The Ohio River

Bridge between East Liverpool, Ohio and Chester, West Virginia
Bridge between East Liverpool, Ohio and Chester, West Virginia | Source

The Ohio River


I have lived in Ohio my entire life. Yet I was 33 years old before I actually saw the Ohio River. I’d learned about the river in school and I’d seen pictures all my life but I’d never actually been close enough to touch it. When I was a child and my family would take trips to North Carolina or Florida we would drive at night and I would sleep the entire ride. And as an adult my route always took me far enough north into Pennsylvania that I missed crossing the river on my way to the east coast. Last weekend I made a trip into West Virginia and got my first glimpse of the Ohio River. I was amazed by the bridge, the barges on the water, and the hundreds of homes right at the water’s edge, crammed together like a mob waiting for shop doors to open on Black Friday. And don’t get me started on the industrial pipes, shoots, and buildings along the river. I was so amazed that I decided to write an article about the different barges and mines I saw on the river. While looking for information and photographs I realized I don't really remember anything I learned back in school! So follow along while I share what I found and one day soon I will add an article on the barges.


The Ohio River
The Ohio River | Source

Geography of the Ohio River

The Ohio River starts at the confluence of the Alleghany and the Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and ends in Cairo, Illinois where it flows into the Mississippi River. The Ohio River touches or flows through six states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. In addition to bordering or flowing through those states listed, waters from parts of New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama drain into tributaries that empty into the Ohio River. There are 20 dams on the 981 mile Ohio River that are managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Over 25 million people live in the Ohio River Basin and the Ohio River is the source of drinking water for more than 3 million people . There are approximately 164 species of fish and approximately 50 species of mussels in the river - although several species of fish have a consumption advisory due to pollutants and 5 of the 50 species of mussels are in danger of extinction.


Ohio River
Ohio River | Source

History of the Ohio River


It is said that Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle was the first European to see the Ohio River in 1669. He descended the river until it was obstructed by a waterfall (most likely the Falls at Louisville). In the 1750’s the river’s strategic importance in the struggle between the French and the English for possession of the interior of the continent was fully recognized. The English finally won control of the territory along the river banks in 1763 and the area was opened to settlement. Although the river is not developed for hydropower it maintains a depth of 9 feet so barges can carry coal, oil, steel, and manufactured articles.

While performing research to learn more about this wonderful river I came across several web sites boasting the river’s recreational attributes. Any recreational activity that brings a person into contact with the water of the Ohio River is called ‘contact recreation’. Different contract recreation possibilities are fishing, boating, water skiing, and paddling. The Ohio River has no official designated swimming areas; however swimming is also a possible contact recreation. During warm months the river can be safely enjoyed. There are certain conditions when contact recreation is discouraged though. Contact recreation on the Ohio River is best avoided for at least 72 hours after it rains. This is because nonpoint pollution is most prevalent during and after rainfall, particularly E. coli bacteria. Rainfall also increases the risk of turbulent waters and submerged debris that could lead to accidents or injuries. The best time to enjoy the river is when the water levels are low, the flow is slow, and the weather has been dry

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Ohio River
Ohio River | Source

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Comments 15 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

A very interesting story about the Ohio River! Great idea Ardie! I like your unique photos and the details of your article. Well done. Keep on hubbin'!!:)


Haunty profile image

Haunty 4 years ago from Hungary

What a fascinating well-researched hub! I wish I could see the Ohio River one day. I love the pictures you took. Thanks, Ardie! :D


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Thanks Sunshine! I know this isnt exactly my normal humor hub but wow - Im plum outta ideas here! Thanks for coming in :)

Hi Haunty, If you're ever in the states I would love to take you to see the Ohio River. I want to go paddling!! Thanks for reading :)


LoriSoard profile image

LoriSoard 4 years ago from Henryville, Indiana

Great info. I live near Louisville, so pass over the Ohio often as I leave Indiana and head into Kentucky. I found this so interesting. Going to share with some others. Nice job.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Hello Lori :) Thanks for the share! Have you seen the Falls of Louisville? I'm jealous because now I want to know everything about the river...it's become an obsession. You could write about the Falls and we could link!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho

I loved reading this Hub because it took me back to my college days. The limnology class I took had a lab that lasted most of the day on Saturdays. I've spent many hours on the Ohio River electro-fishing. Introducing a slight current into the water disturbs the fish's equilibrium, swim bladder, and they float to the surface. It's the most efficient form of fishing I've ever done. We'd put them in an aerated tank on the boat and then weigh and measure them and throw them back. There are an abundance of carp which in my opinion are nasty because they can live anywhere. The river near Cincinnati contained several fish that were deformed or had tumors or lesions. It's always disturbed me that the river is used for drinking water. ORSANCO, The Ohio River Sanitation Comission, is a great organization that provides information about the river on their website. Thank you for taking me back home Ardie : ) Voted up!


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

Your somewhat like me, growing up I had barely left my home town until about 19 and that's when I saw the Thames River for the first time, and of course I never have looked back.


poshcoffeeco profile image

poshcoffeeco 4 years ago from Cambridgeshire

Thanks for this, you just reminded me about an idea I had forgotten about for a hub...nice one!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Jennifer! Your class lab sounds very interesting. With all my reading I learned about the different issues with the fish and how each type of fish can only be eaten in small amounts due to pollution. I never realized the Ohio River could get so nasty with all the run-off from living areas and industrial production. I even read that swimming is discouraged because the water isn’t exactly the cleanest. Thanks for adding all your information to the comments for visitors to read and thanks for the votes!! :)

Hi writer20, good for you hitting the ground running! I am a home-body, I go out and do things but its always close to home. Im one of those people who likes familiar surroundings and I get a little anxious if Im out of my comfort zone for too long.

Hiya Posh! I cant wait to see your idea if it has to do with water :)


wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 4 years ago from Central United States

As a child I remember the river my grandmother lived about a block from. At that time we ate fish caught there daily. Our baths were taken in river water also daily. The water we drank came from the underground part of the same river. The well was 14 ft deep. I now live about six blocks from the same river. I won't eat fish caught there and wouldn't dream of letting the children who live here bathing in it. No body drinks from wells close to the river now either.

Like so many rivers in the world once you get too many people living close they become polluted.

Due to the wanderlust which is part of me I have seen the Ohio river. The areas where I saw it were pretty much over populated compared to other rivers I have seen. I really can understand the pollution problems there.

Like with so many things in life, we see the beauty in the pictures but it's what is hidden that we need to be wary of.

Great hub idea, well put together and an enjoyable read.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Thank you wheelinallover :) I really appreciate you adding to this article since you have been there and seen it. It's a shame and makes me a little depressed that the river has been damaged to the point that people wouldn't even bathe in it! I don't know about the other areas but the one that I passed through was PACKED with houses - one virtually on top of the other. I was amazed at how close the houses were to one another and to the river, and the area didn't look like it was well maintained.

It'd be wonderful if one day soon the river was restored back to it's state of long ago. Take care friend.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

I'm embarrassed to say how much I actually learned from your article even though I've lived in Ohio my entire life. Of course that has to do with me living in the total opposite direction :) I know a lot more about the Great Lakes . . . great informative hub Ardie!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Well Sharyn, Im glad to hear that because now I don't feel so lame for not knowing about the Ohio River before writing this hub! I DO know more about the Great Lakes because we go north every summer to visit Put-in-Bay and Marblehead, love the lighthouses! Thanks for reading :)


iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

I have lived in Rochester for most of my life and I have not seen everything yet! I like your hub! It takes me to somewhere new! Voted up!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Thanks Audra :) I couldnt believe it when I realized I'd never seen the Ohio River. It was my duh moment!!

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