Prior to the advent of railroads, Portsmouth was a hub for stagecoach transportation, maintaining regular schedules to various surrounding towns. In 1830, a trip on the Portsmouth and Columbus turnpike took 18 hours in good weather and cost about $5. A resident could also board the Ohio River ferry and catch a stagecoach from South Shore, Kentucky to most cities in the Bluegrass state. During the first half of the century, stagecoaches carried most of the mail and packages. An estimated 50 coach houses (stops) were scattered throughout the county. The group shown in the mural was en route to Glen Springs, Kentucky for an outing.
Ohio and Erie Canal
This mural shows a section of the Ohio and Erie Canal as it progressed northward from Portsmouth. Portsmouth was the southern terminus of the canal, which connected Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Construction of the canal began in the summer of 1825 and was completed in 1832. The canal covered a distance of 306 miles. Just to the right of the center portion of the mural is a covered bridge crossing the Scioto River and immediately adjacent to an aqueduct which conveyed the canal across the river. Alongside the main picture are sketches of the terminus at Portsmouth and a map showing the route of the canal from Portsmouth to Cleveland.
Hanging Rock Region
The discovery of a rich vein of iron ore extending from Jackson, Ohio south to the Ironton, Hanging Rock, and northern Kentucky areas gave birth to iron furnaces that dotted the countryside in the 1800's similiar to the one shown here. Iron ore, limestone, and charcoal were charged in top of the furnace and heated to smelt out the liquid iron which flowed from the bottom of the furnace into sand troughs to solidify into pig iron. The pig iron produced in these furnaces was transported to the Gaylord Rolling Mill (near the Ohio River) and the Scioto Rolling Mill (Third and Madison Streets) in Portsmouth, as well as to many plants in the east.
Early settlers took advantage of two important natural resources that were prevalent in Southern Ohio - clay and stone. This mural depicts a quarry (left), where slabs of stones were cut from the earth, shipped to stone mills, and custom cut for numerous projects, including homes, building facades, and fireplace mantels. To the right is a brick plant that produced paving bricks, made of clay, for lining iron and steel-making furnaces. Many of Portsmouth's early streets were also paved with these bricks; however most of those streets are now covered with asphalt paving. Franklin Blvd., Oakland Crescent, and portions of Washington Street still retain their original Portsmouth brick flavor.