In downtown Marietta, Ohio, on the bank of the Muskingum River, is a large city park. This statue, sculpted by Gutzon Borglum of Mt. Rushmore fame, is entitled "Start Westward." It summarizes the history of the city. Marietta, located at the convergence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, founded in 1788, was the first settlement established in the Ohio Territories. Thus the city opened the door to migration in the United States westward from the original 13 colonies.
But the city also preserves evidence of much earlier inhabitants. In the center of the city cemetery, there is a very large burial mound of pre-historic native cultures.
The Hopewell and Adena civilizations lived in the southern Ohio before 100 B.C. Their ceremonial structures and artifacts, including this mound in Marietta, have been preserved in many places along the northern bank of the Ohio River.
Just across the Muskingum River from Marietta is Harmar Village, a small suburb which predates the main city.
The two cities are connected by highway bridges, of course, but we chose to take the scenic route! This walking/biking bridge across the river is built alongside a long abandoned railroad bridge. It was a lovely walk, but the floor boards squeaked and trembled a lot!
Harmar Village, with its brick streets and hanging baskets of purple petunias, is a quaint mixture of closed down businesses, run-down buildings, antique shops, a children's toy museum, a "soda museum" and Italian restaurants offering delicious food.
Every part of the city breathes history. Here at the Ohio River Museum, this model of an Ohio River flatboat of the early 1800s has been reconstructed. It recalls the days, before the invention of the steam-powered boats, when Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana farmers would float their produce down the Ohio River in just such a craft. Joining the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois, they would float on down to Natchez, Mississippi or New Orleans, Louisiana to sell their goods.
The steam powered paddle-wheeler, the William P. Snyder, Jr is the kind of boat that made the flatboat obsolete. It has been retired and reconditioned after a career of nearly forty years of towing barges of coal, grain, and other produce up and down the Ohio River. It is securely moored to the riverbank to prevent its escape in the floods that continue to occur in this River City.
The paddle-wheeler, The Valley Gem, continues to take passengers on excursions along the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. But the museum is closed on Tuesdays, the only day we were there!
In the 91 degree heat of the day, with humidity to match, we retreated to the truck for a driving tour in our vehicular air conditioning! St. Paul's Evangelische Kirche (Evangelical Church) was founded in 1849, the second oldest church in the city. Sermons here were in German until 1909. The earliest church in Marietta is the Congregational Christian Church, founded in 1796.
Tomorrow we are off to spend a week with our son in Athens, Ohio. From the weather predictions, we may be spending a lot of time running our generator to provide air conditioning for our rig since our site at his house does not have electricity!
Vaya con Dios. Travel well -- thru life or on the road!
Bruce and MarySue