Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Sacra Via’

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


The Marietta Mound Cemetery Burial Ground for Heroes of War and Peace

Marietta Mound Cemetery in Marietta, Ohio

Marietta Mound Cemetery in Marietta, Ohio

Since the prehistoric Moundbuilders came to the Ohio Valley and Marietta, sometime between 800 BC and 700 AD, those early ancients remain quite mysterious. It is thought the Adena culture built The Great Mound, where Marietta Mound Cemetery is today located. The Hopewell, descendents of the Adena culture, are responsible for a portion of the mounds in the Marietta complex.

Sacra Via, The Sacred Way

Sacra Via – The Sacred Way

From the Muskingum River to what is now 2nd Street, a roadway called Sacra Via, meaning Sacred Way, was constructed of white crushed mussel shells, which made a solid pavement. The reflective light from the moon on the mussel shells almost made it seem like a lighted path when the ships would dock on the Ohio and Muskingum RIvers. Today that Sacred Way is maintained as a public park where the Ohio Land Company members are honored.

Large Pyramid Mound in Marietta Mound Complex

Large Pyramid Mound in Marietta Mound Complex

Sacra Via continued to what is now called the Marietta Earthworks. This archeological complex included a large square enclosure surrounding four flat-topped pyramidal mounds, another smaller square and the conical shaped mound in the cemetery. Brick walls enclosed the Sacred Way from the Muskingum River to the Quadranaou, the largest flat topped earthen pyramid. The walls of the enclosure were aligned with the winter solstice since astrology played a major role in celebrations and rituals of those early cultures. The bricks were removed in 1843 to use as home foundations.

Great Mound, Conus

Great Mound – Conus

The roadway ended at the largest mound, called Great Mound or Conus, where city developers created a cemetery, Marietta Mound Cemetery, in 1801.  More Revolutionary War officers are buried in this county than at any other place in the United States. General Rufus Putnam and General Benjamin Tupper, both founders of the Ohio Land Company, are buried here. Serving originally as the burial place for chieftains, 30′ tall Conus is the Adena culture’s largest conical, ringed mound still visible today.

Rock covering capsule at top of the Great Mound

Rock covering capsule at top of the Great Mound

To keep the mound from being destroyed, original pioneers in Marietta had the cemetery fenced in back in 1837. When a slight excavation of the site occurred, bones of an adult Adena Indian and some of his possessions were discovered buried in a horizontal position and covered with a large stone. Once it was discovered this was a burial site, further excavation was halted. The mound was sowed with grass, and stone steps were built to the top. Those same steps can be climbed today with the addition of a handrail for easier climbing.

Ditch and embankment surrounding The Great Mound

Ditch and embankment surrounding Conus

After climbing 45 steps, the top of the tree covered mound has benches for resting and viewing the city of Marietta,   A cool breeze was welcome after the strenuous climb but it lasted only a minute.  From the top you can see the 15′ wide ditch and  4′ deep embankment that surround Conus.  An interesting stone at the top of Conus states: Beneath this stone is a time capsule placed here in commemoration of the bicentennial celebration of the United States of America. Junior Bicentennial Commission, July 3, 1976 to be opened July 4, 2076.

Here in this cemetery, seen from high on the mound, are buried a Moundbuilder chief, veterans of the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican, Civil and Spanish American Wars plus many heroes of peace. The spirits of those who helped build this nation live on.

Marietta Mound Cemetery is located in Marietta, Ohio off I-77. Take Exit 1 along the beautiful Ohio River following Route 7 West. The cemetery is located at the intersection of 5th Street and Scammel Street. From Route 7, turn right on Greene Street / 7th Street, then right onto 4th Street and another right onto Scammel Street. The Cemetery will be directly in front of you. You can’t miss it!

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