Portsmouth, Ohio – October 2020 – Floodwall Murals

Portsmouth easily has one of the best collection of murals in the country. They have taken a massive, ugly concrete flood wall and created almost 1/2 mile of murals celebrating the towns history.

The drone view give an idea of how large they are – this is just a small portion.

The theme of the walls was 2000 years of history in 2000 feet of flood walls. They were created by a team lead by Robert Dafford, a famed mural painter.

Most sections of the wall are 40′ wide x 20′ high. Some, such as the view of Portsmouth in 1903, take up multiple sections.

Some aren’t even on the flood wall, including this mural on the side of the local Kroger Grocery store.

The floodwall not only runs along the river but in places goes inland. One of the inland sections celebrates sports, including the ‘Tour of the Scioto River Valley’, an annual bicycling event that goes the 100 miles from Columbus to Portsmouth, then back.

Another section of the inland wall includes a tribute to the local labor unions.

Another includes Portsmouth’s rich baseball history.

The original U.S Grant bridge is featured on this panel.

For a short time there was an amusement park located in Portsmouth, but it was badly damaged in the 1913 flood.

The shoe industry was one of the major employers in Portsmouth.

Streetcars provided transportation from the late 1800s until 1939.

Government Square was the center of the city in the early 1900s.

The murals are done with fantastic depth.

One of the original NFL teams, the Portsmouth Spartans.

Portsmouth has had a few devastating floods, including 1937.

Chillicothe Street has always been the main commercial street in town.

Industry in Portsmouth.

A close up of the detail of the right panel for industry.

A 3 panel education mural shows various periods.

Situated in southernmost Ohio, the railroads have always been an important part of Portsmouth’s industry.

The Portsmouth Motorcycle Club is the oldest in the world, having been founded in 1893. Obviously it had to be founded as a bicycle club first since the first motorcycle was not invented until 1898.

It was known as the Portsmouth Cycling Club from 1893 until 1913.

This western view would be the actual view if the flood wall was not in the way.

Much like the European settlers later, the Native Americans utilized trails that went through the area. One originated on Lake Erie near Sandusky and went south along the Scioto River to Portsmouth.

The original village was known as Alexandria, but was abandoned due to frequent flooding.

The first European settlers arrived in larger numbers in the early 1800s.

The completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal was a boom to the area.

Built in 1901 this rail station served both Norfolk and Western as well as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroads. It was used until 1931 when an art deco station was completed.

A close up of the Chillicothe Street mural.

The Riverfront in 1903.

The Portsmouth Murals are one of the most impressive art installations in Ohio – well worth a trip.

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