The Ohio River is one of America’s biggest rivers. It is not the longest river by any means, but it is one of the widest rivers and also one of the deepest. It stretches from Pittsburgh down to West Virginia along the Kentucky/Ohio border, the Kentucky/Indiana border, part of Illinois and all the way down until it feeds into the Mississippi River near Cairo, Illinois. Part 1 of my report covered travel along the river from its beginnings in Pittsburgh, PA all the way to the outskirts of Cincinnati. Part 2 will cover the remainder of the river as it flows along the Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois borders and then to its confluence with the Mississippi River.
Ohio River as it flows through Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati is the third largest city in Ohio and the 25th largest city in the United States by metropolitan population and is located at the confluence of the Licking River and the Ohio River. It became known as the Queen City after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow referred to it as the “Queen of the West” in his poem “Catawba Wine.”
The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge in Covington, KY
As one enters the Cincinnati are from most directions, they will not be able to miss the unusual building called “The Ascent“, which was designed by Daniel Libeskind, one of the world’s most prominent architects. The building stands 293 feet tall, 22 stories (including one 19 floors of luxury condominiums) and ends in a sloped spiral roof. But it is not the only unique building in the area. Also on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River is an out of this world house called “The Futuro House” in Covington, located on a hill overlooking Cincinnati on the west side of Interstate 71/75, This hill also offers some amazing views of the city. The Futuro has inhabited it’s location on the hill since 1976.
The Futuro House in Covington, KY
Detail of Futuro House
Beam Me Up Scotty at the Front Door of Futuro House
From the hill you can get an awesome of view of the skyline of the city as well as a couple of the city’s other unique buildings,
Cincinnati Skyline and bridges over the Ohio River
The old Union Terminal in Cincinnati, now the Museum Center
The Union Terminal was built in 1933. One of the last great train stations built, Union Terminal has become one of the iconic symbols of Cincinnati.
The Radisson Hotel (formerly the Cincinnati Riverfront) in Covington…a round building – with a revolving restaurant
Below is an interesting video about the round hotel….and the 360 Dining restaurant at the top of it, which is the largest revolving restaurant east of Las Vegas. It is considered to be one of the top 100 romantic restaurants in the United States.
Obviously, I could write four or five posts about Cincinnati, so I’ll only mention one other spot in town…a must see…the Cincinnati Zoo. I have visited there twice and it’s one of the better zoos in my opinion. Here are a couple of photos.
The Cincinnati/Covington area has a number of bridges that cross over the Ohio. Perhaps the most famous is the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge which spans 1,057 feet across the river. At the time it was opened in December 1866, it was considered to be the world’s largest suspension bridge.
John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
Additionally, there are eight other bridges between Newport or Covington and Cincinnati, including a unique touristy pedestrian bridge from Newport affectionately called the “Purple People Bridge”. Officially called the Newport Southbank Bridge, this 2,670 foot bridge connects the Newport area, which includes an IMAX Theater, the famous Newport Aquarium and more, to Cincinnati.
Purple People Bridge
From Cincinnati, the best route to take along the river is probably the River Road which is Kentucky Highway 8 and then continue to head west on that. Hwy 8 will eventually turn south and just follow the river. This road takes one right past the Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky airport and on down the river past I- 275, which crosses over the river near the confluence of the Little Miami River and the Ohio River.
From that point you are at Kentucky Hwy 20. You can pretty much follow the river, sometimes from a distance, but other parts follow right along the river. Eventually, the road runs through the town of Hebron, the home of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Sign at Rabbit Hash Road
Continue on the same road until the river and then head south From there Hwy 20 will continue a few miles more until it runs into Kentucky Hwy 18. Then, continue south on Kentucky 18 towards Rabbit Hash, Kentucky. To get there, Hwy 18 will turn into Hwy 338 which runs for a few miles until E. Bend Rd. Just before the highway changes, you will see Rabbit Hash Road and you’ll go down that road into the small village of Rabbit Hash. This is one of the must see locations along the entire length of the Ohio River!! There is a wonderful old store, an antique shop, some historical markers, and many posters of the current mayor of the town, which is a dog. From Rabbit Hash looking across the Ohio River into Indiana, you can see the big casino resort of Rising Sun, Indiana.
Welcome to Rabbit Hash, KY
Rabbit Hash General Store
The town itself is unique, has a wonderful name, and some unique stores. And the mayor is a dog! But the views of the river or also spectacular from Rabbit Hash.
Lucy Lou, Mayor of Rabbit Hash
View of Rising Sun, Indiana
Heading south out of Rabbit Hash you’ll get back onto Kentucky Hwy 338 and follow that until it turns into Beaver Road which is still Hwy 338. Following Beaver Road, you will eventually find your way into Big Bone Lick State Park. This is a unique park in that they house a number of bison. But they’ve also found a number of prehistoric dinosaur bones in this park.
Big Bone Lick State Park, Kentucky
One of a number of bison at Big Bone Lick State Park
Just for fun you may want to continue down Hwy 338 towards US Hwys 127 and 42. When you hit that junction, you will be in Beaverlick, Kentucky. This was the home of the Beaver Lick Trading Post. The community was established as a fur trading site between 1780 and 1820. A post office was established at Beaver Lick in 1853 with John Tucker its postmaster. Beaverlick was spelled as one word by 1900.
Beaver Lick Trading Post – Now Closed
From Beaverlick, you will turn right on US one 27/42 and continue south west which will take you to a big bend in the Ohio River and at the Hwy 42 and 127 split and you’ll stay right on US Hwy 42. Following Hwy 42 right along the river will take you into the Kentucky town of Warsaw. The town is home to the Gallatin County Court House which was built in 1837. An addition was built onto it in 1868 and the Court House was remodeled in 1939. Today it stands as the oldest Court House in the state of Kentucky in continuous use.
Gallatin County Court House in Warsaw, KY
Shortly after Warsaw, you can cross the Florence – Warsaw bridge that crosses over the Ohio River. You will want to take this because it will crossover and then you can go west inn to Indiana towards the town of Vevay, Indiana (and Switzerland County). This date unique little town is dotted with wonderful giant wall murals and other oddities. Definitely worth a visit.
One of many wall murals in Vevay, Indiana
The drive west on Indiana State 56, also known as the Ohio River scenic Highway, is a beautiful drive. It will eventually get you into Madison, Indiana. There is another old bridge (the Milton-Madison Bridge) there that will cross into Kentucky if you decide to go that direction or you may continue west on the Indiana side.
If you decide to cross the river, you can cross and then head back east just a bit into Carrollton, Kentucky where there’s quite a bit of history. When you cross the river, you are right in Milton, Kentucky and then just get on Kentucky 36 E. towards Carrollton.
Before crossing over the river, you may also want to visit Clifty Falls State Park just west of Madison. This is a very scenic state park with beautiful and tranquil waterfalls.
On the Kentucky side you would continue from Milton down US 421 to Bedford, and then down US 42 which eventually gets back down along the river and heads towards the Louisville area.
I’ve already written some very nice posts about the Louisville, Jeffersonville, Clarksville area of Kentucky and Indiana. There is a great deal to see in this area on both sides of the river. Following are just a couple of photographs from the area of the you more unique places, but check this post out to see a much more detailed overview of the entire area.
World’s largest Louisville Slugger Bat in downtown Louisville
Meriwether Lewis meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio in Clarksville, IN
Jeffersonville, Indiana Visitors Center
One of the many floodwall murals of Jeffersonville, Indiana
Out of Louisville you can proceed SW on US31W towards West Point or can proceed out of Clarksville through New Albany and then along the river on Indiana 111.
Personally, I have not been along this portion of the river. It meanders north, almost hitting I-64 in Indiana (near Leavenworth, IN). From Leavenworth you can go west on Indiana 62 to Sulphur and then follow Indiana 66 south to Derby, which sits on the river as it bends nearly 90° southward. Following 66 you eventually get in Cannelton, and then north to Tell City (Perry County, IN) and eventually into Troy.
Sunset Park Floodwall Mural in Tell City, IN
From Troy you can continue along the river on 66 or, if you wish a fun detour, head west on Indiana 70 to 245 and go north a few miles to Santa Claus, Indiana. Though not officially a river town, it is close enough for an excellent detour!
Santa Claus, Indiana Post Office
Giant Santa Claus Statue in Santa Claus, Indiana
Back on Indiana 66 you can continue along the river to US 231 and cross over the bridge into Kentucky and then follow 231 west into Owensboro, one of the bigger cities along the river. Or, if you wish, you can remain on Indiana 66 into Evansville, another of the big cities on the river. From there, the river once again meanders it’s way south and west passing towns like Shawneetown, IN, Henderson, KY, and a number of small towns.
Colorful building fronts of Paducah, Kentucky
The next must stop location is in Paducah, KY. While here one can see the amazing flood wall murals,,the National Quilt Museum and more. The town is also at the confluence of the Tennessee River and the Ohio.
Lewis and Clark Statues with Sacajawea and some Indians in Paducah
Part of Flood Wall Murals in Paducah
Old Church in Paducah
From Paducah you can cross the river on US 45 into Brookport, IL. Follow US 45 past Fort Massac State Park and then into Metropolis, IL, another must stop town along the river.
Welcome to Metropolis, IL
Metropolis is the home of the giant Superman statue, a superman museum, giant Superman mural and another giant statue at a grocery storekeeper the outskirts of town.
Sumoflam with Superman in Metropolis, IL
Superman Mural in Metropolis, IL
Giant Grocer Statue in Metropolis, IL
On the Kentucky side, the last town you see is Wickliffe, which is actually on the Mississippi River just south of the major confluence of the Ohio as it flows into Mississippi. The town of Cairo, IL actually is at this confluence and is the official end point of the journey along the Ohio.
Bridge over Mississippi River at Cairo, IL
Great River Road at Cairo…where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi River