“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.”
George Washington, June of 1788
Friends of the Museums Mission
The Friends of the Museums operate the Campus Martius Museum & Ohio River Museum on behalf of the Ohio History Connection.
The mission of the Friends of the Museums, Inc. is to promote and preserve the history of our region, the Northwest Territory and of our inland waterways.
CAMPUS MARTIUS MUSEUM: The Museum of the NW Territory
The city of Marietta, located at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, is the first permanent organized settlement in the Northwest Territory. After much deliberation, its name was chosen in honor of Marie Antoinette for France’s support of the colonies during the Revolutionary War. Campus Martius Museum (erected in 1928) is located at the corner of Washington and Second Streets in Marietta, Ohio.
Campus Martius Museum was built on the site of the original stockade, built by the Ohio Company between 1788 and 1791. The name, Campus Martius, chosen by the Ohio Company, comes from Latin for Field of Mars, the military camp where the legions of ancient Rome once trained. Known by the early settlers as the stockade or Campus Martius, the original fortification was built to house and protect the members of the Ohio Company during the Ohio Indian Wars of 1790 to 1794. By 1795, after the signing of the Treaty of Greeneville, the stockade was no longer necessary. Buildings were then dismantled, the wood planks used in the construction of some of the homes located throughout Marietta.
Of horizontal plank construction, the Rufus Putnam House, part of the original stockade, is enclosed inside the museum. Rufus Putnam and his wife, Persis, remained in this house on its current site until their deaths. The house was restored by the Ohio Historical Society (currently the Ohio History Connection) between 1966 and 1972. The museum is also the present site of the Ohio Company Land Office, which was moved there in 1953 to insure its future preservation. In this office, land deeds were allotted for the original Ohio Company Purchase. Here, Rufus Putnam, the first surveyor- general of the United States, made some of the earliest maps of the Northwest Territory.
OHIO RIVER MUSEUM
After visiting Campus Martius Museum, take a leisurely stroll to the Ohio River Museum, located a short walk from Campus Martius. The Ohio River Museum opened at its current location in 1972. This museum features exhibits recounting the history of the Ohio River and the many different types of boats that have been transporting people and cargo for hundreds of years. The Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen have provided many of the steamboat artifacts that are featured in the museum. Their pride in sharing the history of our inland waterways and with the public and their continued support of the museum is greatly appreciated.
Three buildings of exhibits focus on the history of the Ohio River and its importance relating to the expansion of our country. The Golden Age of the steamboat recalls the romance and luxury as many people traveled the river in style. The river’s natural history explores the stories of the beauty and the ugliness that the inland rivers sometimes tell.
The pride of the museum is the W.P. Snyder, Jr., the last of the steam-powered, stern wheeled towboats in the United States and a National Historic Landmark. Docked on the Muskingum River and open for guided tours since 1955, the Snyder takes visitors back to a different era of work boats on the river. A “pool type” towboat, the Snyder boasts a steel hull AND hog chains. Steering levers were used on the Snyder but the pilot wheel is still present.
Someone once said, “This egg crate was made with properly fitted joints, nailed together, and it has taken everything man and the river could dish out” for almost 80 years. This “egg crate” is approaching its 100th birthday in 2018 and we are looking forward to helping it celebrate!
Outside is the Tell City Pilot House, a flat boat reproduction, a restored shanty boat, and a series of poles showing the heights of some on the worst floods in recorded history to hit this area. If you think you know the rivers, come visit us at the Ohio River Museum. There is probably something there that will surprise you.
Friends of the Museums Staff
Le Ann Hendershot, Museum Administrator
Christina Tilton, Director of Marketing & Office Management
Glenna Hoff, Director of Education & Programs
Bill Reynolds, Historian/Exhibits Specialist
Tom Rea, Facilities Manager
Jerry Wagner, Customer Service Representative
Babette Bole, Customer Service Representative
Michael Smith, Customer Service Representative
Friends of the Museums Board of Trustees
Charlotte Keim, Chair
Mark Kerenyi, 1st Vice Chair
Jean Yost, 2nd Vice Chair,
Greg Gentry, Treasurer
Jenny Powers, Trustee
Cheryl Cook, Trustee
Mary Pfeifer, Trustee
David Dernberger, Trustee
Larry Clayman, Trustee
Lew Camp, Trustee