Local city information for Marietta, OH
is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Washington County. The municipality is located in southeastern Ohio along the Ohio River. The population was 14,515 at the 2000 census. It is the second largest by population of three principal cities of and included in the Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna, West Virginia-Ohio (part) Metropolitan Statistical Area. Founded in 1788, Marietta is the oldest city in Ohio.
The founding of Marietta began when future U.S. president George Washington, who was working as a surveyor, began exploring large tracts of land west of his native Virginia in 1770. During the Revolutionary War, Washington told his friend, General Rufus Putnam, of the beauty he had seen in his travels through the Ohio Valley and of his ideas for settling the territory. After the war, the newly formed country found itself with little money but blessed with natural resources. As a result of this cash deficit, men who had served in the revolution were paid, not with cash, but with warrants for land in the Northwest Territory. There was one problem with these warrants, however. The Federal Government did not own the land it offered until the passage of the Ordinance of 1787 which ceded ownership of the Northwest Territory to the government. The Ohio Company of Associates planned to buy 1.5 million acres (6,100 km²) of land from Congress with provisions it had written in the ordinance which allowed veterans to use their warrants to purchase the land.
When this group of forty-eight men, led by General Rufus Putnam, arrived, they brought with them the first government sanctioned by the United States. Fort Harmar, a military outpost built three years prior, lay across the Muskingum River. The Native Americans were not pleased with the arrival of the settlers who immediately started construction of two forts, Campus Martius, which stood at the site of the museum which today bears its name, and Picketed Point, at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. At the same time, a community was also being built in the wilderness from plans made before the group's departure from Boston.
In 1785, the Treaty of Harmar was signed, bringing some resolve with several Native American nations in regards to trade, controversy and boundaries.
On April 7, 1788 a group of 48 men of the Ohio Company of Associates arrived at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers and established the first permanent American settlement in the Northwest Territory (older European settlements include Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, 1668, Detroit, 1701 and Vincennes, Indiana, 1732). It was named Marietta in honor of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, who had aided the young country in its battle for independence from Great Britain.
In 1788, George Washington said the following about Marietta:
"No colony in America was ever settled under such favorable auspices as that which has just commenced at the Muskingum...If I was a young man, just preparing to begin the world, or if advanced in life and had a family to make provision for, I know of no country where I should rather fix my habitation..."
The families of the settlers began arriving within a few months, as did Governor Arthur St. Clair who presided over this new territory, and, by the end of 1788, 137 people populated the area. The Treaty of Greenville was signed with the Native Americans in 1795, thus allowing the settlers to move from the safety of the fortresses and to spread out into the surrounding territory.
Marietta is home to the Great Mound or Conus, built by the Mound Builders. The mound was preserved by the original pioneers and is contained within the Mound Cemetery, which is also home to the largest number of Revolutionary War officers buried in one location.
Religion was important to these first settlers and services were held on a regular basis, but it wasn't until 1796 that a church was chartered. This first church was Congregational and its charter was unusually inclusive due to the varied religious backgrounds of its members. The congregation constructed the first church building in 1807.
Since many of the settlers had been officers during the revolution, and were highly educated, education was also a priority for these first settlers. That first winter saw the beginning of basic education for the children at Campus Martius. In 1797, Muskingum Academy was established; it became Marietta College in 1835.
Marietta's location on two major navigable rivers made it ripe for industry and commerce from the start. Boat building was one of the early industries with even ocean going vessels being constructed and sailed down river to the Mississippi and on to the Gulf of Mexico. Brick factories and sawmills supplied materials for homes and public buildings. An iron mill, along with several foundries provided rails for the railroad industry and Marietta Chair Factory supplied furniture.
In 1860 oil was first drilled in the Marietta region. A great deal of wealth was generated for investors during oil booms in 1875 and 1910. The results of these booms can be seen even today by touring the town and observing the many large homes built by men who made their fortunes during these periods. Among those Marietta citizens who made a fortune off the burgeoning oil industry were the Dawes brothers, who founded the Pure Oil Company. All four brothers became nationally prominent businessmen or politicians - Charles Gates Dawes, Rufus C. Dawes, Beman Gates Dawes and Henry May Dawes. Charles Dawes served as the 30th Vice President of the United States.
The Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad (M&C), now defunct, was a railroad of southern Ohio later absorbed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). The M&C started as The Belpre and Cincinnati Railroad (B&C) in 1845 to connect to the B&O at Parkersburg, WV/Belpre, Ohio. The Virginia Government would only allow the B&O to go to the Ohio River at Wheeling, WV. The planned route of the B&C was changed to Marietta, Ohio and the name also changed in 1851. Right of way extended up river from Marietta to Bellaire, Ohio for a connection to the B&O. The M&C was bankrupt by 1857 but continued west to reach Cincinnati, Ohio. The first through train from Cincinnati ran on April 9, 1857.
The railroad never went up-river from Marietta and the right of way south of Bellaire was later purchased by roads controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). To continue to the east on the B&O, one had to take a steamboat down river to Parkersburg. With help from the B&O and the Baltimore City Council, the Union Railroad connected Marietta to Belpre in 1860. It also was later absorbed by the B&O. This section of track is still in operation (2008) with unit coal trains providing most of the traffic. At one time in the 20th century, Marietta saw 24 passenger trains a day, most of which were on the PRR tracks. One of the main driving forces in the M&C was William P. Cutler. He also was a backer of the Union Railroad and the MCC among other local railroads. Cutler served as General Manager and as President of the M&C for many years.
In 1880, the first Putnam Street Bridge was opened to connect Marietta to Fort Harmar, providing the first free crossing of the Muskingum.
As transportation advanced, Marietta was passed by. The B & O Railroad went through Parkersburg, West Virginia, the National Road went through Zanesville leaving Marietta off the main travel routes until 1967 with the opening of I-77.
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