For Section A of this tour, click here.
State Route 7
Making our way down State Route 7 from East Liverpool in the late afternoon, it is easy to understand why TOG refers to Wellsville as a “dingy city” where “boxlike houses stand beside redbrick sidewalks.” Though the new Route 7 necessitated the removal of the “dwellings [which] thrust themselves out from the steep hillsides,” the tops of those hills are still there, throwing the entire town into shadows much earlier than the admittedly similar-looking West Virginia hamlets on the opposite shore. As we passed above the town on the elevated highway, Wellsville seemed anything but. To be fair, if we had been traveling the same route in the morning when it was the Ohio side enjoying the healing sunlight, we may have been more inclined to investigate TOG’s claims of dinginess.
There are a few spots between East Liverpool and Marietta where one can find remains of the old Route 7, but generally the road no longer “dodges along the Ohio River…sweeping around jutting headlands, throughout fertile bottoms, past scores of towns and cities.” Instead, it is often a raised four-lane highway that cuts through the landscape as if it can not be bothered with such needless sight-seeing. If I lived along the Ohio, I would certainly be thankful for the improvements that allows one to get from East Liverpool to Steubenville in twenty-minutes rather than the hour or two it took before the road improvements began in the 1960s . But unlike the writers of TOG who seemed to be constantly aware of “the moods of the river which change with the season and the weather,” we drove above it without giving it much thought.
Just how different the road is can be illustrated by the fate of Memorial Point (whose existence I found evidence of in the manuscript files, rather than TOG). When the road was completed in 1932, a “tall, steel flag pole” was erected on the “highest point on S 7 along the river.” At this point, approximately six miles from East Liverpool, drivers were “afforded an expansive view of the river and the valley.” Today, there is no indication of the flag pole or even the specific hill on which it stood. In fact, as the picture below shows, the upgraded Route 7 roadway cuts through what appears to be the highest point in the area just before it crosses Yellow Creek.
Before the new roadway was put in place, this Yellow Creek crossing was memorialized in postcards for being a picturesque site where interurban, train, and roadway bridges all spanned the river. Run by the Steubenville East Liverpool and Beaver Valley Traction Company, the interurban was part of a massive system of public transit that covered the state. One can imagine how different this stretch of Ohio might look if, rather than investing money in the expanding of Route 7, the transportation authority had put its efforts into revitalizing the interurban rail system. Rather than isolated hamlets whose exits one can easily ignore because of uninviting light, towns like Wellsville, Empire, and Toronto might have enjoyed consistent visitors and commuters, sharing populations and resources, creating a more dynamic regional economy. As it happened, the rail line stayed, the road was upgraded, but all that is left of the interurban that crossed Yellow Creek is some concrete rubble lying between the other two bridges.
In addition to being the location that James and Daniel Heaton first set up their smelting furnace (see section A of this Tour), Yellow Creek, as TOG tells us, was the site of Mingo Chief Logan’s cabin. Logan, identified variously as Tah-gah-jute, Tachnechdorus (also spelled “Tachnedorus” and “Taghneghdoarus”), Soyechtowa, Tocanioadorogon, James Logan, and John Logan, was the son of Shikellamy, an important Iroquios diplomat. When he moved to the Ohio Valley in the 1760s, Logan took up residency with other Iroquois, mostly Senecas and Cayugas, who became known as Mingos to the white settlers in the area.
In 1774, a Virginian named Daniel Greathouse lured about a dozen Mingos across the Ohio River to the cabin of Joshua Baker, a trader in the region. Here Greathouse murdered the Indians, including Logan’s brother, as Greathouse’s men repelled the canoes sent from Yellow Creek to aid the stranded Mingos. In response, a number of war parties, including one led by Logan, attacked settlers along the Virginia frontier prompting the Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, to send an expedition against the Mingos and Shawnees. The Indians eventually agreed to peace after the only major battle of “Dunmore’s War,” but Logan refused to participate. Instead, according to many colonial newspapers and Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, the war chief issued the following statement:
I appeal to any white man to say, if ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked, and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, Logan is the friend of the white men. I have even thought to live with you but for the injuries of one man. Col. Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not sparing even my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This has called on me for revenge. I have sought it: I have killed many: I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbour a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one.
Beyond incorrectly pointing the finger at Col. Cresap, Logan’s speech was most likely not spoken by Logan at all, at least not in this form. Instead, it was probably one of the first examples of a genre that became known as “Aboriginal Eloquence.” Thomas Guthrie argues in a recent volume of Ethnohistory that the celebration of Indian oratory –systematically referred to as ‘eloquence’ by nineteenth-century Americans – was in and of itself a form of subjugation.
The way Euroamericans interpreted and celebrated Indian speech and produced and circulated texts of Indian oratory precisely positioned Indian subjects in this predetermined framework. Indian eloquence, inextricably tied to primitiveness, confirmed that Indians as a race were doomed and dying; the more eloquently they spoke, often uttering their own elegies, the more certain was their passing. In other words, Euroamericans set up an Indian that they could justifiably defeat by putting words in his mouth.
–Good Words: Chief Joseph and the Production of Indian Speech(es), Texts and Subjects,” Ethnohistory 54 no.3 (2007), 536.
Regardless of the speech’s veracity, Logan became an important historical figure in Ohio’s origin story and there is now a monument at the approximate location of his cabin imploring readers to remember his past:
Lest We Forget Chief Logan
A Chief of the Mingoes
A Friend of the Whites
From near this place in 1774, all the family of Logan was lured across the Ohio River and massacred by whites thus sending Logan and Ohio Indian nations on a path of war for vengeance now known to history as Cresap’s War.
“Who Shall Mourn”
There is no date on the monument and its exclusion from TOG indicates that it was unveiled after the guide’s publication, though its creation would not have been a surprise for TOG’s creators. According to James Bishop who wrote one of the manuscript guides for the area, the spot is “second only to Mingo Junction in historic lore.”
I only ran across the monument’s existence because of a great site called the Historical Marker Database. Even with the information on the database, however, it took me fifteen minutes to locate the marker in a rest stop about the size of a baseball infield. Lets see if you can do better in the picture below.
Still can’t find it? How about this one?
Standing at the shelter, looking west toward the monument and the trash can placed equidistantly from the path, there is nothing to indicate that there is anything of note on the front of the squarer of the two cement posts. If the idea was to make the monument blend into the landscape, the caretakers have done an excellent job.
Directly across Route 7 from the rest area is a small field separating the road from the railroad tracks and the Ohio River. This field was the backyard of the McCullough -Jefferson County Children’s Home which cared for over 2,500 kids between 1914 and 1958 when it was torn down to make room for the new road. According to James Bishop’s manuscript guide, the “light colored brick home was made possible because of the philanthropy of William G. McCullough who donated the old homestead farm for the purpose of a home for destitute children and supplemented the gift with $40,000 in 1909.”
The towns of Stratton, Empire, and Port Homer were, at the time TOG was published, known as clay-manufacturing towns, the latter two home to the Empire Sewer Pipe Company and the Peerless Clay Manufacturing company respectively (According the the manuscript tour, Empire was originally named in 1850 when “captain James Young came to the village and brought with him a flock of Shanghai chickens and the town was given that name.” One must assume that the author meant that the town was named in honor of the fowls’ city of origin rather than the birds themselves, but I can’t imagine a better name than “Shanghai Chickens, Ohio”). These towns have essentially merged into one community where the local economy is still based in extractive resources, but those resources consist of coal rather than clay.
The scale of the industrial structures on both sides of the Ohio is impressive. Between the blast furnaces, refineries, and power plants, the magnitude of engineering is awe-inspiring. Sprawling steel and concrete forms cover the landscape as if a massive seven-year-old boy has left his erector-set creations scattered across the valley after being called in to supper by his equally-massive mother. Yet even in this industrial landscape, the size of the W.H. Sammis power plant in Stratton is jaw-dropping. As you approach the structure which straddles Route 7, you can imagine how Jonah might have felt if his whale was made of concrete and it spouted smoke instead of water.
Since coal was discovered in the region in the beginning of the nineteenth-century, it has shaped the economy and the environment of northeast Ohio. This is still the case. FirstEnergy, which owns the W.H. Sammis plant, comprises the nation’s largest investor-owned electric system, serving 6 million customers within a 67,000-square-mile area of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. In 2007, FirstEnergy ranked 212 on the Fortune 500 list of the largest public corporations in America. It also ranked as the 58th largest polluter in the country, according to a study done by the University of Massachusetts.
Ohio Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy which owns the plant, eventually reached a settlement with the EPA and the justice department requiring them to spend $1billion to reduce harmful emissions. Ultimately, the scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction equipment cost $1.8 billion and five years to install but has been successful reducing emissions of sulfur-dioxide by 95 percent, nitrogen oxides by up to 90 percent, and mercury by about 75 percent. The retrofit was named Construction Project of the Year by Platts Global Energy Awards in 2010 and received an honorable mention from Power Engineering magazine. Cardinal Power Plant (owned by AEP, FirstEnergy’s rival) a few miles down the road in Brilliant has also gone through a number of retrofitting projects
A few good 3-irons south of the the Sammis plant is the site of the former Ohio Edison plant it replaced. When it was completed in 1926 at a cost of $8,000,000, the Ohio Edison was one of the largest power plants int the country with an capacity of 350,000 horse power. Today, the Sammis Plant’s capacity of 2,233 megawatts is equal to 2,994,502,326,066 horse power. On google maps, the Ohio Edison plant still stands but when we reached it, only a few outbuildings remained.
Looking south from the Ohio Edison site is a smokestack at a much more human scale than the towering Sammis’ monoliths. Though it was once part of the “largest plant of its kinds on the Ohio river,” the 40-ft smokestack of the now-abandoned Kaul Clay Company virtually invites you to explore what lies at its base. Unlike the anonymous cement tower of the Sammis Plant, the stack of the Kaul Company proudly displays its ownership with the word “KAUL” built directly into its brick. According to the manuscript guide, the stack was part of the 25 kilns that fired 100 tons of raw clay every day, “making pipe that varies in size from three to thirty six inches as well as sewer pipe, flue lining, and conduits.” Three hundred men were employed in the entire operation at its peak.
Today, a sign at the entrance to the site informs us that Jefferson County is applying for a Clean Ohio Assistance Fund Grant to pay for an environmental assessment of the property. The town of Toronto could certainly benefit from developing this site that now offers only bored teenagers and wildlife a place to congregate (A beautiful coyote bounded into the bushes as I made my way up the main path to the stack). Yet, unlike those who have a reason to grow nostalgic over the loss of the actual clay-factory and the economy it supported, I found myself lamenting the possible passing of this liminal site that was neither in-use, nor fully reclaimed. There is something wonderful about walking the grounds of such a site, feeling like the first one to find a pile of clay piping or the filled-in entrance to one of the clay mines behind the kilns, imagining how the whole operation might have come together. Unlike running across the furnace in East Liverpool which, even with its minimal signage, felt as if we had stumbled across a neat historical monument, walking around the Kaul furnace felt more like discovering history.
As someone who feels very strongly about the importance of public history, I am certainly not advocating the removal of historical markers or arguing that there should be less attention paid to maintaining historical sites. There is a certain thrill, however, of creating your own, unencumbered vision of what might have happened in any given spot before you arrived there. Like the junky lot behind Mr. Sneelock’s store in which Dr. Seuss’s Morris McGurk created his imaginary Circus McGurkus, the remnants of the Kaul Clay Company give us just enough reality to let our historical imaginations run wild.
Further downtown was the site of the Toronto Fire Clay Company. Spread over sixty acres, TOG informs us that “grey dusted factory and storage rooms and the behive looking kilns,” produced an array of clay products including Toronto Faced Brick; the much-sought after brick “used around the plaza of the Supreme Court … the American Federation of Labor, both of Washington, D.C.” Just as significantly, according to author and Toronto historian Bob Petras, Toronto Fire Clay was the first company to manufacture sewer pipe in the western hemisphere, after which the region became known as the sewer pipe capital.
However, epitomizing the narrative the manuscript guide gives us in 1939 of a “fading clay industry” giving way to “giant electrical power plants,” many of the independent clay companies were razed to make way for the Ohio Edison and Toronto Power plants. By the middle of the nineteenth-century, only a few of the larger companies remained. The last of these was the Kaul Clay company which closed its doors in 1981, unable to compete with new plastic and fiber pipes.
While the remains of the Kaul Company still exist, the area at the end of Fifth Street that was the site of the Toronto Fire Clay Company has been partially developed into low-income housing and the municipal building, though a large, mostly abandoned structure was probably part of the industrial site.
One site that is still in use is that of the Follansbee Brothers Steel Mill. According to the manuscript guide, Follansbee brothers was “an ideal and complete unit for the production of sheet steel produced by the Drop Forge method,” when it was built in 1918, but is “waiting modernization.” Those changes have certainly taken place as the site now houses Timet, one of two titanium manufacturing companies in the country.
“Steubenville,” according to TOG, “has a historical depth that extends beyond the almost legendary period when Fort Steuben was erected in 1787 to protect the survey of the Seven Ranges….Like Marietta and Chillicothe, it was one of the mother towns of the state.” Yet by 1940, that history had been largely forgotten under the weight of the booming steel industry. “Steubenville speaks the language of the metropolitan Pittsburgh area: the talk of steel mills and the river, of polyglot Irish, Welsh, English German, Slavs and Latins, and the baseball fortunes of the Pittsburg Pirates….Events outside the circle of mills are dwarfed and seem incidental.” In 1940, half of the cities 40,000 residents worked in steel mills, driving a retail business consisting “over five hundred stores…stocked with three million dollars worth of goods from the markets of world, sufficient in volume and variety to meet every consumer demand,” according to the manuscript guide. This trade “employs more than two thousand workers who make shopping attractive and pleasant.”
Covering over a mile of the Ohio riverfront was one of the Wheeling Steel Corporation Plants. Here, nearly 7,000 workers produced coils, bars, and sheet pipe. In addition to the two blast furnaces, 11 open-hearth mills, and hot-strip mill, the company owned its own railroad cars which traveled back and forth over the Ohio River on the company-owned bridge to a byproduct plant on the West Virginia side. Despite its size, however, Wheeling could not avoid the fate of so many other steel mills and, after a series of mergers and take-overs, Wheeling Steel closed the doors to its Steubenville plant in August of 2009.
Perhaps the closing is temporary, as the company (which is now Severstal) contends. Unlike the barbed wire and “no trespassing” signs which clearly indicate the state of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company, the former Wheeling Plant looks as if it might simply be closed for the weekend. As such, I did not hold up much hope that the owner of the security truck parked beside gatehouse would simply wave me through. Much to my surprise, there was no one around. After waiting a few minutes to see if someone was going to come question me, I let myself in. Below is some of what I found.