Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘shanty boat’

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.

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.

Tag Cloud