Steubenville and Jefferson County are ready to welcome you to explore history as you take a break from staying safe at home and begin your summer adventures. For those who don’t want to stray too far, a visit to Steubenville, one of the oldest cities in Ohio, offers the opportunity to step back in time and experience life in early America.
Begin at Historic Fort Steuben, a completely reconstructed 18th-century military fort on its original site overlooking the Ohio River. The eight wooden buildings, guardhouse, and palisade – laid out according to maps and letters preserved at the Clemens Library at the University of Michigan – present a glimpse of the skills, creativity, and hardships of the 150 men who inhabited the Fort in 1786-1787. Self-guided tours allow visitors to explore at their own pace, or visitors can arrange in advance to have a knowledgeable tour guide present the stories of the soldiers and surveyors for whom the Fort was a temporary home. An active archaeological dig is a reminder that the area had been occupied by Native American people over 500 years ago and still unearths artifacts from the past two centuries. The Fort Steuben Visitor Center houses an Exhibit Hall with seasonal displays and programs as well as a Museum Shop with books, toys, maps, and souvenirs. Visitors can find travel and tourism information there as well. As with other historic and tourism sites, the Fort and Visitor Center follow strict sanitary protocols to guarantee a safe and pleasant visit.
Adjacent to the Fort is the original log structure, the First Federal Land Office of the Northwest Territory, established in 1800. This historic building has a tale of its own to tell as it was hidden and then uncovered and then moved at least five times! It is now open and displayed as a 19th century home office where the registrar sold and documented deeds to the new land in Ohio open to settlement.
Located on the beautiful Ohio River, the city of Steubenville quickly grew around the site of the original fort and became an industrial giant in the 20th century. The history of the city and its citizens are portrayed in larger-than-life murals displayed on buildings throughout the downtown and central shopping districts. From the earliest days of horse-pulled fire engines to the celebration of modern heroes such as the Tuskegee Airmen, the City of Murals allows viewers to enjoy art while easily social-distancing. Brochures and information on the murals can be obtained at the Fort Steuben Visitor Center.
Historic North Fourth Street showcases the stately homes of those early industrialists as well as unique shops and eateries that can be found on a stroll along the avenue. The downtown area is home to more than a dozen historic churches that boast rich stained-glass windows and stunning architecture.
More history can be found driving through Jefferson County and visiting Historic Mount Pleasant, a major hub for the Underground Railroad and home of important abolitionists of the 19th century. The Historical Society of Mount Pleasant owns six historic buildings, each one a museum in itself. Additionally, the Ohio Yearly Meeting House – an amazing Quaker structure – is included in their tours. At this time, tours and buildings are open by appointment only, however, there is a complimentary walking tour available on Trover.com.
After taking a walk through history, try a walk on one of the trails in Jefferson County. Check out the Birding Trail at Friendship Park or the Beatty Park Trail in Steubenville.
As Ohio recovers from Covid19, there will be many other sites and events where travelers can be educated, refreshed, and entertained all within a few hours’ drive. Check the website www.visitsteubenville.com or the Facebook page to find up-to-date information. In the meantime, the folks here in Jefferson County wish you to stay safe and enjoy the summer!