Rabbit Hash General Store

Travels Along the Length of the Ohio River: Pt 2 – Cincinnati to Cairo

Ohio River

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

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 in Cincinnati

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

The Futuro House in Covington, KY

Detail of Futuro House

Detail of Futuro House

Beam Me Up Scotty at the Front Door 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

Cincinnati Skyline and bridges over the Ohio River

The old Union Terminal in Cincinnati, now the Museum Center

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 in Covington...a round building

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.

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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.

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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

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

Welcome to Rabbit Hash, KY

Rabbit Hash General Store

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

Lucy Lou, Mayor of Rabbit Hash

View of Rising Sun, Indiana

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

Big Bone Lick State Park, Kentucky

One of a number of bison at Big Bone Lick State Park

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

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

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.

Carrollton, KY

Carrollton, KY

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.

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

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

World’s largest Louisville Slugger Bat in downtown Louisville

Meriwether Lewis meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio in Clarksville, IN

Meriwether Lewis meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio in Clarksville, IN

Jeffersonville, Indiana Visitors Center

Jeffersonville, Indiana Visitors Center

One of the many floodwall murals of Jeffersonville, Indiana

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

Santa Claus, Indiana Post Office

Giant Santa Claus Statue in Santa Claus, Indiana

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.

Paducah, Kentucky

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

Lewis and Clark Statues with Sacajawea and some Indians in Paducah

Part of Flood Wall Murals in Paducah

Part of Flood Wall Murals in Paducah

Old Church 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

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

Sumoflam with Superman in Metropolis, IL

Superman Mural in Metropolis, IL

Superman Mural in Metropolis, IL

Giant Grocer Statue 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

Bridge over Mississippi River at Cairo, IL

Great River Road at Cairo...where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi River

Great River Road at Cairo…where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi River

tui-snider-unexpected-texas-books

New Book on Texas Travel: Tui Snider – Unexpected Texas

Tui Snider - author of "Unexpected Texas" (courtesy of Tui Snider)

Tui Snider – author of “Unexpected Texas” (courtesy of Tui Snider)

Throughout my time as a travel blogger I have had the opportunity to correspond and exchange notes with many other travel bloggers who are also find of the offbeat and quirky. One of those with whom I have worked with often is Tui Snider, from Azle, Texas.

Tui is a freelance writer and travel blogger specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cultural traditions, and quirky travel destinations. Her articles and photos have appeared in BMIbaby, easyJet, Wizzit, Click, Ling, PlanetEye Traveler, iStopover, SkyEurope, and North Texas Farm and Ranch magazines, among others. She also wrote the shopping chapter for the “Time Out Naples: Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast 2010” travel guidebook. Unexpected Texas is her first book.

Unexpected Texas excerpt (courtesy of Tui Snider)

Unexpected Texas excerpt (courtesy of Tui Snider)

First off, I am honored to have been asked to be a part of her “Blog Tour” and to help interested travelers find another valuable guide for seeing some of the more unusual and fun parts of our great country. (Also, some lucky viewers will won some nice prizes….see below for details!!) I have had a chance to peruse this book and it is really chock full of splendid places on back roads you never heard of. Having traveled 1000s of miles of Texas backroads myself, I know that this will likely be Tui’s first book, but not last, on the wonders of Texas.

Unexpected Texas Cover features the famous Cowboy Hat adorned Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas (photo courtesy of Tui Snider)

Unexpected Texas Cover features the famous Cowboy Hat adorned Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas (photo courtesy of Tui Snider)

Some of the places, such as the Paris, Texas Eiffel Tower that adorns her cover are places I have been.

 

Sumoflam at Eiffel Tower in 2007 (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

Sumoflam at Eiffel Tower in 2007 (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

Looking up at Eiffel Tower (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

Looking up at Eiffel Tower (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

For Tui, travel is a mindset. Her motto is “Even home is a travel destination,” and she believes that “The world is only boring if you take everyone else’s word for it.” She has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. Her first book, “Unexpected Texas” is a guide to offbeat and overlooked places within easy reach of the Dallas – Fort Worth region of North Texas.

The Nutt House Hotel in Granbury Square, one of the locations covered in Tui Snider's book.

The Nutt House Hotel in Granbury Square, one of the locations covered in Tui Snider’s book.

Tui provides a nice overview of the quirky, offbeat and even scary places around north Texas, sharing often overlooked travel tips for places within a day’s drive of Dallas and Fort Worth. Some of the quirkier chapters include details on how to visit the:

  • Gravesite of an alleged space alien.
  • Courthouse displaying an embalmed lizard in a velvet-lined casket.
  • Statue of Jesus wearing cowboy boots.
  • Museum commemorating the lynching of Santa Claus.
  • Life-sized wax replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
  • Building made entirely of salt.
  • 65 foot tall Eiffel Tower replica.
  • Petrified wood cafe.
  • World’s smallest skyscraper.
  • Only Michelangelo painting in America.
The Old Douglas Hotel in Mineral Wells, 1930s hotel to the stars (and Bonny and Clyde). Covered by Tui Snider in her book (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

The Old Douglas Hotel in Mineral Wells, 1930s hotel to the stars (and Bonny and Clyde). Covered by Tui Snider in her book (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

Personally, I have driven hundreds of miles of roads in Texas and visited over 100 cities and towns, including a few of the places Tui covers in her book, such as Mineral Wells and the famous Douglas Hotel, where it was rumored that Bonnie and Clyde had stayed numerous times. I have also been to the Fort Worth Stockyards, Granbury, Denton, the Fossil Rim Animal Park and more. But I have barely scratched the surface in terms of the number of places Tui details in this great book!

Pecos Bill, the giant longhorn for photo ops at the Fort Worth Stockyards (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

Pecos Bill, the giant longhorn for photo ops at the Fort Worth Stockyards (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

As an author, Tui now has a page of her own on Amazon

You can also find Tui all around the web. Feel free to drop by and say say hi:

Tui Snider’s Offbeat & Overlooked Travel Blog

Tui Snider’s Facebook Author Page

Tui Snider’s awesome Instagram Page

Tui’s Pinterest Page

Sumoflam LOVES visiting Texas!!

Sumoflam LOVES visiting Texas!!

Mail Pouch Barn in Friendly, WV

Travels Along the Length of the Ohio River: Pt 1 – Pittsburgh to Cincinnati

Ohio River

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.

Three Rivers in Pittsburgh - start of the Ohio River

Three Rivers in Pittsburgh – start of the Ohio River
River Crossing near Cairo, IL

River Crossing near Cairo, IL

Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to travel along much of the length of the river on both sides. Essentially, if one can say they circumnavigated a river, then that is what I have pretty much done with the Ohio River.

Ohio River bridge between Cincinnati and Newport, KY

Ohio River bridge between Cincinnati and Newport, KY

Obviously, this has not been done in one trip. It has taken me many different trips to visit the many sites along the river, but each has warranted many unique surprises and interesting stops.

Hillbilly Hot Dogs near Lesage, WV

Hillbilly Hot Dogs near Lesage, WV – one of many unique places on the Ohio River

Throughout my travels in United States, I have also traversed many a mile along the Mississippi River, I have traversed most of the Missouri River, and I have crossed over or traveled along the length of many of the other large rivers in the United States. But few offer the variety of scenic nature coupled with history that the Ohio River offers along that trek.

Scenic Ohio River between West Virginia and Kentucky

Scenic Ohio River between West Virginia and Kentucky

The various towns and villages along the river offer an abundance of history, architecture, flora and fauna. There are some towns that are dying and are trying to get a rebirth. One can see a number of quirky and offbeat places along the river. And there are many towns that have large outdoor murals painted along river retaining walls.

Scene from a River Wall mural in Paducah, KY

Scene from a River Wall mural in Paducah, KY

In this post I plan on covering the entire length of the river from north to south beginning in Pittsburgh, where the river is born and then all the way to Cairo, IL.  Less a travelogue and more of a picture and story post, I want to show the abundance and variety that can be seen on both sides of the river.

Rabbit Hash General Store in Kentucky

Rabbit Hash General Store in Kentucky

Above is a map of the entire length of the river, with sites that I will note in this blog pinpointed on the map.

Before I get started, here are a few unique facts about the Ohio River.

  • The Ohio River is 981 miles long
  • At the confluence of the Ohio River and the Mississippi River, the Ohio River is actually bigger than the Mississippi River is. It is the main stream of the Mississippi.
  • The river gets it start where the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River join in Pittsburgh.
  • There are nine major metropolitan areas along the river including the following: Pittsburgh, Wheeling, West Virginia; Parkersburg, West Virginia; Huntington, West Virginia; Steubenville, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Evansville, Indiana; Owensboro, Kentucky; and, Paducah, Kentucky.
One of many Ohio River Crossings

One of many Ohio River Crossings

  • As of this writing, there are 116 known crossings over the river including bridges, dams and locks, railroad bridges, and ferry crossings.
  • The river has been used since prehistoric times by the Native Americans, was a transportation route for many of the Native Americans in the 1600s, was used by European explorers, and the location near Louisville was where Meriwether Lewis originally met John Clark to determine and set the course for the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Meriwether Lews meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio near present day Clarksville, IN

Meriwether Lews meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio near present day Clarksville, IN

The Ohio River North to South from Pittsburgh, PA – Cincinnati, OH

Downtown Pittsburgh - where the Ohio River gets its start

Downtown Pittsburgh – where the Ohio River gets its start

Pittsburgh is a fun town and could probably warrant a two or three day visit.  Lots of great art too!

Colorful Dinosaur

A colorful dinosaur at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, originally part of Dinomite Days in 2003. This one is called “Alphabetasaurus” and was painted by elementary school children.

Arch - Transformer like robot made of bridges in downtown Pittsburgh, created by Glenn Kaino in 2008

Arch – 20 foot tall Transformer like robot made of bridges in downtown Pittsburgh, created by Glenn Kaino in 2008

"Walking to the Sky" by Jonathan Borofsky

“Walking to the Sky” by Jonathan Borofsky, located on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh

The river flows north out of Pittsburgh and reaches its northernmost point in Rochester, PA, passing by Freedom, PA along the way. Form there it arches southwest towards the panhandle of West Virginia where it passes under the bridge separating East Liverpool, OH and Chester, WV, which is the northernmost point of WV at the tip top of the panhandle.

World's Largest Teapot in Chester, West Virginia

World’s Largest Teapot in Chester, West Virginia

Chester, WV is home to the “World’s Largest Teapot”, which serves as the town’s tourism office. The Jennings Randolph Memorial Bridge spans 754 feet across the Ohio into East Liverpool. Just south is another bridge, the Newell Toll bridge, which crosses from East Liverpool into Newell, WV and has about a 742 foot span as well. East Liverpool is also known as the Pottery Capital of the World.

Aerial view East Liverpool, OH (bottom) and Chester, WV (top) with the William Jennings Bridge crossing over the Ohio River. The small island is Babbs Island (from Wikipedia)

From there one can head south on either side of the river. The Ohio side has the Ohio River Scenic Byway (OH Hwy 7) and on the West Virginia side out of Chester is Ohio River Blvd. (WV Hwy 2). Both sides make wonderful scenic drives and there are many points where one can criss-cross over the River. The Ohio River Scenic Byway is also in Indiana and Illinois and is designated a national Scenic Byway.

A typical scene of Ohio River as seen from the Scenic Byway

A typical scene of Ohio River as seen from the Scenic Byway

The first major town on the Ohio side is Toronto.  An old industrial town, Toronto is currently known as the Gem City. Though industry has declined, the town does have a nice scenic feel to it.

Welcome to Steubenville, OH

Welcome to Steubenville, OH

The next major stop down Ohio Highway 7 is the hillside town of Steubenville, Ohio. It is another town that has been decimated by the loss of industrial work, but they have strived diligently to build a revitalization campaign for the town to bring tourism in.

Fort Steuben Historical Site, Steubenville, OH

Fort Steuben Historical Site, Steubenville, OH

Historical Fort Steuben

Historical Fort Steuben

It is home to an old army fort called Fort Steuben. They have rebuilt much of it so you can visit there and get some historical perspective.

Dean Martin mural in Steubenville, OH painted by Robert Dever in 1998

Dean Martin mural in Steubenville, OH painted by Robert Dever in 1998

Sumoflam and Dino in Steubenville

Sumoflam and Dino in Steubenville

But, of more interest to me,  is the number of murals that dot the town. Following is a selection of 4 or 5 of my favorites including the beautiful mural of Dean Martin who was originally from Steubenville.

River Scene Mural in Steubenville, OH

“River Reflections” Mural by Susan Kelly Frye and David Frye in Steubenville, OH

Stanton Park mural by Alan Wylie of Glasgow, Scotland

Stanton Park mural by Alan Wylie of Glasgow, Scotland

Market Street by Michael Wojczuk.  This was the first mural painted in Steubenville

Market Street by Michael Wojczuk. This was the first mural painted in Steubenville

Also below is the statue of a steelworker which is right at the end of the Market Street Bridge crossing over the Ohio River into Steubenville from West Virginia.

Ohio Valley Steelworker by Dmitri Akis

Ohio Valley Steelworker by Dmitri Akis in Steubenville, OH

Across the river is the West Virginia town of Weirton. It extends from the Ohio border on the west to the Pennsylvania border on the east at a point where the northern extension of West Virginia is five miles across. Therefore, it is the only city in the United States that borders two other states on two sides, and its own state on the other two. Weirton has been the scene for a number of well known movies including Deer Hunter and Super 8, among others.

Brilliant, Ohio

Continuing south on Ohio highway seven, you can drive through the uniquely named town of Brilliant, Ohio. Brilliant is the home of the nationally known Wells Township haunted house. The town got its name originally from the glass factory of the same name that was located there. Obviously, the town name is a shining example of some of the unique town names we have in this country.

Further south is the town of Bridgeport, Ohio which is directly across the river from Wheeling, West Virginia. This is also a unique spot on the river as the bridges cross one of the Ohio River’s largest islands, called Wheeling Island in between the town of Wheeling and the town of Bridgeport. Wheeling Island is the most populated island in the Ohio River. It lies within the city of Wheeling in West Virginia and is also the home of a large casino and resort.

If you are a history buff, you will find that Wheeling, West Virginia is a haven of Civil War and West Virginia history.

Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, WV

Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, WV

Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, WV

Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, WV

If you continue on the West Virginia side of the river, you’ll make your way into the town of Moundsville. Named for the large Indian burial mound (Grave Creek Mound), the town was also home to the architecturally amazing West Virginia Penitentiary. And if you are interested in toys, the Marx Toy Museum is well worth a visit…just to see the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.

Historic West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville

Historic West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville

Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville

Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville

Rock Em Sock Em Robots

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots

Continuing on South and a bit west, on Ohio Route 7, you arrive in the picturesque town of Powhatan Point. While “Powhatan” likely memorializes the Native-American tribe of the same name, the “Point” in the town’s name refers to the confluence between Captina Creek and the Ohio River. Powhatan Point is the closest town on the Ohio side of Captina Island in the Ohio River.

Powhatan Point, Ohio

Powhatan Point, Ohio

A classic old house on the outskirts of Powhatan Point...history before your very eyes

A classic old house on the outskirts of Powhatan Point…history before your very eyes

Across the river from Powhatan are two 400 foot tall cooling towers of the Willow Island Generating station. These massive structures really impress when you drive by them on WV Hwy 2 and you can see how cars and trucks look like little ants in comparison. The drive down the road further provides some views of manufacturing and chemical plants as you approach New Martinsville, WV.

Willow Island Cooling Towers as seen from near Powhatan Point

Willow Island Cooling Towers as seen from near Powhatan Point

Willow Island Cooling Towers as seen from the West Virginia side

Willow Island Cooling Towers as seen from the West Virginia side.  They are over 400 feet tall

A few miles south on the WV side is the small town of Sistersville. This town was well known for its ferry, which crosses the river into the unincorporated village of Fly, Ohio, which is really only a portage point for the ferry. Known as the oldest ferry in West Virginia, it has been in continuous operation since 1817. The historic Fly Ferry Landing in Fly, Ohio has been Operating since 1815, and is the longest continuous working mode of transportation in Monroe County and one of only four remaining on the Ohio River between Pittsburgh and the Mississippi River. It is the only one in operation along the 277 miles of river bordering West Virginia.

Sistersville Ferry, Sistersville, WV

Sistersville Ferry, Sistersville, WV

Fly, OH

Fly Landing for Sistersvlle Ferry, in Fly, Ohio

The Fly Landing is located on the apex of the longest straight stretch on the Ohio River called the “Long Reach.” The landing is near the site where George Washington encamped during a survey trip to the west on Oct. 25, 1770. It is owned and operated by the City of Sisterville, WV.

Fly, Ohio

Fly, Ohio

On the West Virginia side of the river, still on WV Route 2, you will eventually wind your way into another fun named town…the town of Friendly, WV.  This town is the setting for the novel Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

Friendly, West Virginia

Friendly, West Virginia

Mail Pouch Barn in Friendly, WV

Mail Pouch Barn in Friendly, WV

The Mail Pouch barn, shown above, is one of many done by the Bloch Brothers Tobacco Company.  According to Wikipedia, there were over 20,000 of these barns painted in 22 states during the 1960s.   I have seen a few and have photos of a few from Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and other locations.

St. Mary's Basilica, Marietta, OH

Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption, Marietta, OH

Proceeding southwest on Ohio Route 7 you will eventually find your way to the historic town of Marietta, Ohio.  Marietta was established on April 7, 1788 as the first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory.  It is also home of a prehistoric Adena burial mound and the Mound Cemetery was built around it to protect this burial ground.  It is also home to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption, which was originally called St. Mary Church and completed in 1909, though the Catholic presence has been there since August 16, 1749 when Rev. Joseph Peter de Bonnecamp, S.J. offered a Mass for Celeron de Brienville and his 300 troops and local Native Americans at the confluence of the Muskingum River and the Ohio River on. The church was later designated a minor Basilica by Pope Francis in 2013.

Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption, Marietta, Ohio

Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption, Marietta, Ohio

The next major area of population is the Parkersburg, WV/Belpre, OH area. Due to busy schedules, I have never really had a chance to spend much time in this area.  But it is chock full of history and would make an awesome day trip!!

Parkersburg-Belpre Bridge, built in 1980

Parkersburg-Belpre Bridge, built in 1980

A few more miles down Ohio Hwy 7 joins with US 50 and runs you through the unincorporated town of Torch., which is separated from the river by about three miles. Torch is interesting because the next town down is Coolville and just a bit northeast of both is the town of Frost, OH. A bit of hot and cold! Torch is also home to the “Healing Chapel” which is proclaimed to be “the smallest church in Ohio.”  At 10 x 14 and with only enough room to seat 6 or 7 people.  It is located at the rest area near Ohio 62 just off of US 50.

Torch, Ohio

Torch, Ohio

The Healing Chapel - Ohio's Smallest Church

The Healing Chapel – Ohio’s Smallest Church

Proceeding south just about 4 miles you come to the town of Coolville, OH.  I am only aware of one other town with Cool in its name and that is in Cool, Texas.  Only a town of about 500 people, it still has a cool personality!

Coolville, Ohio

Coolville, Ohio

Coolville Welcome Sign, Coolville, OH

Coolville Welcome Sign, Coolville, OH

Old Coolville Wall Mural "Building Community One Block at a Time"

Old Coolville Wall Mural “Building Community One Block at a Time”

From this point the river meanders southeast and the roads take you southwest. On the Ohio side from Coolville, Hwy 7 distances itself from the river until it reaches a big northward bend in the river at OH Hwy 833 near Pomeroy, OH.  In West Virginia, WV Hwy 2 joins with Interstate 77 at Parkersburg and veers way east of the river until Hwy 2 merges with US Hwy 33 near Ravenswood, WV. Once can follow US 33 across the river into Ohio and then on to OH Hwy 7 near Pomeroy or can remain in West Virginia and follow WV Hwy 2 away from the river and west until it reaches Point Pleasant, WV which would be the next destination of interest for either road as OH Hwy 7 and WV Hwy 2 seem to converge when Hwy 2 hits US 35 at the Silver Memorial Bridge.

Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Sitting at the confluence of the Kanawha River as it folows into the Ohio River, and established in 1794, Point Pleasant is treasure trove of history going way back to the Battle of Point Pleasant (also known as the Battle of Kanawha) took place on Oct. 10, 1774.  This was a battle between the Shawnee Indians, led by Chief Cornstalk and the Virginia militia led by Colonel Andrew Lewis. Lewis prevailed and a treaty was signed.  There is now a towering obelisk in town to memorialize this battle.

Monument dedicated to the Battle of Point Pleasant

Monument dedicated to the Battle of Point Pleasant

Point Pleasant has a marvelous floodwall mural depicting this battle (see a number of my photos here).  The mural was painted by world renown mural artist Robert Dafford, who has also painted major floodwall murals in Covington, KY; Paducah, KY; Portsmouth, OH and in Louisiana.

Part of the Dafford floodwall mural in Point Pleasant, WV

Part of the Dafford floodwall mural in Point Pleasant, WV

Portion of Dafford mural with sculptures of Chief Cornstalk and Colonel Andrew Lewis

Portion of Dafford mural with sculptures of Chief Cornstalk and Colonel Andrew Lewis

But history is not the only drawing card to Point Pleasant.  Indeed, mystery surrounds this town with one of the more unusual legends to be found in the U.S.  Point Pleasant is the home of “The Mothman,” a legendary winged creature that was reportedly seen in the area from mid-November 1966 to mid-December 1967.  Some have explained this “red eyed” creature as an alien while others note that it sounded like descriptions of a sand crane, including the red eyes that seemed to glow.  Since that time there has been a book by John Keel, written in 1975 and a film, starring Richard Gere, called “The Mothman Prophecies.”  There is also a “Mothman Museum and Research Center” along with a 12-foot-tall metallic statue of the creature which was created by artist Robert Roach.

The Mothman by Robert Roach, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia

The Mothman by Robert Roach, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Glowing Red Eyes of the Mothman

Glowing Red Eyes of the Mothman

Mothman Museuam in Point Pleasant, WV

Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, WV

One last item of note…on both an historical point as well as the Mothman, in December 1967 the Silver Bridge, which at the time was a suspension bridge that had been built in 1928 to connect Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, OH over the Ohio River, collapsed causing 46 people to fall to their death.  In 1969 the Silver Memorial Bridge was completed to replace it. This bridge is 1,964 feet in length.

Silver Memorial Bridge (photo from Wikipedia)

You can continue south on WV Hwy 2 for about 30 miles into the small village of Lesage, WV.  Near the National Historic Landmark of “Clover Site“, this town of a little over 1,300 people is also the home of the totally quirky and offbeat Hillbilly Hot Dogs, home of the giant 15″ “Homewrecker” dog.  This place has been featured on a few TV shows including Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Using an old school bus for the restaurant, the property is decked out with all sorts of kitschy items and junk, rolls of toilet paper, old license plates and more. Really a lot of fun.

Hillbilly Hot Dogs, Lesage, WV

Hillbilly Hot Dogs, Lesage, WV

Hillbilly Hot Dogs, home of the Homewrecker

Hillbilly Hot Dogs, home of the Homewrecker

Yes, even hillbillies can have a website....

Yes, even hillbillies can have a website….

The drive along the river continues south into Huntington, WV.  Just for fun, veer off eastward on US Hwy 60 into Barboursville to get a shot of their Pink Elephant.

Pink Elephant in Barboursville, WV

Pink Elephant in Barboursville, WV (just east of Huntington, WV)

From the Huntington area, the Ohip River heads north through the oil refineries of Ashland, Kentucky as it begins to form the borders of Kentucky and Ohio. One can follow US 52 north on the Ohio side or US 23 north on the Kentucky side.  Both will lead you to the beautiful river town of Portsmouth, OH.  I once had the occasion to visit and didn’t have my camera with me.  But this river town is another one of the Flood Wall Mural meccas of Robert Dafford.  There are 44 murals in the town, many on a 2000 foot long 20 foot tall flood wall “canvas.”

Chillicothe Street 1940s by Robert Dafford in Portsmouth, OH

Chillicothe Street 1940s by Robert Dafford in Portsmouth, OH

The river meanders its way westward to the next big crossing at Maysville, Kentucky and its neighboring historical are of Washington, KY.  On the Ohio side you can follow US 52, but on the Kentucky side you must veer way south on KY Hwy 9, until you get to US 62.

William H. Harsha Bridge from Maysville, KY into Ohio.

William H. Harsha Bridge from Maysville, KY into Ohio.

The William H. Harsha bridge spans nearly 2100 feet across the river and is one of the more beautiful recent bridges on the river, having opened in 2000.

Unfortunately, between Maysville and Cincinnati, I have not had the opportunity to travel along the river yet.  So, I’ll end this part of the trek in Newport, Kentucky overlooking Cincinnati at night.  Part 2 will cover the remainder from Cincinnati to Louisville and on to Paducah, KY and Cairo, IL.

Cincinnati, Ohio as seen from Newport, KY

Cincinnati, Ohio as seen from Newport, KY

Enjoying the Ride on the Back Roads of America

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