Ohio River Scenic Byway
The Part In Ohio
Winding its way across Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, the Ohio River Scenic Byway
tells the story of the great river that has shaped the landscape, people, and economics of the region since its beginning 10,000 years ago, when glaciers diverted existing rivers. The Ohio River has provided sustenance and transport for countless people, from native prehistoric cultures to the children of the Information Age. Since pre-colonial days, to the opening of the West, to the great age of industry and the frenetic 21st Century, all things in the region find their roots in the Ohio River.
Along the Byway you can find prehistoric burial mounds, mostly from the Hopewell culture, indicating the river's importance in ancient patterns of migration. An estimated 11,000 American Indian earthworks -- embankments and other constructions made of earth -- also exist in the area. Find archaeologists at work at Aquixo, the site of an ancient Indian village, known today as Angel Mounds. You can visit the site's interpretive center near Evansville, Indiana, which presents artifacts of the people who lived here circa 1300 A.D.
As the wide river's waves wash over the years, we move forward to European settlement of the area. Fort Massac in Illinois presents an interesting timeline: Originally built in the mid-1500s, in time the fort site passed through the hands of the Spanish, French, British, and finally fell to the U.S. during the Revolutionary War. Troops were last stationed there during the Civil War, and in 1908 the site became Illinois' first state park. Today you can tour the fort and hike, fish, or camp at the state park. Stop by the fort's museum in Metropolis, Illinois, to experience the tale of the fort's history with actual artifacts, archive photographs, period costumes, and a short interpretive video presentation. Other parks along the route include Hoosier National Forest in Indiana, Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, and Barkcamp State Park in Ohio.
The Ohio River corridor was a hotbed of abolitionist and Underground Railroad activity prior to the Civil War as escaped slaves desperately tried to cross the river to free territory. At this time, the northern side of the river literally shone like a beacon of freedom as town residents signaled a place of safe harbor by burning lights in their windows. Members of the Underground Railroad protected fleeing slaves from bounty hunters and slave owners. One way to keep this light of goodwill and freedom shining is to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, in Cincinnati. Or visit the home of John Rankin in Ripley, Ohio. One of the most active leaders in the Underground Railroad, Rankin helped thousands of slaves reach freedom.
Learn about life along the Ohio River during the steamboat era at the Ohio River Museum in Marietta, Ohio. The museum features the golden age of the Ohio River steamboat. See the W.P. Snyder, America's only surviving steam powered, sternwheeler towboat. Alternately, in the 1849 Howard mansion, in Jefferson, Indiana, visit the Howard Steamboat Museum and enjoy a large collection of steamboat models, tools, artifacts, documents, photos, and paintings.
The Ohio River has always called people to its shores and waters. From prehistoric American Indian occupation to its diverse, modern residents, the route traverses 462 miles of historic, cultural, scenic, and naturally abundant landscapes. From Cairo, Illinois, to East Liverpool, Ohio, the area shares many similarities in its people and their pastimes, industries, and historical development. All the while, the Ohio River flows gracefully alongside the Byway, beckoning the visitor on, weaving a seamless, meaningful experience.
This Byway is a beautiful drive any season. With the forest - fall foliage and spring blooms are breath-taking; all the greenery; flowing creeks; rocky cliffs are beautiful with the fresh fallen snow.
The route is rarely crowded, except for segments near large cities during peak traffic times of day. The Byway sees its heaviest use from July through October.
Some areas along the Byway are prone to flooding during the fall and spring, causing occasional closures.
This is a motorcycle ride in the state of Ohio. This motorcycle route has 8 scenery characteristics and other road conditions to help you plan your road trip. This motorcycle map was created by OpenRoadRider in March. Click here to see other Motorcycle Roads by OpenRoadRider