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Ohio River Scenic Byway Tours: Shawnee Lookout to East Liverpool

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

Ohio River Islands: Lesage Island in Southeast Ohio.

Ohio River Islands: Lesage Island in Southeast Ohio.

The Big River is a National Scenic Byway

In 1996, the Ohio River Scenic Byway became one of the 14 National Scenic Byways first chosen in the United States.

This honor gives the river, translated as Big River from the local Native American name, a distinction not unlike that of being one of the 13 Original Colonies.

The Ohio River is commemorated in the State Song, Beautiful Ohio, and passes through 14 different counties between Indiana and Pennsylvania. In West Virginia and Kentucky, it has sometimes been called Big Sandy River. The place farthest to the south in the state is a city called South Point, which sits along the river and enjoys its own festival to celebrate its location.

Tugboat on the Ohio River

Tugboat on the Ohio River

Ohio Means "Big River"

The Iroquois Confederacy, the oldest representative Democracy in the world, named our river Ohio, which means "Big River."

The name was given a twist by the wonderful French traders to become "The Beautiful" or "La Belle Riviere" - as if to say there is only one beautiful river and none other like it.

I had a Mohawk-French ancestor at the Battle of Fort Pitt 300+ years ago. He translated for the British, Natives, and Colonists. It was always Big River to him.

Ohio River Scenic Byway: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio

Ohio River Scenic Byway: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio

Our Big River flows from northeast to southwest toward the Mississippi River, their waters mixing and flowing into the Gulf of Mexico at the wonderful city of New Orleans, where Fats Domino still lives, despite flooding and anything else that came his way.

The river is the natural and official boundary between Ohio and West Virginia and Ohio and Kentucky. Flowing westward, the river forms the southern boundary of Indiana and Illinois, each state having numerous points of interest along the highways nearby, with additional places to see on islands in the river.

Moving eastward, the portion of this famous waterway in our state is separated into Western, Central, and Eastern segments of the Upper Ohio River. You might take a week or two to visit our cities and monuments across 14 counties and take pictures for an online scrapbook to share with social media friends and family.

When you visit, you can plan on using your automobile or half a dozen other modes of movement - see it all by car, kayak, paddleboat, train, bicycle or Segway.

East and West Terminuses and Southernmost Point of Ohio

Important Cities to See on the River

  • North Bend OH: Stop by Lawrenceburg, Indiana first and and see the Sachem Ghost Ship that Thomas Edison once used and proceed to Shawnee Lookout in North Bend to explore Native American grounds.
  • Utopia: A ghost town.
  • Cincinnati OH and Covington KY: Walk across the Purple People Bridge or on dedicated special event days, climb and walk over the top of it. Cincinnati is full of enough sights and sightseeing places that you can spend several days here.
  • Point Pleasant: Hiram Ulysses Grant (US President Ulysses S. Grant) was born here in April 1822 and picked up the middle name Simpson by mistake made in records later on. His schoolhouse is still standing in Point Pleasant.
  • Portsmouth: Shawnee University and Main Street Portsmouth keep visitors engaged.
  • South Point: The very bottom of Ohio.
  • Marietta: Visit Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge that extend from here to West Virginia. Marietta itself is another riverboat center and supports the Ohio River Museum. In its three buildings, the museum highlights the origins and natural history of the Big River, the history of the steamboat, exhibits about boat building, the 40+ varieties of mussels in the Ohio River system, and equipment from the steamboat era. Outside, visitors often enjoy a guided tour of the W. P. Snyder Jr., which is the last complete steam-powered pool-type stern-wheeler that America has.
  • Hannibal Locks and Dam: Hannibal, Ohio and East Liverpool.
  • Bellaire OH: Famous landmarks here have appeared in major films. The Bellaire Toll Bridge was in The Silence of the Lambs. The curved railroad viaduct over the Ohio River was in Unstoppable. A dozen glass companies operated here and the Imperial Glass Museum is interesting to visit.
  • East Liverpool: This is the place where the notorious Pretty Boy Floyd died.

The river goes on to border Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky to Cairo, Illinois and the Mississippi River. The entire waterway is used by business and the public.

Thomas Edison's Ghost Ship

The ghost ship was assigned to Thomas Edison by the US Department of the Navy. He used it to research many of his inventions.

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Thomas Edison, Ships and Parks

NavSource Online tells us that the Sachem is a Coastal Patrol Yacht from 1902, first named Celt, renamed Sachem.

The US Navy took the ship in 1917 near the end of WWI. After the war, it changed hands several times and became a fishing boat.The US Navy bought it again for WWII, renamed the Phenakite.

After the world wear, the ship changed hands several times, renamed Sachem and then Sightseer. The ship was found in a tributary of the the Ohio River near Lawrenceburg, Indiana and can be seen under the water, like the sunken ships in Bay City, Michigan.

The ghost ship was assigned to Thomas Edison by the US Department of the Navy. He used it to research many of his inventions. A bust of Thomas Edison stands at the front entrance of the United State Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. Find the ghost ship near:

Shawnee Lookout State Park and Preserve Areas and Shawnee Lookout Archeological District: 2008 Lawrenceberg Rd. North Bend, OH 45052

A number of Native American artifacts have been discovered here by crews from the University of Cincinnati who have been digging around the native earthworks.

A wildlife refuge is also on site at Ulmansiek Wildlife Sanctuary. A golf course and several other venues are within this area and winter sports are popular.

East of Cincinnati is Utopia, a ghost town founded by spiritualists and anarchists.

East of Cincinnati is Utopia, a ghost town founded by spiritualists and anarchists.

Cincinnati and Ohio River Boat Tours

American Cruise Lines. 1.800.460.4518

  • St. Louis to Cincinnati.
  • Cruise from either end of the circuit at St. Louis MO or Cincinnati OH, with stops at the River Heritage Museum in Paducah KY, Cave-in-Rock State Park, and Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY.

American Queen Steamboat Company. 1-888-749-5280

  • Five Days - Cincinnati Round Trip, covering parts of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. The Six-Day Cruise includes West Virginia.
  • Nine Days - Cincinnati to St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Several other cruises are available.

BB Riverboats. 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, KY 41071. 1-800-261-8586 @BBRiverboats

  • Over 30 years in business, this company is located just across the river from Cincinnati. Visit the Newport Aquarium, if you stop here.
  • Thanksgiving Day dinner cruises include entertainment, but many people like the daytime lunch and evening dinner cruises in the spring and summer months. Another special cruise happens on Labor Day.
  • Daytime cruises include a banjo player and the option to skip lunch at a cost savings. Snacks are available on the top deck.
  • Special cruises: Fiesta Friday Dinner Cruise - DJ and dancing after dinner. Dixieland Jazz Brunch and Dinner, Captain's Lunch and Dinner, Stonebrook Winery Sunset Cruise, Admiral's Dinner,Tropical Dinner, Christian Moerlein Beer & BBQ Cruise.
  • At night, see the fireworks at the end of the game at the Reds' Riverfront Stadium. Also see Paul Brown Stadium and Nippert Stadium (at nearby University of Cincinnati)

Celebration Riverboats. 848 Elm St. Ludlow KY. 1-877-651-6752

  • Cruises with food service and alcohol available. Different cuisines on different boats. Brunch, lunch, dinner. Holiday Meals.
  • Moonlight Cruises.
  • Mystery Cruises.
  • Charters are offered.

Queen City Riverboats.303 Dodd Road, Dayton KY 41074. 1-859-292-8687

  • Charters, special event cruises, shuttle cruises to Cincinnati events.
  • Picnic Lunch Cruises - Discounts for Senior Citizens. 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM.
  • Public Dinner Cruises: 6:60 - 9:00 PM.

The Steamer Belle of Louisville. 401 West River Road Louisville KY. 1-866-832-0011.

  • Built in the early 1800s, when Cincinnati became the first major water port leading to the Western Frontier.
  • Dinner and lunch cruises include entertainment as well as historical narration of the voyage. A dance floor is included.
  • Tours, charters, field trips.

River Segway Tour: Louisville - Cincinnati

Cincinnati Paddlefest and Other Activities

Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals

South Point Village: the Huntington-Ashland WV-KY-OH Area

Marietta, Another Riverboat Capital

A Wildlife Refuge in the River

Our state's Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge is a remarkable place opened in 1990 for preserving the wildlife and native plants in the local floodplain. It has twenty-two islands gathered in the middle of the river, along with four area of mainland, all extending around 360 miles through the waterway.The underwater world is as fascinating that that above ground, including parts of the states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.

Our national refuge islands are being reforested after decades of local farming, oil and gas extraction (increasing in Southeastern Ohio), and some mining activities.

This is a great place on the river for bird watching! Migratory birds and some underwater life are highlighted to visitors by literature about the refuge through the Ohio Department Of Natural Resources.

Hannibal Locks and Dam

The Movie "Unstoppable" B & O Bridge in Bellaire OH and Benwood WV.

The Movie "Unstoppable" B & O Bridge in Bellaire OH and Benwood WV.

East Liverpool, Ohio

Parks to Visit

  • Beaver Creek State Park.2021 Echo Dell Road; East Liverpool OH 43920. 1-330-385-3091
  • Thompson Park. 2205 Thompson Park Road: East Liverpool OH 43920. 1-330-385-1891

Places of Interest

  • East Liverpool Firefighting Museum. St. Clair & Broadway; East Liverpool OH. 1-330-385-1117
  • Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame: Showcases individuals throughout the Ohio Valley including Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia for their outstanding contributions to their community.
  • The Museum of Ceramics ~ East Liverpool Ohio ~ Pottery Museum ~ Welcome: Museum showcasing 150 years of pottery from the former Pottery Capital of the World, East Liverpool, Ohio. The Museum of Ceramics houses an extensive collection of the wares produced in the city long known as America's Crockery City and other.

Automobile Tours Along the Ohio River

Traveling by car, take the Ohio River Scenic Byway along the river's edge.Start at US 50 at the Indiana border, follow US 52, State Route 7, State Route 124, and State Route 39 along the Ohio side of the river all the way to East Liverpool at the Pennsylvania border.

The Ohio River Scenic Byway also runs through Indiana and Illinois as a National Scenic Byway.

Accommodations along the river route include motels, B&Bs, camping sites, and some RV parks

Amtrak Routes Along the River

The Cardinal Route of Amtrak is the only train servicing Southern Ohio, extending from Chicago to Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Washington DC, New York City. This line is called the Cardinal, because that bird is the state bird of all six states through which its tracks run.

Along or near the Ohio River bordering Ohio, the Amtrak passenger trains stop here:

  • Connersville IN
  • Cincinnati
  • Maysville KY
  • South Portsmouth
  • Ashland KY
  • Huntington WV

Along the Ohio River Scenic Byway highway routes, travelers can find several places to rent a kayak or launch their own, along with trails for bike riding and hiking.

© 2014 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 18, 2015:

Thanks for reading and posting comments - I hope you like this area of Ohio. Spring is a lovely time to see it.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 12, 2014:

@teaches12345 - Thank you for reading and commenting and telling us of your Cincinnati experiences. Some friends of mine moved there a couple of years ago and they love it.

Dianna Mendez on June 11, 2014:

I lived in the midwest for almost twenty years and enjoyed many excursions along the Ohio River. Your highlights of Cincinnati bring back many fond memories. I enjoyed your post. Well done!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 26, 2014:

Hi DDE! - I especially like the scenic roads along the Ohio River and Lake Erie. It would be fantastic to take a month and drive across both scenic routes.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 26, 2014:

Awesome! Such a beautiful hub about a place I did not know much about until now. I have heard about Ohio but you have given me a better insight of the place.

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