio River to Fly, Ohio. It is the oldest ferry in West Virginia and continues to operate until this day.

Before the Civil War, a 51-man military unit, the Sisterville Blues was formed. However, when fighting began, some of these men joined the Confederate Army while others went to the Union Army.  The great-granddaughters of Charles Wells had to hide their Confederate flag behind the wallpaper in their dining room.

When the Civil War ended, Sistersville returned to its quiet farm community. Their first public school was built in 1869 at a cost of $4,000. School lasted only four months then with the teacher being paid  $30 a month.

Peace and quiet came to an end in 1892 when oil was discovered in Pole Cat Hollow just up the river from Sistersville. Quickly, the Sistersville Oil Field began producing over 16,000 barrels of oil a day at 55 cents a barrel. This meant an increase in oil field workers and Sistersville boomed from a town of 600 to one of 12,000. Money flowed in that town as well as the oil wells.

The Big Moses Well is often said to be West Virginia’s greatest oil strike.

Twenty-two miles east of Sistersville, The Big Moses Well drilled on the farm of Moses Spencer is attributed as being the greatest oil well in W.V. Drilled in September 1894, it had a daily capacity of 100 million cu.ft. This well blew until December 1895.

You can imagine all the businesses that opened for so many new residents. Banks, a newspaper, boarding houses and of course, saloons, gambling parlors and brothels, many of which were located on Sinner’s Boulevard. With this quick growth in population, many lived in houseboats called floating shanties along the riverbanks.  Others lived in oil field shacks, which cost about $500. The only inside plumbing was usually a cold water faucet in the kitchen with outdoor toilets on every property.

This is the Sistersville view from the other side of the Ohio River.

The well-to-do lived in beautiful homes and five of them are still in existence today in Sistersville on Main Street. As the city grew, new sections opened. Old Rough and Ready, Cow House, and Happy Hollow are a few of the descriptively named neighborhoods. A washerwoman’s house in Happy Hollow bore the sign “Men’s Working Clothes Laundered While You Wait.”

During the oil boom, Sistersville imposed heavy taxes on saloon keepers and gambling house owners. The city also offered bonds for sale to finance improvements. In 1890, water works and a sewer system were installed. All the streets and alleys were paved with brick. A trolley line was built to connect Sistersville with its neighbors, Paden City and New Martinsville to the north and Friendly to the south.

This shows the town of Sistersville during its boom days.

The boom days produced an interesting mix of residents. The original farmers, business people, oil field workers, hooligans, and prostitutes lived side by side among oil derricks and pumping wells. A city resident who was a child during these heady days reported that Madam Stoddard, proprietor of a “sporting house,” was loved by the town’s children. Every year when the circus came to town, Madam Stoddard had her butler round up all the neighborhood children and take them to see the show. The Madam also happened to be the sister of the chief of police.

More respectable forms of entertainment also grew. Private social clubs were formed such as the Americus Club, The Sistersville Music and Literary Club, and the “selective, exclusive” Sistersville Mandolin and Guitar Society.

In the 1890s, Sistersville had three thriving theaters: the Columbia, the Auditorium, and Olsen’s Opera House. The Columbia specialized in vaudeville, and the Auditorium could accommodate 1,000 patrons. For less than a dollar, a person could enjoy a performance by the Boston Lyric Opera Company. Silent film star Ben Turpin performed at the Comique, a nightclub.

The Wells Inn opened in 1895 to give food and lodging to the oil field workers.

The Wells Inn was built in 1895 by Charles Wells’ grandson, Ephraim. It had 35 rooms, a bar, and a dining room. During boom days, when there were several hotels in Sistersville, the Wells Inn was considered the most elegant. Today it is the only hotel in town, and it has been nicely renovated.

In 1911, the Little Sister well was drilled in the Big Injun Sand to a depth of 1481 feet and was in operation for many years. That derrick is being restored by Quaker State Oil Refining Corp. and The W.V. Oil and Gas Festival, Inc.

Today Sistersville has an excellent display of the Little Sister Well on the banks of the Ohio River. While visiting, you’ll want to be certain to take a ride on the Sistersville/Fly Ferry.

Tour Historic Fort Steuben

Fort Steuben captures the spirit of America and represents the opening of the West after the Revolutionary War when settlers could finally afford to purchase land. The first seven ranges of the Northwest Territory along the Ohio River needed to be surveyed into sections before being sold to those settlers.

This original Fort Steuben cornerstone, erected in 1786, has been preserved.

In 1787, Fort Steuben was constructed to protect the surveyors from the Indians as well as prevent squatters from coming across the Ohio River from Virginia. The Federal Government wanted to sell this land so made it illegal for those early pioneers to cross the river and settle without purchase.

Here’s an overview of some of the buildings inside the fort.

Major John Hamtramck was responsible for getting the fort built. It was named for Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a drillmaster who served under General George Washington in the Revolutionary War. It’s easy to see how Steubenville, Ohio received its name. It was the perfect place for a defense with the Ohio River to the east, a bank of hills on the west, and a nice plateau on which to build. Its location was mid-way between Pittsburgh and Wheeling.

One hundred fifty soldiers guarded this fort. There was a lookout station where they could easily watch the Ohio River. However, after one year, the fort was abandoned and never used again.

The University of Steubenville holds an annual archaeological dig here.

Some say that in 1790, the fort burned but archaeological digs have shown no evidence of ashes or burnt objects. Others think that perhaps settlers dismantled the buildings and moved them to a place where they were going to live.

Some items found in the dig are displayed inside the Welcome Center.

Every year since 1978, the University of Steubenville has conducted a summer session on the grounds of the former fort. Their archaeological dig has discovered many discarded items from that time and some are on display at the Fort Steuben Visitors Center while others can be found at the University of Steubenville.

The hospital included a surgeon and a shelf filled with medical supplies.

Several times over the years, people had been interested in reconstructing the fort, but it wasn’t until 1986 that two ladies became enthusiastic about the project after attending a lecture by the archaeologists. Their enthusiasm led to the community becoming involved in the project. It began in 1989 but it wasn’t until 2009 that the fort was completed.

Nutcracker Village happens each year during November and December.

Fort Steuben Park has become a central part of community activities as this is where they hold the Dean Martin Celebration, Nutcracker Village, Farmers’ Market, 4th of July Fireworks, and weekly concerts in Berkman Amphitheater during the summer months. The fort is a private effort funded by local supporters and is staffed with a director and many helpful volunteers.

The table in the Officers’ Quarters was used for dining and as a place to spread out maps of the surveyors.

Taking a self-guided tour or touring the fort with a trained interpreter in this reconstructed village gives you a glimpse of what life was like over 230 years ago. There are seven buildings in the complex where you will find posted stories of the trials and tribulations suffered without today’s modern conveniences. Step inside the Officer’s Quarters, Hospital, Commissary, or Guard House to learn their stories.

The original Federal Land Office, where plots of land were sold, was moved close to the fort.

A special feature is the Federal Land Office, the first one built in the United States in 1800. The original building has been moved near the fort. There seemed to be a natural connection as this Land Office was where people came to buy the land after it had been surveyed. The agent and his family lived in the Land Office cabin.

The agent and his family lived inside the Land Office.

The land was measured off in plots of one square mile, which would be 640 acres. A settler could purchase a square mile for $1 an acre but had to buy 640 acres. Later, those plots were divided and settlers could purchase 320 acres for $2 an acre. Some consider this Ohio’s Ellis Island as it was at the Land Office that people started new lives.

Berkman Amphitheater has weekly concerts during the summer months.

The outstanding Visitors’ Center is open all year long while Fort Steuben is open from May through October. Hours for both are from 10 am – 4 pm. Admission to the fort is $10 for adults and $7 for students 6-12. Those under six are admitted free.

If you enjoy history, you’re sure to enjoy visiting the Welcome Center and Fort Steuben.

Explore Nearby Remnants of Ohio-Erie Canal

Ground breaking for the Ohio-Erie Canal took place in Newark on July 4, 1825 with Governor DeWitt Clinton, a Master Mason of New York, taking the first shovelful.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson actually discussed the idea of a canal from Lake Erie to the Ohio River back in 1784. It wasn’t until July 4, 1825, that ground was broken for the Ohio-Erie Canal at Newark, Ohio to move goods more efficiently across Ohio.

This map shows major canal stops but not all of the branches.

Amazing as it seems these canals were hand-dug with shovel and wheelbarrow and sometimes mules pulling drag lines. The canal was about 40′ wide at water level and 26′ wide at the bottom with a depth of about 4′. Farmers and townspeople started digging the canal but were grateful for assistance from German and Irish immigrants.

Pay for canal workers was 30 cents a day plus room, board, and a daily ration of whiskey. The whiskey was to help fight off the Shakes, which happened due to the frequency of malaria on the mosquito infested waters.

Many have enjoyed a ride on the Monticello III at an old section of the canal in Roscoe Village.

Many of us are familiar with the gorgeous towpaths that encourage biking and hiking along the old canal. Perhaps you were lucky enough to have ridden on the Monticello III at Roscoe Village as the horses still pull it along the old canal. However, there are pieces still visible from that early canal that go unnoticed here in central Ohio. Here is a sampling of some of those canal remnants.

New Philadelphia- Lock 13

Lock 13 – New Philadelphia was open until the disastrous flood of 1913.

There were 15 locks in Tuscarawas County. Lock 13 can be found south of US-250 near New Towne Mall in New Philadelphia. Many have memories of using this spot for childhood adventures when it was filled with brush at Blake’s Mill. Now it is cleared and there is an Ohio Historical Maker in place.

The canal was responsible for bringing more commerce to Ohio. Then farmers, lumberjacks, and coal miners could get their products to the Ohio River or Lake Erie.

Tuscarawas – Upper Trenton Lock

Lock 15 – Upper Trenton Lock was replaced with concrete walls after a flood in 1907.

Lock 15 was built of sandstone block and named for the nearby town of Trenton, which is now Tuscarawas. There were several warehouses at Trenton where merchants would bring their goods for shipment to all parts of Ohio. Today, the area has been made into a relaxing historical spot with a footbridge built over the canal.

Just down the road a few hundred feet is Lock 16 , Lower Trenton Lock. The lock tender lived on this site and took care of both locks. Both locks are on the west side of SR-416 with the Tuscarawas River on the east side.

Lock Seventeen

This old mill, Wilson’s Feed Mill, still stands in the village of Lock Seventeen.

Lock 17 was destroyed years ago when US-36 was widened. A small village called Lock Seventeen can be found here today. There are several homes, and an old mill, Wilson’s Feed Mill, that was most likely used during the canal days.

Loren Lindon shared the history of Beersheba and guided me to the mill and cemetery as it is today.

Life-long resident, Loren Lindon, told about its previous history as Beersheba, a Moravian village. The Delaware and Cherokee Indians made Beersheba a regular stop and several are buried in the cemetery there.

Newcomerstown – Canal Ditch

This deep ditch behind the hardware store has been saved as a reminder of those early canal days.

On the corner of Canal Street and Goodrich Street, you can easily see the saved ditch that was once part of the canal. The little red house at the end is said to have a foundation actually built on a wall of the old canal.

During canal days, this building was Miskimen’s Feed and Grain Mill with the canal running just north of it.

Temperance Tavern remains in Newcomerstown as a museum today. During canal days, that tavern, which served no alcohol, was a great place for travelers to get a great meal and spend the night.

Roscoe Village – Triple Locks

Walhonding Triple Locks Feeder Canal is located near the Visitors Center at Roscoe Village.

Branch canals fed into the main channel. Near Roscoe Village are well-preserved triple locks from the old Walhonding feeder. After the flood of 1913, much of the canal had a difficult time with repairs.

Triple Locks found a new purpose. It furnished water to a hydro-electric plant in Roscoe until 1950. Today, REACT Memorial Park, formerly Triple Locks Park, provides a beautiful, relaxing place for a picnic. Steps into the locks give visitors a chance to walk on the canal bed and see the stonework.

The Ohio–Erie Canal covered 308 miles with 146 locks so was quite extensive. The canal boats, which were 70-80′ long and 14′ wide, were pulled by a team of horses or mules who walked along the towpath. Large loads of cargo might require six horses, while a passenger boat would only need two.

This mural on the Portsmouth Floodwall shows the canal near its ending at the Ohio River.

Take a trip back in history and drive along the canal route. View some of these sandstone pieces still in existence from Cleveland to Portsmouth.

The advent of the railroads put a halt to travel on the canal. The trains could go 55mph, 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s interesting to note that the first locomotive came to Coshocton County on a canal boat. Assembly required!

Discover Marietta with Historic Trolley Tour

 


Trolley on Brick Street

The Marietta Trolley explores the city on those old brick streets.

   When Harley Noland opened his restaurant in Marietta, he began thinking of ways that could bring more tourists into the area. That was when the idea of a trolley struck him. This was twenty-five years ago, and the Marietta Trolley has been making tours ever since.

Levee House

The Levee House was a popular place to dine along the river.

   His restaurant, The Levee House, was located on the Ohio River making it convenient to have a Bed & Breakfast nearby on a historic riverboat, CLAIRE E. Both of those businesses are no longer in operation but the trolley lives on.

Harley

Guide Harley Noland brought the trolley to life again about 25 years ago.

   Sometimes Harley still gives the trolley’s guided tour, but there are also several local historians that help with that side of the project now. Each of them has wonderful factual knowledge of the area and tells accurate stories of those early pioneers who settled at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers.

   This is the perfect way to see the highlights of the city while traveling their old brick streets and learn about its history. The city has an abundance of beautiful Victorian homes, churches, earthworks and historic spots that will have you going back for a second look. There’s history on every corner!

   This year the trolley ride begins on Front Street at the Armory, which is the new home of the Marietta/Washington County Visitors Bureau. Then begins the ninety minute narrated tour of Marietta on the trolley made of mahogany with a great speaker system for easy listening.

Westward Monument

The Start Westward monument marks the 150th anniversary in 1938 of the signing of the Northwest Treaty Ordinance.

   Coming from the East Coast, the settlers designated the area along the Muskingum River as “The Commons”. Today there stands a monument to the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Northwest Territory Ordinance. This Memorial to the Start Westward of the United States was carved in 1938 by Gutzon Borglum, the same man who carved Mount Rushmore and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

shanty-boat

Ohio River Museum displays a shanty boat, which floated a family from job to job.

   A stop at the Ohio River Museum focuses on the role of the rivers in the expansion of our country. It gives a chance to view the last shanty boat, which is a complete house that people lived on. There is also the oldest pilot house in the United States close by.

w-p-snyder-jr

Stop back and take a tour of the W.P. Snyder, Jr to learn more about early riverboats.

   The Adventure Galley was the first flatboat to arrive in Ohio from Pittsburgh. The W.P. Snyder, Jr.. is now docked nearby and the last coal-fired, steam-powered sternwheel towboat to have operated on the Ohio River.

   Sacra Via, “Sacred Way”, is an ancient path from the Muskingum River to the earthworks in Marietta. The pathway was surrounded by earthen embankments about twenty-six feet high and was covered with mollusk shells from the river so that it sparkled in the moonlight.

   The mounds are the site of a Winter Solstice Sunset Watch and it is strongly believed these mounds were placed here for an astrological alignment. This site has not eroded in 2000 years due to the heavy clay used to build it up.

Conus Mound

Conus in Mound Cemetery was an ancient burial ground.

   Mound Cemetery contains Conus Mound, a burial mound surrounded by an earthen wall and a dry moat. This was used for burial and ceremonial purposes. The cemetery surrounding it has more Revolutionary war officers than any other cemetery in the United States.

Oil House

This was home to an early family who made their living from the oil fields.

   A bubbling black substance coming out of the ground was put on joints and felt to be a healing compound. It was called Panther Water and used as medicine. When its true purpose was discovered, the crude oil in this town made many men rich. That gives a reason for many of the lovely homes in the area.

Rufus Dawes House

Rufus Dawes house was the boyhood home of U.S. V.P. Charles Dawes, who was also a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

   An interesting sidelight of the tour are the flood markings on many of the downtown buildings showing how high the flood waters came.  1913 looked like the year of a very high flood.  Many times the flood marks were up to the second story of the old brick buildings. Many of the rich built their homes on terraces to avoid the flood waters.

Newest Mansion

The newest mansion was built by a present-day entrepreneur who makes refrigerator magnets.

   But not all of Marietta’s lovely homes are old. One pillared house was built in the last 17 years by a man who manufactures something you wouldn’t think would be a million dollar business – refrigerator magnets.

The Castle

The historic Castle was built in 1855 at a cost of $10,000.

   The location of The Castle today sets on grounds that were originally used by a potter and his wife. It would have been one of the earliest pottery manufacturing locations in the Northwest Territory. Many prominent Marietta residents lived here including Ohio Senator Theodore Davis. Today it is open as a historical museum to honor the legacy of The Castle families as well as provides educational and cultural activities to learn more about its connection to Ohio history.

St Mary's

The Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption is only one of the many historic churches on the tour.

   The Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption was a stop off the trolley to view the spectacular interior, which takes one back to its European roots. The church was consecrated in 1909. The beautiful stained glass windows were created in Munich, Germany. There are nearly 140 images of angels throughout the church. Large angels bearing palm branches and torches can be found surrounding the sanctuary while cherubs adorn each column.

   Beauty like this would not have been normally seen at this time in history or even today for that matter. Many say it compares favorably with Basilicas in Europe.

harmar-historic-bridge

This Pedestrian bridge over the Muskingum River is a pleasant stroll from downtown Marietta.

   Fort Harmar, the first frontier fort in Ohio Country, was situated on the Muskingum River, called the easy way west. Built in 1785, it was named for General Josiah Harmar. He had been ordered by the United States Army to build a fort here to discourage illegal settlers from squatting there. It did just the opposite as made them feel protected by the fort nearby. Tall masted sailing ships were later built here.

Douglas Putnam Place

Anchorage was built on the hill in Harmar by abolitionist Douglas Putnam in 1859.

   The Douglas Putnam House sits high on the hill overlooking the river in the Harmar district. He was the leader of the abolitionist society in Marietta. As one of the wealthiest members, his support of the UGRR was not surpassed. From his house, you could see Virginia on the other side of the river, which at that time was not a real barrier as it was shallow enough to be crossed on horseback.

River Lafayette

The Lafayette is the oldest hotel in Marietta…and haunted.

   The trolley tour is one of the most popular tours in the Marietta area. Parking is free at the Marietta – Washington County CVB at 241 Front Street. Hop on the trolley Tuesday through Saturday during July and August at 10:00 to experience a glimpse of history.

   It’s a great way to discover Marietta!

Confluence Most Beautiful

Putnam said that where the Muskingum meets the Ohio River was the prettiest sight he had ever seen.

Take Exit 1 in Ohio off I-77 to Pike Street. Continue west on Pike Street until it ends at the Lafayette Hotel. Take a right and the Visitors Bureau will be at 241 Front Street. Buy your trolley ticket when you get on the trolley.

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.

Summertime Drive in Southeastern Ohio

Something my family has always done, anytime of the year, is take a Sunday drive. This Sunday my goal was the Fly Ferry, but along the way there were some interesting spots as well. Come ride with me!

Willow Island Hydroelectric PlantFor some reason, power plants attract me! This Willow Island Hydroelectric Plant was located across the Ohio River on my drive going up the river from Marietta, Ohio.

Farmers MarketIt was the perfect time of year for a Farmers Market to pick up some fresh Marietta tomatoes, sweet corn and a couple pieces of fudge. Valley View Farm Market even had a U-Pic section to pick your own peppers and tomatoes.

The JugThe Jug Restaurant in Newport, Ohio was a great stop for a refreshing drink and a chance to sit along the Ohio River for a while. They had a great mural of old cars on the side of their building as well as picnic tables and a nearby shelter.

Father son walkIt’s always nice to see families enjoying the day together. Here father and son walk along the pier as they enjoy the river scene.

TugboatThis Illinois tugboat going up the river was pushing thirty barges. Later in the day they came back loaded and covered. People were guessing they were loaded with steel.

Fly FerryReached the Fly Ferry in time for a couple rides at $1 per person from Fly, Ohio to Sistersville, WV. One time there were several motorcycles riding along.

Restaurant SignThe Riverview Restaurant is a great place for a tasty lunch while watching the river activity out the window. Guess that’s why they call is Riverview! Had to agree with this sign on their wall next to a picture of John Wayne.

PipelineHeading home over a crooked back road made for a perfect ending for the day. Along the way the cows were learning to live with the pipeline that was invading their pasture.

Ohio FarmlandMost of the way, farmland and beautiful homes and barns reminded me of a saying:

“In winter’s chill or summer’s heat, a farmer works so the world can eat.”

Seneca LakeAlmost home but stopped by Seneca Lake for a peaceful time by the water. This picture looks out from the dam area to that popular island for boaters.  Guess you can tell that hanging out near the water is a favorite pastime of mine.

Ice Cream ConeOne last stop before home to get a favorite ice cream cone from Orr’s Drive-In. Always enjoy that raspberry twist!

Maybe you can enjoy a Sunday drive in the country sometime soon. Actually, any day will work for me.

 

 

Ohio River Ferryboat Festival – 200th Anniversary Fly-Sistersville Ferry

Fly Ferry

The Fly-Sistersville Ferry provides a relaxing way to cross the Ohio River.

Floating by ferry on the Ohio River brings pictures to mind of days gone by. Drive your car onto the ferry, or walk on – either way you’re sure to enjoy a ride to the other side. No bridges exist close by.

Fly Sistersville Vendors

Vendors line the streets on the Sisterville side of the river.

During the Ohio River Ferryboat Festival on July 28-30, crowds fill both sides of the Ohio River at Fly, Ohio and Sistersville, West Virginia. For only a dollar, you can walk on the boat, float across and check out the activities on the other side. Or you can drive on board for five dollars. The ride across takes about eight minutes.

This ferry began many years ago in 1817 so this happens to be the 200th Anniversary of a ferryboat crossing at what everyone calls the “Long Reach”. This is one of those rare places on the Ohio River where there’s a twenty mile stretch of river without any bends.

Fly Kiwanis

The Kiwanis was one of many ferries used on the Ohio River.

In those early days the Ohio River wasn’t nearly as deep as it is today. At that time horses pulled the ferry, which was basically a wooden platform, across the Ohio while guided by a rope. If it was an easy load, only one horse was needed, but larger loads of stagecoaches and animals might require two horses. Thus our present term of one, two, or four horsepower.

Today the Sisterville-Fly Ferry is the only ferry still operating on the Ohio-West Virginia border. Now it’s only open from the first of May until the end of September from Thursday thru Sunday. Bo is the only operator but he enjoys his retirement years as captain of the ferry.

Fly-Bo

Bo always serves as pilot on the only ferry on the Ohio-WV border.

They got lucky at finding their latest captain, as Bo is a former member of the United States Coast Guard. After the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Ohio River must seem fairly calm. He especially enjoys letting children come up in his cabin and let’s them “drive” the ferry for a little while.

Fly Ferry close up

Take a peaceful ride on the Ohio River during the Ohio Ferryboat Festival.

During last year’s festival over a thousand people walked onto the ferry for crossing and nearly seventy-five cars. The ferry can hold eight cars or trucks at a time if they’re parked bumper to bumper. Motorcycles find it a great shortcut and once in a while even a tractor trailer gets on board.

Fly Sistersville Wrestling 2

Wrestling provides entertainment on the Sisterville side.

While the ferryboat is the main reason for the festival, there are many other activities on both sides of the river. Each town does their own promotions and plans their own entertainment. But they visit back and forth. The mayor of Sistersville often rides across on the ferry to Fly.

Fly Dick Pavlov

Dick Pavlov with his banjo traveled to Fly last year to join in the entertainment.

Fly Price Sisters

The Price Sisters, Leanna and Lauren, of Bluegrass fame from nearby Sardis draw large crowds of friends and fans.

On the Fly side, many groups perform throughout the day with everything from Bluegrass music to Steel Drums and accordion. A couple special highlights are the Clark Family of Ohio Opry and local girls, the Price Sisters, who are Bluegrass stars.

Fly George Washington

George Washington & Co. describes life during Washington’s trip on the Ohio River.

George Washington & Co explain the story of George Washington’s camp at the edge of what is today Fly, Ohio. He camped there during a survey trip back in 1770. They dress in costumes of the 1770s and tell of riding down the Ohio River in two canoes with two Indian guides. It took a couple weeks to paddle from Fort Pitt to Mount Pleasant.

Fly children

It’s a great day for families to acquaint their children with the Ohio River stories.

Join Fly and Sistersville for the 200th Anniversary of the ferry this July. Not only will you enjoy a ride on the ferry, but you’ll find delightful vendors and entertainment on both sides of the Ohio River

It’s definitely the only Ferry to Fly.

Fly, Ohio is located in southern Ohio along Route 7. From Wheeling, it’s about 47 miles south on Route 7. The fastest route would be off I-77 and take Route 7 North at Exit 1. It’s a scenic route anyway you travel!

Down the Ohio River with Charles Dickens

messenger

The steamboat Messenger carried the Dickens party down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati.

A fine broad river always, but in some parts much wider than in others, and then there is usually a green island, covered with trees, dividing it into two streams.”

In 1842 at the age of 30, Charles Dickens made his first visit to America with his wife Kate, her maid Anne Brown, and Charles’ traveling secretary George Putnam. As part of their tour, the group boarded the steamboat Messenger in Pittsburgh to flow down the Ohio River to Cincinnati – a three day tour.

The Messenger held some forty passengers on board, exclusive of the poorer persons on the lower deck. Dickens wondered that its construction would make any journey safe with the great body of fire that rages and roars beneath the frail pile of painted wood.

As expected, he wrote in his journal daily while traveling, giving us a picture now, of what he saw on that trip long ago. Most of the time he wrote on his knee in their small cabin at the back of the boat. He felt lucky to have a cabin in the stern, because it was known that ‘steamboats generally blew up forward’.

ohio-river-diorama

This diorama from the National Road/Zane Grey Museum shows a scene at Wheeling that DIckens described of goods being loaded and unloaded.

Coming from the crowded city of London, this wilderness must have appeared strange with trees everywhere and cabins sparsely populating the banks along the river. For miles and miles the banks were unbroken by any sign of human life or trace of human footsteps.

Meal time was not pleasing for him as lively conversation was lacking. Each ‘creature’ would empty his trough as quickly as possible, then slink away. A jest would have been a crime and a smile would have faded into a grinning horror.

I never in my life did see such listless, heavy dullness as brooded over these meals. And was as glad to escape again as if it had been a penance or a punishment.

charles-and-kate

Charles and Kate Dickens came to America in 1842. This is a pencil sketch by a very dear friend, the late Mary Ruth Duff.

After the meals, men would stand around the stove without saying a word, but spitting, which was a bad manner Dickens deplored. Therefore, Charles and Kate spent much of the time sitting on the gallery outside their cabin. His description of the only disturbance outside was in true Dickens style:

Nor is anything seen to move about them but the blue jay, whose colour is so bright, and yet so delicate, that it looks like a flying flower.

mound-by-henry-howe-001

This sketch by Henry Howe in 1843 shows the mound Dickens described in his journal.

He noted that the steamboat whistle was loud enough to awaken the Indians, who lie buried in a great mound, so old that oaks and other forest trees had stuck their roots into its earth. The Ohio River sparkled as it passed the place these extinct tribes lived hundreds of years ago.

Evening steals slowly upon the landscape, when we stop to set some emigrants ashore, five men, as many women, and a little girl. All their worldly goods are a bag, a large chest and an old chair.

Those emigrants were landed at the foot of a large bank, where several log cabins could be seen on the summit, which could be reached by a long winding path. Charles Dickens watched them until they became specks, lingering on the bank with the old woman sitting in the chair and all the rest about her.

dickens-children

They carried this picture of their children – Katey, Walter, Charlie, and Mamie – when they came to America in 1842. As time passed, they had ten children.

When he reached Cincinnati, a booming frontier river town, Dickens viewed it as a beautiful city: cheerful, thriving and animated. He was quite charmed with the appearance of the town and its free schools, as education of children was always a priority for Charles Dickens. Here he could actually find people to engage in conversation.

While his first trip was a disappointment in many ways,in the 1850s, he was encouraged to make another trip to America to extend his popular England reading tour to audiences there. He was told  would be lots of money to be made in the United States.

But the outbreak of the Civil War, caused him to put those plans on hold. When the war was over, he again received encouragement to visit this New World. Despite his ill health and caution from his closest friends, Charles Dickens wrote a seven point “Case in a Nutshell” describing why he should visit America.

Once decided, he arrived in Boston on November 19, 1867. Even though his health was failing, Dickens never canceled a performance.

No man has a right to break an engagement with the public if he were able to be out of bed.

He stayed for five months and gave 76 performances for which he earned an incredible $228,000, helping to give him a much better view of the United States on his second trip. The country had much improved during those twenty-five years in his estimation.

How astounded I have been by the amazing changes I have seen all around me on every side – changes moral, changes physical, changes in the amount of land subdued and peopled.

fly-ferry

The Ohio River is a peaceful place to let your imagination flow.

The next time you visit the banks of the Ohio River, find a secluded spot and imagine what it must have been like when Charles Dickens viewed it in 1842.

Words in italics are Charles Dickens words from his journal “American Notes”, 1842 with the exception of the last one, which was of course written after his second trip.

 

 

 

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