Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Robert Dafford’

A Stroll Through History Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals

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. 


“The Point Between Two Waters” Tu-Endie-Wei State Park

Bridge over Kanawha River where it joins the Ohio River.

View of bridge over Kanawha River while relaxing on the banks of the Ohio RIver.

Located at the junction of the Ohio River and Kanawha River, Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Mount Pleasant, West Virginia  marks the spot where the Battle of Point Pleasant was fought during the Revolutionary War. Here in 1774 the Virginia militia, led by General Andrew Lewis, fought hand-to-hand with warriors from the Northwestern Confederated Tribes under the leadership of renowned Indian Shawnee chief, Cornstalk.

The Congressional Declaration states:  “This plan, however, as the world now knows, was thwarted as to the place of conflict, when the traitorous Dunmore failed to join Lewis at the mouth of the Kanawha River and they to march together into the enemy’s country.” The original plan called for Governor Dunmore and General Lewis to have the two wings of their Virginia militia meet at the mouth of the Kanawha and pursue the Indians back into their own country, north of the Ohio River. Some feel perhaps Dunmore purposely didn’t arrive in hopes that the Shawnee would defeat the militia, since Dunmore soon became a prominent leader of the British War effort during the Revolutionary War.

This 84' granite oblisk commemorates the Birginia militiamen who gave their lives during the battle.

This 84′ granite obelisk commemorates the Virginia militiamen who gave their lives during the battle.

An 84-foot tall granite obelisk stands in the center of the park in remembrance of the Virginia militiamen, who lost their lives during the battle. At the base of this statue is a figure of a frontiersman. The importance of this battle stretches far beyond that one day encounter as it put to rest Indian wars on the frontier and prevented an Indian alliance with the British.

Throughout the park, several smaller memorials have been placed dedicated to some of the main heroes in this battle that many claim was the first battle of the Revolutionary War.

Chief Cornstalk Monument

Chief Cornstalk Monument

Keigh-tugh-qua, better known as Chief Cornstalk, was a well respected leader in the Ohio Valley. Both Indians and white men knew Chief Cornstalk as a man who wanted peace with the white men.  But he felt forced to defend his people on this spot at Point Pleasant, against who he called “Long Knives”, the colonists of Virginia. At that point he wanted to turn the frontier red with the Long Knives’ blood.  Although the Indians were defeated, Chief Cornstalk did survive this battle.

In 1777, Cornstalk returned to Point Pleasant to warn the settlers that the British were trying to incite his tribesmen to attack.  Fearing an unpleasant encounter, Cornstalk and companions were imprisoned at Fort Randolph, where he was killed by a dozen rifle shots while standing at the doorway of his room. After moving his burial place several times, his remains were brought back here for their final resting place near the field of his most famous battle.

Statue of Mad Anne Bailey along the Ohio River

Statue of Mad Anne Bailey along the Ohio River

One interesting monument marks the burial spot of Mad Anne Bailey, whose husband, Richard Trotter, was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant. This statue along the Ohio River shows frontier scout Mad Anne dressed in buckskins as she delivered messages to remote places throughout the Virginia area to avenge her husband’s death. “Mad” escapades in fighting the red savages on the frontier earned her the nickname of “Mad Anne”. Later she married John Bailey, who was stationed at Fort Lee (Charleston). Mad Anne has been given credit for saving Fort Lee from destruction as she rode alone at nearly fifty years of age for gunpower to Fort Savannah (Lewisburg), which was a two hundred mile trip. Her reward ? The black horse she rode. At the age of seventy, Mad Anne lived in a cave until her son William, who she left with friends at the age of seven, found her and took her to Gallipolis to live in a tiny cabin near his family.

Mural on floodwall along the Ohio River

Mural on floodwall along the Ohio River

Murals depicting the meeting of the tribes and various battlefield scenes line the floodwalls of the Riverwalk along the Ohio River. Painted by artist, Robert Dafford, these scenes bring to life the memory of that one-day battle so long ago that changed the course of history. The inscription above one of those murals explains: Each was fighting for his own way of life.

Today, like in times throughout history, we each continue to fight for what we believe. May your battles be a little less severe.

Tu-Endie-Wei State Park is located at Point Pleasant, West Virginia  at the end of Main Street where the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers meet. Take a stroll down the Riverwalk to enjoy the beautiful Ohio River, the floodwall murals, and many statues along the way. Frequent festivals throughout the year are held here and it is often a stopping point for riverboats. 

A “Pleasant Point” Along the Ohio River

“A pleasant point” was the description given by surveyor, George Washington, when he arrived at the confluence of the Great Kanawha  and Ohio Rivers. Today the town that grew there is called Point Pleasant in West Virginia. The beautiful Riverfront Park is a pleasant surprise here and a wonderful place to take a leisurely stroll with the Ohio River on one side and large murals depicting the town’s history on the other.You can glimpse the Silver Memorial Bridge close to  the point where the Great Kanawha River joins the Ohio River near the end of the Riverwalk in the State Park, Tu-Endie-Wei, which adjoins.

The Ohio River peacefully flows carrying boats of various sizes for many purposes.  There are coal barges, speedboats, riverboats, and luckily this day the spectacular American Queen, the largest steamboat even built in the world. Built in 1995,  this beautiful riverboat is a  six-deck re-creation of a classic Mississippi Steamboat.  Its flat-bottomed style makes it possible to even continue if the waters become shallow.

Murals are painted on the floodwalls flanking the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers representing scenes from the Battle of Point Pleasant as well as other pieces of Point Pleasant history, including the Indian settlements of earlier days. Each large mural, measuring from 100-250 feet long, has one single monumental scene painted by artist Robert Dafford. His murals can be found in several cities along the Ohio River from here at Point Pleasant, West Virginia to Paducah, Kentucky.

One depicts the 19-year old George Washington surveying the wilderness where he met Benjamin Franklin and some land speculators, who were founders of the Great Ohio Company. This group intended to found a new colony called Vandalia that would have encompassed most of today’s West Virginia and Kentucky.  What a surprise to learn that on the eve of the American Revolution, there were thoughts of creating a fourteenth colony with Point Pleasant as its capital.

On the other side of the murals is the historic Lowe Hotel, the largest landmark in Point Pleasant. Built in 1901 of Cleveland Berea stone and red brick, this monument was originally called the Spencer Hotel in honor of J.S. Spencer, friend and financial backer of the Smith brothers who owned the hotel.  At that time, traffic on the Ohio River was heavy, so a place to spend the night became an important attraction at Point Pleasant.  Today that  hotel is said to be haunted by guests who decided not to check out, one of those being Captain Jim who is waiting for his steamboat.

Two unusual metal statues of Chief Cornstalk and Colonel Andrew Lewis caught my eye along the Riverwalk. These were the two combatants in what many say was the first battle of the Revolutionary War…the Battle of Point Pleasant. The Virginia Militia led by Andrew Lewis defeated Chief Cornstalk, the Shawnee leader, and his braves, thus preventing the Native Americans from forming an alliance with the British. This in turn had a major influence on the outcome of the War of Independence. Their statues are located in front of a mural depicting the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774.

By late afternoon, the American Queen paddlewheels begin turning and the riverboat slowly, almost magically, floats away from the shore. Calliope music fills the air and seems to take one back in time to a happier, more peaceful way of life. This is a great spot to sit down in a swing and watch the river and your cares drift away.

The Riverwalk at Point Pleasant, West Virginia is located just a half block from Main Street and of course, along the Ohio River. Frequent festivals throughout the year are held here and it is often a stopping point for riverboats. 

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