MTM Cincinnati: The Ohio River

There are five major rivers in North America, or at least north of the Rio Grande. The St. Lawrence joins America and Canada, serving as a border in some places. The Columbia drains the Rockies into the Pacific Ocean. The Mississippi is the longest, being the most important waterway in the United States.  It’s basin is formed by two major tributaries, the western one being the Missouri.

In the east, it’s the Ohio River, which is also what ultimately gave birth to Cincinnati.

The name comes from its Iroquois name “Oyo.”  It is formed by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in downtown Pittsburgh.  981 miles later, it empties into the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois.  The river is dammed in several places to ease navigation.

Barges are the primary means of transportation on the river.  This hearkens back to the history of cities such as Cincinnati, Louisville, and Paducah, Kentucky, as riverboat towns.  Indeed, passenger riverboats still ply the river from Pittsburgh all the way down to New Orleans.

The river birthed Cincinnati.  Originally the home of Shawnee Indians and the Ft. Ancients before them, the section between the Little and Great Miami Rivers made an attractive settlement for Europeans.  As the town grew, steamboats became the city’s main industry.  Steamboats were built in Columbia-Tusculum, the riverfront neighborhood east of downtown along what is now Kellogg Avenue.  Many of the streets south of Lunken Airport still bear names such as “Anchorage,” hearkening back those early days.

The river also provided a means for Northern Kentucky (the three counties along the Ohio inside the 275 Loop) after its seedy gangster past.  In the early 1990’s, the cities of Covington and Newport began remaking the riverfront.  Covington now has a skyline.  Two new hotels have sprung in Newport, and Newport-on-the-Levee anchors

Cincinnati, after leaving its own riverfront lay fallow for over a decade, has started developing the space between Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium.  The Banks, which was a vacant lot surrounding the Underground Railroad Museum for many years, is now being developed.

The biggest event on the river in Cincinnati is the annual WEBN Fireworks.  Which we’ll discuss next week.

More at the My Town Monday blog.

3 thoughts on “MTM Cincinnati: The Ohio River

  1. There’s something about rivers and the life they bring to their surroundings that always captures my interest. Thanks for posting about the wonderful Ohio.

  2. debra took the words from me. Rivers and their towns, the boats and barges, are unspeakably romantic to me.

    Now, blow it up like you promised!

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