Tour 8, section B – East Liverpool to Marietta (part 3)

Tour 8, section B begins here.

Steubenville’s Favorite Sons

At the time of TOG’s publication, there was no doubt that Edwin M. Stanton was the most revered figure in the city’s history. Two of the twelve points-of-interest in the printed guide relate directly to Stanton while the manuscript guide begins its tour of the region with the Edwin McMasters Stanton Home, the fourth such residence he occupied in the city.

Stanton was born in Steubenville in 1814. It was here he began a law career that would eventually lead him to Washington D.C. and an appointment as the Attorney General in President Buchanan’s Cabinet. In 1862, according to the manuscript guide,  “President Lincoln made a master stroke in placing this influential Democrat in his cabinet as Secretary of War, thus helping to unify the Democrats in the north at the time of the Civil War.” After the war ended, Ulysses S. Grant appointed him to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, like much of Grant’s presidency, things didn’t quite work out as planned as Stanton died four days after his appointment.

TOG cites a “bronze tablet on the doorway erected by the school children of the county,” as the source of its information regarding the birthplace of Stanton. 524 Market Street housed a jewelry store at the time of TOG’s publication, though this may have been irrelevant as “some say that he was born in the two-story brick structure [behind the store] now used as a warehouse and storage loft.” That jewelry store was one of the buildings across the street from the Imperial Hotel from the previous part of this section of the tour.  While it is impossible to make out the bronze tablet, thanks to the resolution of the picture in the Ohio Guide Photograph Collection, you can see a sign which appears to read “Dr. Stanton” in the window of a building that would have sat at approximately 524 Market Street. This may be coincidence or perhaps one of Stanton’s relatives maintained an office in the building in which his (or possibly her) namesake was born.  Either way it is a neat bit of continuity. The bronze tablet, meanwhile, can be found on a marble slab in a small landscaped area in front of an office building which can be seen in my rephotograph of the corner of Sixth and Market Streets.

Edwin Stanton birthplace with box indicating sign, @1940 / copyright OHS

"Dr. Stanton" sign, @1940 / copyright OHS

Birthplace of Edwin Stanton, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Edwin Stanton Plaque, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Edwin Stanton Plaque, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

According to the manuscript guide, two years after Stanton’s birth in or behind the Market Street home, the family moved to a house “on the west side of North Third Street.” Soon after, his father died leaving the family in “straightened circumstances.”  While this is not a phrase I am familiar with, apparently these are not the sorts of circumstances one wishes to be left in because “these trials Stanton overcame.”  The surviving Stanton family moved  once more before they settled into what the manuscript guide calls the Edwin McMasters Stanton Home. This red brick house on North Third and Dock Streets “was the finest residence in Steubenville,” when they moved into it 1844.  Here Stanton kept cattle and “developed a fine garden…of fruit and vegetables….called ‘the Patch’ by the family.” “The Patch” has unfortunately given way to “the Parking Lot,” as the expansion of Route 7 required the elimination of most of N. Third Street, including Stanton’s home, and the area behind the house was given up for less pastoral purposes (though the building seen here is itself two hundred years old and is lovingly maintained by a resident who uses the old carriage house as a workshop for restoring his antique cars).

Site of "The Patch" behind Stanton residence, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

The most conspicuous memorial to Stanton and the second such point-of-interest in TOG is the Edwin M. Stanton Monument that sits in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse on Market Street.  Unveiled in 1906 it is a “bronze likeness of Stanton making a speech at the courthouse.” Yes. So it is.

Edwin M. Stanton Monument, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

While the statue is unexceptional, its inclusion in TOG gives me the opportunity to share a wonderful photograph from the Guide Collection of Civil War veterans posing in front of it, albeit in a different location than it stands now (the photo also happens to be a favorite of Carla Zikursh, part of the OHS staff that has done so much work putting the Guide Collection together). A note on the back of the photograph reads: “The Last Roll Call. Civil War vets in front of Stanton’s statue. Sort of striking future all these are dead now. Can get their names if needed. -Jene E. Bishop.” It is worth zooming in on the full-size image to see the details of the mens’ accoutrements, including an electric hearing device worn by the man second from the right.

Stanton Statue with Civil War Vets, undated / copyright OHS

Stanton no longer claims the title of Steubenville’s most popular son. While my vote would go to Rollie Fingers, the mustachioed Hall of Fame relief pitcher who solidified the importance of a late inning “closer,” that honor now goes to the late entertainer Dean Martin. As a 2002 historical marker informs visitors traveling along Dean Martin Boulevard (Route 7 within the city limits), before teaming up with Jerry Lewis in the 1940s, Dino Crocetti worked in the steel mills of Steubenville and boxed under the name “Kid Crochet.”

For those interested in paying homage to Martin’s legacy, the Jefferson County Historical Museum and Library is in the midst of opening up a Dean Martin Room that will house memorabilia and documents pertaining to the performer. When Leonardo and I visited in April, Judy Brancazio and Mike Giles were overseeing the finishing touches of the room’s refurbishing. The  JCHA is housed in the Sharpe Mansion, a beautiful structure on Franklin Ave. and contains nineteen rooms exhibiting furniture and eclectic artifacts from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My favorite piece is this portrait of our 28th President. Piecing together pictures to form a new image is nothing new in this age of photoshop so it took me a second to realize the significance of what I was looking at as I stared at Wilson’s face. These are not individual pictures but individual people! This is a living collage of military personnel, choreographed to take the form of Woodrow Wilson. Titled “21,000 Officers and Man,” the scene was constructed at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio in 1918. For more information on the historical museum and library, call 740.283.1133.

Woodrow Wilson Portrait from JCHM, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Close-up of Woodrow Wilson Portrait

Fort Steuben and U.S. Land Office

In Section A of this tour, I wrote about the Point of Beginning and Thomas Hutchins’ survey of the Seven Ranges.  To protect Hutchins from Indian raids, members of the First American Regiment constructed Fort Steuben in 1786, named after Prussian officer Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus Heinrich Ferdinand (Baron von Steuben) who fought for the newly independent Americans during their war with England.  Hutchins needed protection from Indians because during both the Seven-Years War (known by many school children as the French and Indian War) and the American Revolution, Ohio Indians found themselves on the losing side and were forced into signing a series of one-sided treaties. Though the treaties of Fort Stanwix, McIntosh, and Finney expressly forbade U.S. citizens from trespassing on what was left of Shawnee, Miami, Delaware, Ojibwe and Ottawa lands, such laws were rarely enforced, leaving many young Indian men little choice but to demonstrate their displeasure on the closest collection of American representatives.

This history and some really insightful thoughts on early setters’ relationships with Native Americans can be found in John R. Holmes’ The Story of Historic Fort Steuben, which was graciously given to me by Judy Bratton, the Executive Director of Historic Fort Steuben.  Perhaps even more interesting than the construction of original fort, however, is Holmes’ telling of how the fort was built a second time over the period of twenty-years, from 1990 to 2010, after nearly two centuries of existing only the memory of the city’s residents. The  reconstructed fort and new Fort Steuben Eastern Gateway Visitor’s Center was recently recognized for excellence in community involvement and innovation by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials: one of only eight such awards given nationally.  It is must-see for those interested in early Ohio history.

At the time TOG was published, the tangible evidence of Fort Steuben was limited to four stone pillars with metal plates, indicating the four corners of the historic stockade.  Two of these pillars have been moved within the walls of the new fort to protect them from vandals, while the other two have not been so fortunate.

Illustration of Fort Steuben created for Ohio Guide / copyright OHS

Fort Steuben, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Fort Steuben Marker, NW corner, @1940/ copyright OHS

Fort Steuben Marker NW corner, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Fort Steuben Marker, NE corner, 2012 (missing metal plate) / copyright David Bernstein

In addition to giving me the book, Judy also gave Leonardo and I a personal tour of both the fort and the first U.S. Land Office of the Northwest Territory which now sits adjacent to it. Its history is even more convoluted than that of Fort Steuben, as described in the following two paragraphs taken from Holmes’ history:

On May 12, 1800, President John Adams appointed David Hoge the first registrar of the federal Land Office, the government body designated to record land deeds for the western expansion of the United States. …In 1801, Hoge built a one-room log cabin to serve as both his home and the recording office. He built it on Third Street, lot 104, about where the Steubenville Post Office is now. In 1809, Hoge moved the land office to lot 113, still on Third Street but now north of Washington, where it remained for twelve years. The cabin was small enough that Hoge probably found it easier simply to dismantle and reassemble the timbers rather than rebuild. In 1821, the building was moved to the northeast corner of Market and Alley A (now Court Street). In 1828, Hoge dismantled it again and moved it to South Third Street between Market and Adams. This was the final move for more than a century, since the little timber structure was bricked up and covered with a larger brick building. Not until the outer building was torn down in 1941 did people discover that the original beams of the 1801 house were preserved inside the brick walls of the building now scheduled for demolition (There is no indication of the building in the 1940-printed TOG, only a now-missing “marble stone a foot square, 10 feet above the pavement,” at 118 N. Third marking its former location. Generally very well edited, this levitating monument made it through the proof-reading process).

A few civic-minded people, realizing what they had discovered, tried to save the building. Eventually, they found space for it outside of town, in what is now Steubenville’s “West End,”…There it was used as a plane-spotting station during World War II. It remained a tourists attraction until 1963, when the cabin had to be moved again to accommodate the widening of Route 22. This time the history-minded leaders of Steubenville wanted to bring this piece of its past closer to its original home. The nearest strip of land vacant and controlled by the city was right on Route 7 near the Fort Steuben Bridge. Then, in 1976, it was Route 7’s turn to be widened , displacing the little cabin again. It moved farther south, still on Route 7, until that space was needed for the University Boulevard interchange for the new Veteran’s Memorial Bridge in 1983. Finally, Ohio Power found a home for it in the corner of its lot, exactly as it would do a few years later for Fort Steuben.

First U.S. Land Office in Northwest Territory, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Mingo Junction

Even in 1940, Mingo Junction seemed more like an “extension of Steubenville than a city in its own right.”  Like the Wheeling Steel Corporation to the north, the blast furnaces of  Carnegie-Illinois Steel Mill emitted “fierce, flaming fire”  which “lit up the night sky and their reflection on the river turns its murky color into hues of red and amber.” Yet unlike the Steubenville plant, the Carnegie-Illinois plant (now Wheeling-Pittsubrgh) continues to send “lurid rays into the night sky,” though not nearly as frequently as it once did. When Leonardo and I passed through town, it was the fading sunlight rather than the fire from the blast furnace which illuminated the “maze of mill structures.

Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Mingo Junction #3, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Mingo Junction #11, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Mingo Junction #2, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Though its mill still produces some steel, Mingo Junction has not fared particularly well since the bottom fell out of the industry in the 1970s. Much of the downtown, while designated as a historic district, is abandoned and badly in need of repair. TOG points to Potter’s Spring, a natural spring George Washington and his party drank from while exploring the valley in 1770, as a site worth seeing on the south end of the now-historic neighborhood.  Its current condition is a graphic illustration of just how much work needs to be done to restore the town to its quaint origins.

Potter's Spring, @1940 / copyright OHS

Potter's Spring, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Potter's Spring, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Mingo Junction was in a similar position at the time TOG was published. The Great Depression had reduced the economy to a fraction of what it was in the first quarter of the century, leaving the residence without any way to earn a living. The New Deal thus saved scores of towns like Mingo Junction whose citizens could work on local projects, rather than search the country for employment opportunities.  Mill Creek Park, Beatty Park, and Steubenville High School were just a few of the places we have already visited on Tour 8 that were either built or drastically improved through New Deal programs.

Mingo Stadium was just such a project. Initiated by the Public Works Administration and still in planning stages when the manuscript guide was written, the “brick and cement stadium” was part of a large athletic complex which included “lockers and showers, baseball diamond, football field, track and tennis courts to be used by the High School and for general community sports, festivals and recreational activities.”  I have not been able to determine when the stadium was torn down but today all that is left of the complex are the entrance arches and the remnants of an oval track in what is now an empty lot adjacent to Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel. For other images of the stadium and some great trivia about Mingo Junction–What was Doc Cava’s first name and what kind of ties did he wear?–visit this intriguing site. I don’t know if the site is still updated as its homepage still announces it 10 year anniversary (1995-2005), but its creator obviously cares a great deal about the town.

Mingo Stadium Arches, 2012, copyright David Bernstein

Remnants of Track at Mingo Stadium, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Just to the south of the stadium arches lies a huge expanse of railroad tracks. Running from Mingo Junction into the hamlet of George’s Run, this two-mile long rail-yard is full of cars in various states of disrepair. When the manuscript guide was written, the yard was owned by Central and Pacific Railroad and contained a round-house on the east side of the yard.  Like the track of Mingo Stadium, the arch of the roundhouse foundation was relatively easy to locate against the disorder of regrowth.  As I walked around the cement ring, I found railroad ties cut horizontally into three inch cross-sections and placed in the ground with the cut ends facing up and down. I assume they were placed this way so they would be harder to compress and this strategy seems to have worked as many of the wooden bricks remained in tact.

Foundation of Round House, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Round House "Bricks", 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

 Ephraim Kimberly Land Grant and Stringer Mansion

With the exception of Yorkville whose “rows of company houses line the streets,” the twenty-or-so miles between Mingo Junction and Martin’s Ferry did not merit any  acknowledgement in TOG. The manuscript guide, on the other hand, gives us an intriguing bit of history regarding a small stone with the inscription “E.K.” near the junction of Routes 7 and 150 in Rayland. This pillar, measuring fifteen inches square and about two feet tall, marked the southwest corner of a 400 acre land grant to captain Ephraim Kimberly for his services during Revolutionary War.  The grant, signed by George Washington, is the first recorded instrument in the Deeds of Jefferson County.

While I was not able to find the pillar, I did find remnants of the Stringer Mansion which was built on the former land grant in 1836 by wealthy abolitionist John Brown Bayless. Jefferson Stringer, who had originally sold the land to Bayless, bought the land and mansion back in 1860 and lived there till his death. When the author of the manuscript guide passed through 1940, Stringer’s grandchildren still lived in the stone structure. Though the Stringer Mansion stood for many years , it burned down before it could fulfill the guide’s prophesy of standing for “100 more years.” Amanda Lynn and Kevin, two twenty-somethings I chatted with outside of the Dairy Queen adjacent to where I thought the mansion should be, say their siblings went on tours of the mansion as kids and confirmed my suspicion that the rocks lining the restaurant’s landscaping were once part of the mansion. While not the pastoral scene it was in 1940, there was still aspects of the “lingering loveliness” the guide described.

Stringer Stone House, @1940 / copyright OHS

Former Location of Stringer Stone House, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

"Lingering Loveliness", 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Stones from Stringer Mansion, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

DQ next to former site of Stringer Mansion, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

"The Place To Which We Have Come", 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Tiltonsville Indian Mound 

Many of the Euro-Americans who moved into the northern stretches of the Ohio Valley were intrigued by the remnants of the Hopewell and Adena peoples who lived there until @AD 500.  While some of that interest resulted in the looting and destruction of burial mounds, it helped save others.  In fact, according to John Holmes history of Fort Steuben, Colonel Harmar even instructed his officers to take careful notes and sketches of any antiquities they ran across. TOG is generally pretty good at including Hopewell and Adena sites (the most famous of which are Hopewell Cultural National Historic Site, Fort Ancient, and the Newark Earthworks) but the Tiltonsville Mound is not mentioned, not making the cut from the manuscript.  It is a noteworthy cross-cultural creation, however, as Euro-American settlers incorporated their own burial practices into this ancient graveyard.

Tiltonsville Indian Mound, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

"The Sacred and the Propane", 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Martin’s Ferry

While its population of just over 7,000 is half of what it was at the time of TOGs publication, the description of this “steel and coal city…pushed against the river by the hills” is still as applicable in 2012 as it was in 1940: “Short cross streets connect its thoroughfares at different levels with squat brick-and-frame houses standing along them in drab series.” Named Martinsville by Ebenezer Martin in 1835, the town soon became known for its mode of transportation which ferried hogs, sheep and cattle across the Ohio on their way to Eastern markets.

TOG describes two points-of-interest in Martin’s Ferry, both of which pertain to the Zane family. Ebenezer Zane was, according to the inscription on his gravestone and the first point-of-interest, “the first permanent inhabitant of this part of the Western World, having first begun to reside here in 1769.” The tens of thousands of Indigenous peoples who had lived in the region notwithstanding, Zane gained historical prominence as the first settler of this part of the Northwest Territory and the surveyor of a former Indian trail that became known as Zane’s trace; an important transportation route that became part of the National Road in 1825.

His gravestone stands next to his wife’s, Elizabeth (Betty) Zane who is the focus of the second point-of-interest.  In 1928, the “children of Martin’s Ferry” erected a statue at the entrance to Walnut Grove Cemetery “in memory of Elizabeth Zane whose heroic deed saved Fort Henry in 1782.”  According to TOG, during a British and Indian siege of the fort, “at considerable risk, Betty Zane succeeded in carrying a supply of powder from a near-by house to the fort, thereby aiding in the repulse of the attackers.” I am not sure if this reveals more about gender roles in 1782 or 1928, but the sculpture’s size does prove that the children of Martin’s Ferry were very, very strong. Along with Union Cemetery in Steubenville, Walnut Grove Cemetery was one of the more picturesque stops on tour 8.

Martin's Ferry Yacht Club, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Betty Zane Monument, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Walnut Grove Cemetery, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Ohio River from Walnut Grove Cemetery, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Bellaire

Between Walnut Grove Cemetery and the State Forest Nursery three miles north of Marietta, TOG lists only one point-of-interest: the House-that-Jack-Built in Bellaire.  This three story brick house of “fading Victorian splendor” earned its title from a mule named Jack who carried the coal for its owner from valuable deposits nearby. To honor the beast of burden, the owner placed a small sculptured head of the mule above the front door.  Unfortunately, the only hint I could find of the house was a 1982 historical novel in the window of the Imperial Glass Museum titled Eliza and the House that Jack Built (Imperial was one of the nation’s largest handmade glass manufacturing companies in the 20th century but for some reason was not included in TOG). The museum was closed so I was not able to thumb through the book, but the story of its author Albert Wass, is intriguing in its own right.

Perhaps because it was not a New Deal project, Bellaire’s most obvious historical point-of-interest, the Great Stone Viaduct, was left out of the publication.  A  2008 plaque from the village of Bellaire and the Ohio Historical Society informs the reader that this railroad bridge consists of “43 stone arches supported by 47 ring stones (18 on each side of a keystone) intended to symbolize a united Union consisting of 37 states,” the number of such entities in 1871 when the viaduct was completed. This crossing was known, according to the plaque, as the “Great Shoreline to the West.”

"Pulito Block" through Great Stone Viaduct, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Union Street Station and Great Stone Viaduct, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

While the eighty-or-so miles between Martin’s Ferry and Marietta may have lacked points of interest, TOG offers some colorful descriptions. Near Dilles Bottom, for example,  a “grotesquerie of coal cars, tracks, and tipples,” might be found radiating from a coal pit where “sober-faced men in dark clothes” tend to the “great smoldering mounds of slack.” The sulpherous odor, “often almost unbearable, permeates the atmosphere.” Such a smell could also be found a few miles later in Powhatan Point where “the highway passes neat frame houses and noxious mounds of slack.” For the author of this section of TOG, such was all he or she needed to see to understand the town:

Miners off duty, some of them helmeted and all of them in their work clothes, stand about the company store in small clusters, talking quietly or saying nothing at all. They talk without laughter and without discontent, their incurious lives bounded by their boxlike houses, the store, and the mines. A few have bandaged hands or missing limbs.

The perceived monotony of life in these small coal towns on the Ohio seems to have defeated the author of this section of the tour. After passing through Clarington (pop. 506) where “formerly clock-making was carried on,”(s)he writes “for the next 50 miles…small villages, inert or dying, appear: Hannibal (pop. 516); Duffy (pop. 75); Sardis (pop. 385); Fly (pop. 106), so named because the early settlers wanted their village to have a simple name.” Today, the numbers in these hamlets are even smaller than they were in 1940 and not going to increase any time soon. From Sardis down to Marietta, back from the river about fifteen miles, the area has been designated as part of Wayne National Forest.

Marietta  

“No colony in America was ever settled under such favorable auspices,” George Washington once said of Marietta. Of course, having an economic stake in the Ohio Company of Associates which had just purchased the Northwest Territory from Congress, it is not that surprising that Washington would sing the praises of the newly created town at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingham Rivers. Initially named Muskingham but then changed in honor of “Queen Marie Antoinette of France, whose nation had materially assisted the cause of the American Revolution” Marietta’s pioneers first landed across the Muskingham from three-year-old Fort Harmar in 1788. Here Rufus Putnam erected Campus Martius, “the strongest fortification in the territory of the United States,” according to a contemporary writer, where Governor Arthur St. Clair, Return Jonathan Meigs, Putnam, and approximately 300 settlers lived for the last decade of the eighteenth-century (According to TOG, Return got his name after his father proposed to the woman he loved. Seeing the heartbroken lad after initially refusing his request, “the  young lady, suddenly remorseful, said pleadingly, ‘Return, Jonathan'”).

As the town grew into a primary stopping point for Ohio River traffic and a ship-building center in its own right, the fort was dismantled for its lumber and eventually all that was left of the original stockade was Rufus Putnams’ two-story house overlooking the Muskingham. In 1931, the Campus Martius Memorial State Museum was built around Putnam’s house. Soon after, the Northwest Territory Land Office, thought to be the oldest Euro-American-made building in the Northwest Territory, was moved to the museum site. Today, the museum houses three floors of exhibits on the establishment of the Northwest Territory. Along with a stone marking the Landing Place of the First Families at the foot of Washington Street, these three sites make up the first three points-of-interest in TOG.

Front Street in Marietta, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Foot Bridge connecting Fort Harmar and Marietta, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

There is no doubt that Marietta is a quaint town. The description of a downtown where the modern “mingles with old and colorful…flavored with historic traditions,” is still as appropriate today as it was in 1940. Nearby, residences of “attractive old Colonial, Tudor, and Gothic houses have arisen unmistakably from the culture of New England.” Yet, particularly after driving through towns like  East Liverpool and Steubenville, there is a sense that this history has been meticulously cultivated. In fact, even in 1940 “Mariettians [were] conscious and proud of their traditions. Endeavors [were] constantly being made to maintain a cultural standard in keeping with those pioneers who gave prehistoric earthwork names such as Capitolium and Quadranaou, and who designated these and other areas as parks so that they could be preserved” (Those other sites are Mound Cemetery, which TOG states also contains more officers of the American Revolution than any other cemetery in the country, and Sacra Via Park).

Mound Cemetery, @1940 / copyright OHS

Mound Cemetery, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Preserving Adena and Hopewell sites is nothing Marietta should be ashamed of. Neither is their lovely downtown where virtually every building, historic or not, has a plaque stating its date of creation and original owner. Still, it is difficult to imagine “modern pioneers” of Steuvbenville re-enacting the journey of their city’s founders aboard duplicate vessels, as Mariettians did in 1938 to celebrate the town’s sesquicentennial. Or marking 150 years of civil government a few months later with a visit by President Roosevelt. Such showmanship was all but mocked in one of the manuscript versions of the Steubenville guide which stated that “unlike some towns which will go unnamed, Steubenville makes history rather than recreates it.” Whether the author was simply trying to prop up the morale of a city still in the throes of the Great Depression, or was passing on the sour-grapes sentiment of some of Steubenville’s residents, there is no doubt that there has been a deliberate effort by many of its citizens to establish Marietta as the most historically significant city in Ohio.

Evidence of this narrative-shaping can actually be found in the historical monuments themselves. At the corner of Front and Greene Streets stands Bicentennial Plaza, dedicated in 1987 to commemorate Marietta’s 200th birthday. Plaques and monuments explaining everything from shipbuilding to Indian wars dot this small look-out point at the junction of the Ohio and Muskingham Rivers.  Two of the nine monuments also help explain why the monuments are there at all.

In 1824, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de la Fayette, better known to the Americans he assisted during the Revolutionary War simply as Lafayette, returned to the United States where he “embarked on a unprecedented and triumphal TOUR,” according to one of the plaques in the plaza. In May of 1825, Lafayette “stopped overnight at the residence of Nahum Ward,” of Marietta before proceeding on to Pittsburgh.  A plaque in Bicentennial Plaza cleverly leads the casual reader to believe that this uneventful stop marked “The Beginning of Tourism in the United States.” Nevermind that this stop was halfway into Lafayette’s  trip, or that such tours were not that uncommon for European nobles in the  first quarter of the nineteenth century, this plaque demonstrates a narrative tactic that I noticed in many of the town’s historical monuments: appropriating stories of a regional or national character and making them specific to Marietta’s history.

Bicentennial Plaza, Marietta, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

Monument to honor southern boundary of stockade, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

"Beginning of Tourism" , 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

For example, during the same trip in which he marked 150 years of civil government in the Marietta, President Roosevelt also dedicated “A Memorial to the Start Westward of the United States” which contains both a statue and a set of steps leading down to the Muskingham. Similarly, a set of pillars leading into Muskingham Park highlights the Northwest Ordinance. As one of the first Euro-American communities established in the Northwest Territories, Marietta certainly has a legitimate claim to being an important addition to the growing American state. How it has been able to establish itself as either the starting point of Euro-American westward expansion or “The Place Where Ohio History Lives,” as its official guidebook declares, is another story.

Plan of Proposed Monument to Start of Westward Expansion, 1938 / copyright OHS

Start Westward Monument, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

The very bottom of the Lafayette plaque bears the inscription, “This plaque erected 1959 by S. Durward Hoag, Innkeeper.” I did not think much about it until I looked at another small plaque partially hidden by a bush nearby. This one is a memorial to the very same S. Durward Hoag (1900-1982), erected by the Rotary Club of Marietta and reads “transportation and tourism visionary and owner of the Lafayette Hotel, ‘put Marietta on the map,’ by convincing the federal government to locate I-77 near historic Marietta.” This not only explains Hoag’s impetus for erecting the sign across from the street from his Lafayette Hotel which, though built nearly 100 years after Lafayette’s visit, he named in the Marquis’ honor, but also partially explains Marietta’s ability to focus its economy on historical tourism: it is easy to get to.

As I mentioned above, even in 1940, “Marietta ha[d] a dignity in keeping with her historic past.” Whether this was due to an economy that was able to escape the boom and bust cycle of other more industrial towns on the Ohio, or because it didn’t have the overwhelming identification with steel, or coal, or clay like Stuebenville or Mingo Junction or Toronto, Marietta made a concerted effort to highlight its past. Add to that the ability to attract travelers from Interstate 77, and you have the recipe for successfully commodifying your history. A brief comparison between Steubenville and Marietta shows just how important these factors can be.

Both towns were laid out under the auspices of military forts, Fort Harmar in 1785 and Fort Steuben in 1787.  It would be Fort Steuben, however, that would have the stronger connection with Northwest Ordinance as it was that fort that was built to protect the surveyors of the Seven Ranges. While neither Fort Harmar nor Fort Steuben existed in 1940, the later has been reproduced and is now comparable to the Campus Martius museum in Marietta.

Much like Washington’s boast of the future site of Marietta, TOG claims that “old riverboat men pronounced Steubenville to be ‘the best town site on the Ohio’.” This site would hold the town of La Belle which grew up around Fort Steuben the same year it was constructed, one year before Marietta was established, making it the oldest Euro-American settlement in the Northwest Territory. While Marietta has the first Land Office erected in Northwest Territories  (built by the Ohio Company and Associates) visitors can find the first U.S. Land Office of the Northwest Territory, built in 1800, on the grounds of the Fort Steuben Museum.  Despite their similar origins, however,  it has been Marietta that has established itself as the place to experience Ohio History.

Whether it was a more diversified economy, easier automobile access, or a citizenry more interested in its past, Marietta has a much firmer grip on Ohioans’ historic tourism business.   Perhaps nothing epitomized this realization more than a trip up to Lookout Point, TOG’s last point-of-interest for Marietta.   In the previous post, I wrote about the missing view from the top of Angel’s Trail in Steubenville and that it was not until I reached Marietta did I understand its importance. Both Angel’s Trial and Lookout Point were part of their towns’ common space, both established around the turn of the nineteenth century.  In 1940, both were in condition enough to offer commanding views of the river valley and their respective historic towns below.  Yet while Angel’s trail only offered a view of second growth when I climbed it, Lookout Point remained a well-maintained public space, complete with binoculars, and a view for miles. Indicating the economic importance of such tourist spots, the bottom of a plaque describing Lookout Point’s history bears the inscription, “Map and plaque manufactured by Sewah Studios, Marietta, OH.”

Lookout Point, Marietta, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

West, 2012 / copyright David Bernstein

 

 

 

 

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