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Muskingum River State Park

543 E Riverside Drive
McConnelsville, OH 43756

740-453-4377

This area has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is recognized as the Muskingum River Navigation Historic District. In its day, the system of locks and dams that extends 112 miles through southeastern Ohio, helped open the state and the entire Midwest to trade and development.

History:

The Muskingum River, because of its size and location, has played an important role in Ohio's history. Its watershed drains 8,036 square miles, an area equal to 1/5 of the entire state. It remains the longest continually navigable river traversing Ohio, due to the series of locks and dams that date back to 1841.

Missionaries settled along the headwaters of this picturesque river in 1761. The first permanent settlement in Ohio was established in 1788 at Marietta. One of the city's founders, General Rufus Putnam, recognized the economic potential of the Muskingum River for transporting raw materials to eastern markets and brought in New England shipbuilders. In 1824, steam-powered paddle wheelers joined the flatboat and keelboat traders, generating public support for river navigation.

West Point graduate Major Samuel Curtis designed a system of 10 dams and 11 locks to connect the Muskingum River to the Ohio and Erie Canal at Dresden. Opened in 1841, the system provided navigable waterways from Marietta to Lake Erie.

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