Tag Archives: northwest territory

Notes From The Road: Episode 2- Down the Ohio and into Kentucky  – February 8, 2023

Day 3 dawned bright and sunny, and while it started off on the cold side, the forecast called for warmer temps as the day wore on. We were up early, and had a good breakfast at the hotel before saddling up to cruise along the Ohio River.

After leaving the hotel and gassing up the chariot, we headed towards Wheeling, WV, where we’d make the crossing into Ohio. The plan was to follow the Ohio River Scenic Byway for as long as it held our interest. But first I wanted to check out the suspension bridge at Wheeling. It was the  first suspension bridge to span a major river in the western US, and the largest one in the world for a while- until the middle of the 19th Century. We couldn’t get too close to the bridge, as it’s being restored.

After getting as close to the bridge as we could, we rolled through downtown Wheeling, which also is experiencing significant restoration and reconstruction. Nice to see these old frontier towns getting facelifts- by and large they all need it.

Once across the Ohio we settled in to follow Ohio Route 7 along the river. The day was now clear and sunny, with the temps climbing upwards. Eventually they’d cross the 50°F mark that day, which was an incredible swing from a day earlier. 

We stopped here and there along the Byway to look at the river,

and watch the tugs push the barges up and down the waterway. From what we could see, the barges going upstream were full of coal, while the ones heading south seemed to be laden with scrap metal. Bound for New Orleans, no doubt, and then across the oceans.

Where does all of this scrap metal go- China? Last century we used to ship all of our scrap to Japan, and that worked out really, really well, didn’t it?

After a great drive we came upon the outskirts of Marietta, Ohio. Marietta was the centerpiece of the settling of the Northwest Territory after the Revolutionary War, and the town is full of history.

This area was America’s first go at western expansion, and was the frontier after we gained independence. There are innumerable historical texts written about the settling of the Territory, and if you have an interest in learning more about it, I’d highly recommend The Pioneers by David McCullough. He made a living translating historical events into highly readable and enjoyable books. The Pioneers was one of his best, in  my opinion.

The first thing we needed to do was to find a car wash and get the winter off our ride. The Jeep was caked in that calcium mess used on the roads now, and needed a bath. We found a place as we entered the town, and once washed, the Jeep was again silver, and not dirty white.

After driving around through the historic district of the town, Wife and I decided to visit the Campus Martius Museum. Campus Martius was the initial settlement in the territory, and from it the city of Marietta was born.

The museum told much of that story, and then continued through  and into the 20th Century. There are many, many artifacts and exhibits there from days gone by, including Rufus Porter’s entire house! Wife was very impressed with the original examples of embroidery, quilting and weaving that we saw displayed.

After touring the museum, we headed over to the Harmar Tavern on the recommendation of one of the museum staff. It was the perfect place for a quick lunch before continuing along the Ohio River Scenic Byway. Good food and good service!

We continued downriver. There are many large, coal-fired power plants along the Ohio, and despite what the current administration and the media wants you to think, they are not dirty, and they are not spewing black smoke into the sky.

The only thing I saw coming out of the stacks of the plants we went by was steam. I stopped and took a couple of photos of one plant on the Ohio side of the river. I posted them online, calling them Tesla charging stations. And yes, I caught some heat for that. That doesn’t change the fact that the statement is quite true.

Time started to slip away from us as the afternoon wore on, so around 4PM we abandoned the Byway and headed onto the dreaded interstate to complete the day’s journey into Kentucky. We had reservations at a hotel in Nicholasville, outside of Lexington. We arrived there not long after dark. After checking in, we went for dinner a few miles away at the Copper River Grill. The food was edible, though the overall experience was forgettable. I dislike chain eateries, especially ones that promote themselves as upscale when in fact they are the McDonalds of sit-down full-service restaurants. We are going to redouble our efforts to avoid these types of places going forward.

That’ll do it for this post, folks. Episode 3 will cover our Kentucky wanderings, and arrival in Missouri. Thanks for stopping by!