Ohio River

Ohio River

Overview
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi (Ohio at Cairo
Cairo, Illinois
Cairo is the southernmost city in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the county seat of Alexander County. Cairo is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The rivers converge at Fort Defiance State Park, an American Civil War fort that was commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant...

: 281,500 cu ft/s (7,960 m3/s); Mississippi at Thebes
Thebes, Illinois
Thebes is a village in Alexander County, Illinois, United States. The population was 478 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Cape Girardeau–Jackson, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Thebes is located at ....

: 208,200 cu ft/s (5,897 m3/s)) and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River
Allegheny River
The Allegheny River is a principal tributary of the Ohio River; it is located in the Eastern United States. The Allegheny River joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River at the "Point" of Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

 further upstream. It is approximately 981 miles (1,578.8 km) long and is located in the Eastern United States
Eastern United States
The Eastern United States, the American East, or simply the East is traditionally defined as the states east of the Mississippi River. The first two tiers of states west of the Mississippi have traditionally been considered part of the West, but can be included in the East today; usually in...

.

The river had great significance in the history of the Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

, as numerous civilizations formed along its valley.
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Encyclopedia
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi (Ohio at Cairo
Cairo, Illinois
Cairo is the southernmost city in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the county seat of Alexander County. Cairo is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The rivers converge at Fort Defiance State Park, an American Civil War fort that was commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant...

: 281,500 cu ft/s (7,960 m3/s); Mississippi at Thebes
Thebes, Illinois
Thebes is a village in Alexander County, Illinois, United States. The population was 478 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Cape Girardeau–Jackson, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Thebes is located at ....

: 208,200 cu ft/s (5,897 m3/s)) and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River
Allegheny River
The Allegheny River is a principal tributary of the Ohio River; it is located in the Eastern United States. The Allegheny River joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River at the "Point" of Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

 further upstream. It is approximately 981 miles (1,578.8 km) long and is located in the Eastern United States
Eastern United States
The Eastern United States, the American East, or simply the East is traditionally defined as the states east of the Mississippi River. The first two tiers of states west of the Mississippi have traditionally been considered part of the West, but can be included in the East today; usually in...

.

The river had great significance in the history of the Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

, as numerous civilizations formed along its valley. In the five centuries prior to European contact, the Mississippian culture
Mississippian culture
The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from approximately 800 CE to 1500 CE, varying regionally....

 built numerous regional chiefdom
Chiefdom
A chiefdom is a political economy that organizes regional populations through a hierarchy of the chief.In anthropological theory, one model of human social development rooted in ideas of cultural evolution describes a chiefdom as a form of social organization more complex than a tribe or a band...

s and major earthwork mounds
Earthworks (archaeology)
In archaeology, earthwork is a general term to describe artificial changes in land level. Earthworks are often known colloquially as 'lumps and bumps'. Earthworks can themselves be archaeological features or they can show features beneath the surface...

 in the Ohio Valley, such as Angel Mounds
Angel Mounds
Angel Mounds State Historic Site is located on the Ohio River in Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties eight miles southeast of Evansville and just upriver of the confluence of the Green and Ohio rivers. Administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Indiana State Museums...

 near Evansville, Indiana
Evansville, Indiana
Evansville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Indiana and the largest city in Southern Indiana. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 117,429. It is the county seat of Vanderburgh County and the regional hub for both Southwestern Indiana and the...

, as well as in the Mississippi Valley and the Southeast. For thousands of years, Native Americans, like the European explorers and settlers who followed them, used the river as a major transportation and trading route. Its waters connected communities. The Osage
Osage Nation
The Osage Nation is a Native American Siouan-language tribe in the United States that originated in the Ohio River valley in present-day Kentucky. After years of war with invading Iroquois, the Osage migrated west of the Mississippi River to their historic lands in present-day Arkansas, Missouri,...

, Omaha
Omaha
Omaha may refer to:*Omaha , a Native American tribe that currently resides in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Nebraska-Places:United States* Omaha, Nebraska* Omaha, Arkansas* Omaha, Georgia* Omaha, Illinois* Omaha, Texas...

, Ponca
Ponca
The Ponca are a Native American people of the Dhegihan branch of the Siouan-language group. There are two federally recognized Ponca tribes: the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma...

 and Kaw
Kaw (tribe)
The Kaw Nation are an American Indian people of the central Midwestern United States. The tribe known as Kaw have also been known as the "People of the South wind", "People of water", Kansa, Kaza, Kosa, and Kasa. Their tribal language is Kansa, classified as a Siouan language.The toponym "Kansas"...

 lived in the Ohio Valley, but under pressure from the Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 to the northeast, migrated west of the Mississippi River to Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, and Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

 in the 1600s.

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, or Robert de LaSalle was a French explorer. He explored the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico...

 led an expedition to the Ohio River in 1669. His French party were the first Europeans to see the river. After European-American settlement, the river served at times as a border between present-day Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 and Indian Territories. It was a primary transportation route for pioneers during the westward expansion of the early U.S. The Ohio flows through or along the border of six states
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

, and its drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 encompasses 14 states. Through its largest tributary, the Tennessee River
Tennessee River
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names...

, the basin includes many of the states of the southeastern U.S.

During the 19th century, the river was the southern boundary of the Northwest Territory
Northwest Territory
The Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Northwest Territory, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 13, 1787, until March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio...

. It is sometimes considered as the western extension of the Mason–Dixon Line that divided Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 from Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, and thus part of the border between free and slave territory, and between the Northern
Northern United States
Northern United States, also sometimes the North, may refer to:* A particular grouping of states or regions of the United States of America. The United States Census Bureau divides some of the northernmost United States into the Midwest Region and the Northeast Region...

 and Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 or Upper South. Where the river was narrow, it was the way to freedom for thousands of slaves escaping to the North, many helped by free blacks and whites of the Underground Railroad
Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was an informal network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists,...

 resistance movement
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

.

The Ohio River is a climatic transition area, as its water runs along the periphery of the humid subtropical and humid continental climate areas. It is inhabited by fauna and flora of both climates. In winter it regularly freezes over at Pittsburgh but rarely so as it travels further south toward Cincinnati and Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

. At Paducah, Kentucky
Paducah, Kentucky
Paducah is the largest city in Kentucky's Jackson Purchase Region and the county seat of McCracken County, Kentucky, United States. It is located at the confluence of the Tennessee River and the Ohio River, halfway between the metropolitan areas of St. Louis, Missouri, to the west and Nashville,...

 in the south, near the Ohio’s confluence with the Mississippi, it is ice-free year round. Paducah was founded there because it is the northernmost ice-free reach of the Ohio. In his Notes on the State of Virginia
Notes on the State of Virginia
Notes on the State of Virginia was a book written by Thomas Jefferson. He completed the first edition in 1781, and updated and enlarged the book in 1782 and 1783...

 published in 1781–82, Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 stated: "The Ohio is the most beautiful river on earth. Its current gentle, waters clear, and bosom smooth and unbroken by rocks and rapids, a single instance only excepted."

Geography and hydrography


The Ohio River is formed by the confluence of the Allegheny
Allegheny River
The Allegheny River is a principal tributary of the Ohio River; it is located in the Eastern United States. The Allegheny River joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River at the "Point" of Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

 and Monongahela
Monongahela River
The Monongahela River is a river on the Allegheny Plateau in north-central West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania in the United States...

 rivers at Point State Park
Point State Park
Point State Park is a Pennsylvania state park on in Downtown Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, forming the Ohio River....

 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. From there, it flows northwest through Allegheny
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Allegheny County is a county in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,223,348; making it the second most populous county in Pennsylvania, following Philadelphia County. The county seat is Pittsburgh...

 and Beaver
Beaver County, Pennsylvania
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 181,412 people, 72,576 households, and 50,512 families residing in the county. The population density was 418 people per square mile . There were 77,765 housing units at an average density of 179 per square mile...

 counties, before making an abrupt turn to the south-southwest at the West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

-Ohio-Pennsylvania triple-state line (near East Liverpool, Ohio
East Liverpool, Ohio
As of the census of 2000, there were 13,089 people, 5,261 households, and 3,424 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,010.3 people per square mile . There were 5,743 housing units at an average density of 1,320.8 per square mile...

; Chester, West Virginia
Chester, West Virginia
Chester is a city in Hancock County, West Virginia, United States, along the Ohio River. It is part of the Weirton–Steubenville, WV-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,592 at the 2000 census. Chester was established in 1896, but not incorporated until 1907. The city is...

; and Midland, Pennsylvania
Midland, Pennsylvania
Midland is a borough located along the Ohio River in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of the 2000 census, the borough population was 3,137.-Geography:Midland is located at ....

). From there, it forms the border between West Virginia and Ohio, upstream of Wheeling, West Virginia
Wheeling, West Virginia
Wheeling is a city in Ohio and Marshall counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia; it is the county seat of Ohio County. Wheeling is the principal city of the Wheeling Metropolitan Statistical Area...

.

The river then follows a roughly southwest and then west-northwest course until Cincinnati, before bending to a west-southwest course for most of its length. Its course forms the northern borders of West Virginia and Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

; and the southern borders of Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 and Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, until it joins the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 near the city of Cairo, Illinois
Cairo, Illinois
Cairo is the southernmost city in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the county seat of Alexander County. Cairo is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The rivers converge at Fort Defiance State Park, an American Civil War fort that was commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant...

.

Major tributaries of the river, indicated by the location of the mouths, include:
  • Allegheny River
    Allegheny River
    The Allegheny River is a principal tributary of the Ohio River; it is located in the Eastern United States. The Allegheny River joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River at the "Point" of Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

     – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Monongahela River
    Monongahela River
    The Monongahela River is a river on the Allegheny Plateau in north-central West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania in the United States...

     – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Chartiers Creek
    Chartiers Creek
    Chartiers Creek is a tributary of the Ohio River in Western Pennsylvania in the United States. The creek was named after Pierre Chartiers, a trapper of French and Native American parentage who established a trading post at the mouth of the creek in 1743....

     – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Beaver River
    Beaver River (Pennsylvania)
    The Beaver River is a tributary of the Ohio River in Western Pennsylvania in the United States with a length of approximately 21 mi . It flows through a historically important coal-producing region north of Pittsburgh...

     – Rochester, Pennsylvania
    Rochester, Pennsylvania
    Rochester is a borough in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States. Located northwest of Pittsburgh, it is part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. The population was 4,014 at the 2000 census....

  • Wheeling Creek
    Wheeling Creek (West Virginia)
    Wheeling Creek is a tributary of the Ohio River, 25 miles long, in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia in the United States, with a watershed extending into southwestern Pennsylvania. Via the Ohio River, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River, draining an area of...

     – Wheeling, West Virginia
    Wheeling, West Virginia
    Wheeling is a city in Ohio and Marshall counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia; it is the county seat of Ohio County. Wheeling is the principal city of the Wheeling Metropolitan Statistical Area...

  • Little Muskingum River
    Little Muskingum River
    The Little Muskingum River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 65 mi long, in southeast Ohio in the United States.It rises in the hill country of Monroe County, approximately 5 mi northwest of the Ohio River and 8 mi southeast of Woodsfield...

     – Ohio
  • Duck Creek
    Duck Creek (Ohio)
    Duck Creek is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 30 mi long, in southeastern Ohio in the United States. Via the Ohio River, it is part of the Mississippi River watershed...

     – Ohio
  • Muskingum River
    Muskingum River
    The Muskingum River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 111 miles long, in southeastern Ohio in the United States. An important commercial route in the 19th century, it flows generally southward through the eastern hill country of Ohio...

     – Marietta, Ohio
    Marietta, Ohio
    Marietta is a city in and the county seat of Washington County, Ohio, United States. During 1788, pioneers to the Ohio Country established Marietta as the first permanent American settlement of the new United States in the Northwest Territory. Marietta is located in southeastern Ohio at the mouth...

  • Little Kanawha River
    Little Kanawha River
    The Little Kanawha River is a tributary of the Ohio River, 169 mi long, in western West Virginia in the United States. Via the Ohio, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River, draining an area of 2,320 mi² on the unglaciated portion of the Allegheny Plateau...

     – Parkersburg, West Virginia
    Parkersburg, West Virginia
    As of the census of 2000, there were 33,099 people, 14,467 households, and 8,767 families residing in the city. In 2006 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Parkersburg's population had decreased 4.4% to 31,755. The population density was 2,800.5 people per square mile . There were 16,100 housing...

  • Hocking River
    Hocking River
    The Hocking River is a tributary of the Ohio River in southeastern Ohio in the United States.The Hocking flows mostly on the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau, but its headwaters are in a glaciated region...

     – Hockingport, Ohio
    Hockingport, Ohio
    Hockingport is a census-designated place in southeastern Troy Township, Athens County, Ohio, United States. Although it is unincorporated, it has a post office, with the ZIP code of 45739. It is located at the intersection of State Routes 124 and 144....

  • Kanawha River
    Kanawha River
    The Kanawha River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 97 mi long, in the U.S. state of West Virginia. The largest inland waterway in West Virginia, it has formed a significant industrial region of the state since the middle of the 19th century.It is formed at the town of Gauley...

     – Point Pleasant, West Virginia
    Point Pleasant, West Virginia
    Point Pleasant is a city in Mason County, West Virginia, United States, at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers. The population was 4,637 at the 2000 census...

  • Guyandotte River
    Guyandotte River
    The Guyandotte River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 166 mi long, in southwestern West Virginia in the United States. It was named after the French term for the Wendat Native Americans...

     – Huntington, West Virginia
    Huntington, West Virginia
    Huntington is a city in Cabell and Wayne counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia, along the Ohio River. Most of the city is in Cabell County, for which it is the county seat. A small portion of the city, mainly the neighborhood of Westmoreland, is in Wayne County. Its population was 49,138 at...

  • Big Sandy River
    Big Sandy River (Ohio River)
    The Big Sandy River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately long, in western West Virginia and northeastern Kentucky in the United States. The river forms part of the boundary between the two states along its entire course...

     – Kentucky-West Virginia border
  • Little Sandy River
    Little Sandy River (Kentucky)
    The Little Sandy River is a tributary of the Ohio River, about long, in northeastern Kentucky in the United States. Via the Ohio, it is part of the Mississippi River watershed.-Course:...

     – Greenup, Kentucky
    Greenup, Kentucky
    Greenup is a city in Greenup County, Kentucky, at the confluence of the Ohio and Little Sandy Rivers. The population was 1,198 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Greenup County. Greenup is named in honor of Christopher Greenup....

  • Kinniconick Creek – Vanceburg, Kentucky
    Vanceburg, Kentucky
    Vanceburg is a city in Lewis County, Kentucky, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 1,731 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Lewis County.Vanceburg is part of the Maysville Micropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

  • Scioto River
    Scioto River
    The Scioto River is a river in central and southern Ohio more than 231 miles in length. It rises in Auglaize County in west central Ohio, flows through Columbus, Ohio, where it collects its largest tributary, the Olentangy River, and meets the Ohio River at Portsmouth...

     – Portsmouth, Ohio
    Portsmouth, Ohio
    Portsmouth is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Scioto County. The municipality is located on the northern banks of the Ohio River and east of the Scioto River in Southern Ohio. The population was 20,226 at the 2010 census.-Foundation:...

  • Little Scioto River
    Little Scioto River (Ohio River)
    The Little Scioto River is a tributary of the Ohio River, about long, in southern Ohio in the United States. Via the Ohio River, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River, draining an area of ....

     – Sciotoville, Ohio
    Sciotoville, Ohio
    Sciotoville is a populated place in the city of Portsmouth in Scioto County, Ohio. It is located at the intersection of U.S. 52 and State Route 335 between the village of New Boston and Wheelersburg in Scioto County along the northern bank of the Ohio River...

  • Little Miami River
    Little Miami River
    The Little Miami River is a Class I tributary of the Ohio River that flows through five counties in southwestern Ohio in the United States. The Little Miami joins the Ohio River east of Cincinnati. It forms parts of the borders between Hamilton and Clermont counties and between Hamilton and Warren...

     – Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Licking River
    Licking River (Kentucky)
    The Licking River is a tributary of the Ohio River in northeastern Kentucky in the United States. The river and its tributaries drain much of the region of northeastern Kentucky between the watersheds of the Kentucky River to the west and the Big Sandy River to the east.-Origin of name:The Native...

     – Newport
    Newport, Kentucky
    Newport is a city in Campbell County, Kentucky, United States, at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking rivers. The population was 15,273 at the 2010 census. Historically, it was one of four county seats of Campbell County. Newport is part of the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio Metro Area which...

    -Covington
    Covington, Kentucky
    -Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 43,370 people, 18,257 households, and 10,132 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,301.3 people per square mile . There were 20,448 housing units at an average density of 1,556.5 per square mile...

    , Kentucky
  • Great Miami River
    Great Miami River
    The Great Miami River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately long, in southwestern Ohio in the United States...

     – Ohio-Indiana border
  • Salt River
    Salt River (Kentucky)
    The Salt River is a river in Kentucky that drains . It begins near Danville, Kentucky, rising from the north slope of Persimmon Knob south of KY 300 between Alum Springs and Wilsonville, and ends at the Ohio River near West Point...

     – West Point, Kentucky
    West Point, Kentucky
    West Point is a city in Hardin County, Kentucky, United States, near the edge of Fort Knox military reservation on Dixie Highway. It is located in a former meander bend of the Ohio River...

  • Kentucky River
    Kentucky River
    The Kentucky River is a tributary of the Ohio River, long, in the U.S. state of Kentucky. The river and its tributaries drain much of the central region of the state, with its upper course passing through the coal-mining regions of the Cumberland Mountains, and its lower course passing through the...

     – Carrollton, Kentucky
    Carrollton, Kentucky
    Carrollton is a town in Carroll County, Kentucky, at the confluence of the Ohio River and the Kentucky River. Its population was 3,846 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Carroll County....

  • Green River
    Green River (Kentucky)
    The Green River is a tributary of the Ohio River that rises in Lincoln County in south-central Kentucky. Tributaries of the Green River include the Barren River, the Nolin River, the Pond River and the Rough River...

     – Kentucky
  • Wabash River
    Wabash River
    The Wabash River is a river in the Midwestern United States that flows southwest from northwest Ohio near Fort Recovery across northern Indiana to southern Illinois, where it forms the Illinois-Indiana border before draining into the Ohio River, of which it is the largest northern tributary...

     – Indiana-Illinois border
  • Saline River
    Saline River (Illinois)
    The Saline River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately long, in the Southern Illinois region of the U.S. state of Illinois. The river drains a large section of southeast Illinois, with a drainage basin of . The major tributaries include the South Fork, Middle Fork and North Fork, all...

     – Illinois
  • Cumberland River
    Cumberland River
    The Cumberland River is a waterway in the Southern United States. It is long. It starts in Harlan County in far southeastern Kentucky between Pine and Cumberland mountains, flows through southern Kentucky, crosses into northern Tennessee, and then curves back up into western Kentucky before...

     – Smithland, Kentucky
    Smithland, Kentucky
    Smithland is a city in Livingston County, Kentucky, United States, at the confluence of the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers. The population was 401 at the 2000 census...

  • Tennessee River
    Tennessee River
    The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names...

     – Paducah, Kentucky
    Paducah, Kentucky
    Paducah is the largest city in Kentucky's Jackson Purchase Region and the county seat of McCracken County, Kentucky, United States. It is located at the confluence of the Tennessee River and the Ohio River, halfway between the metropolitan areas of St. Louis, Missouri, to the west and Nashville,...

  • Cache River
    Cache River (Illinois)
    The Cache River is a waterway in southernmost Illinois, in a region sometimes called Little Egypt. The basin spans and six counties: Alexander, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union. Located at the convergence of four major physiographic regions, the river is part of the largest complex of...

     – Illinois
  • Little Beaver Creek
    Little Beaver Creek
    The Little Beaver Creek is a wild and scenic area in Ohio. The Little Beaver Creek watershed is located primarily in Columbiana County in northeast Ohio, and in portions of Carroll County, Mahoning County, and western Pennsylvania, draining approximately 605 mi² , of which 503 mi² are in Ohio...

     - East Liverpool, Ohio
    East Liverpool, Ohio
    As of the census of 2000, there were 13,089 people, 5,261 households, and 3,424 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,010.3 people per square mile . There were 5,743 housing units at an average density of 1,320.8 per square mile...


Drainage basin


The Ohio's drainage basin covers 189422 square miles (490,600.7 km²), encompassing the easternmost regions of the Mississippi Basin. The Ohio drains parts of 14 states in four regions.
  • Mid-Atlantic
    • New York
      New York
      New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

      : a small area of the southern border along the headwaters of the Allegheny.
    • Pennsylvania: a corridor from the southwestern corner to north central border.
    • Maryland: a small corridor along the Youghiogheny River
      Youghiogheny River
      The Youghiogheny River , or the Yough for short, is a tributary of the Monongahela River in the U.S. states of West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania...

       on the western border.

  • Upper South
    • West Virginia: all but the Eastern Panhandle
      Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia
      The Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia is a narrow stretch of territory in the northeast of the state, bordering Maryland and Virginia, United States. The Eastern Panhandle Board of Realtors and other local civic organizations consider only the three Easternmost counties, Jefferson, Berkeley and...

      .
    • Kentucky: all but a small part in the extreme west drained directly by the Mississippi.
    • Tennessee: all but a small part in the extreme west drained directly by the Mississippi, and a very small area in the southeastern corner which is drained by the Conasauga River
      Conasauga River
      The Conasauga River is a river that runs through southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia. The Conasauga River is long and is home to 90 species of fish and 25 species of freshwater mussels...

      .
    • Virginia
      Virginia
      The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

      : most of southwest Virginia.
    • North Carolina
      North Carolina
      North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

      : the western quarter.

  • Midwest
    • Ohio: the southern half.
    • Indiana: all but the northern area.
    • Illinois: the southeast quarter.

  • Deep South
    • Georgia
      Georgia (U.S. state)
      Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

      : the far northwest corner.
    • Alabama
      Alabama
      Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

      : the northern portion.
    • Mississippi
      Mississippi
      Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

      : the northeast corner.

Geology


From a geological standpoint, the Ohio River is young. The river formed on a piecemeal basis beginning between 2.5 and 3 million years ago. The earliest ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

s occurred at this time and dammed portions of north-flowing rivers. The Teays River
Teays River
The Teays River was an important preglacial river that drained much of the area now drained by the Ohio River, and more. Traces of the Teays across northern Ohio and Indiana are represented by a network of river valleys. These valleys were carved in the late Cenozoic and eventually led to the...

 was the largest of these rivers. The modern Ohio River flows within segments of the ancient Teays. The ancient rivers were rearranged or consumed by glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s and lakes.

Upper Ohio River


The upper Ohio River formed when one of the glacial lakes overflowed into a south-flowing tributary of the Teays River
Teays River
The Teays River was an important preglacial river that drained much of the area now drained by the Ohio River, and more. Traces of the Teays across northern Ohio and Indiana are represented by a network of river valleys. These valleys were carved in the late Cenozoic and eventually led to the...

. Prior to that event, the north-flowing Steubenville River (no longer in existence) ended between New Martinsville and Paden City, West Virginia. Likewise, the south-flowing Marietta River (no longer in existence) ended between the present-day cities. The overflowing lake carved through the separating hill and connected the rivers.

The resulting floodwaters enlarged the small Marietta
Marietta, Ohio
Marietta is a city in and the county seat of Washington County, Ohio, United States. During 1788, pioneers to the Ohio Country established Marietta as the first permanent American settlement of the new United States in the Northwest Territory. Marietta is located in southeastern Ohio at the mouth...

 valley to a size more typical of a large river. The new large river subsequently drained glacial lakes and melting glaciers at the end of several Ice Ages
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

. The valley grew with each major ice age.

Many small rivers were altered or abandoned after the upper Ohio River formed. Valleys of some abandoned rivers can still be seen on satellite and aerial images of the hills of Ohio and West Virginia between Marietta, Ohio
Marietta, Ohio
Marietta is a city in and the county seat of Washington County, Ohio, United States. During 1788, pioneers to the Ohio Country established Marietta as the first permanent American settlement of the new United States in the Northwest Territory. Marietta is located in southeastern Ohio at the mouth...

, and Huntington, West Virginia
Huntington, West Virginia
Huntington is a city in Cabell and Wayne counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia, along the Ohio River. Most of the city is in Cabell County, for which it is the county seat. A small portion of the city, mainly the neighborhood of Westmoreland, is in Wayne County. Its population was 49,138 at...

. As testimony to the major changes that occurred, such valleys are found on hilltops.

Middle Ohio River


The middle Ohio River formed in a manner similar to formation of the upper Ohio River. A north-flowing river was temporarily dammed southwest of present-day Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

, creating a large lake until the dam burst. A new route was carved to the Mississippi. Eventually the upper and middle sections combined to form what is essentially the modern Ohio River.

History


Pre-Columbian inhabitants of eastern North America considered the Ohio part of a single river continuing on through the lower Mississippi. The river's name comes from the Seneca
Seneca language
Seneca is the language of the Seneca people, one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois League. About 10,000 Seneca live in the United States and Canada, primarily on reservations in western New York, with others living in Oklahoma and near Brantford, Ontario.-Phonology:Seneca words are written with...

 (Iroquoian
Iroquoian languages
The Iroquoian languages are a First Nation and Native American language family.-Family division:*Ruttenber, Edward Manning. 1992 [1872]. History of the Indian tribes of Hudson's River. Hope Farm Press....

) ohiːyo, a proper name derived from ohiːyoːh, meaning "good river". The river is 1310 miles (2,108.2 km) long and carries the largest volume of water of any tributary of the Mississippi. The Indians and early explorers and settlers of the region also often considered the Allegheny to be part of the Ohio. The forks
Point State Park
Point State Park is a Pennsylvania state park on in Downtown Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, forming the Ohio River....

 (the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers at what is now Pittsburgh) was considered a strategic military location.

In 1669 René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, or Robert de LaSalle was a French explorer. He explored the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico...

, led an expedition of French traders
La Salle Expeditions
The Expeditions of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle were a series of trips into the Mississippi and Ohio Valley by French explorers led by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle that began in the late 1660s and continued for two decades. Much of the area that was explored was land that no...

 who became the first Europeans to see the river. He traveled from Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and entered the headwaters of the Ohio, traveling as far as the Falls of Ohio at present-day Louisville before turning back. He returned to explore the river again in other expeditions. An Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 cartographer traveling with him created the first map of the Ohio River. La Salle claimed the Ohio Valley for France.

French fur traders operated in the area, and France built forts along the Allegheny River.

In 1749, Great Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 established the Ohio Company
Ohio Company
The Ohio Company, formally known as the Ohio Company of Virginia, was a land speculation company organized for the settlement by Virginians of the Ohio Country and to trade with the Indians there...

 to settle and trade in the area. Exploration of the territory and trade with the Indians in the region near the Forks by British colonials from Pennsylvania and Virginia - both of which claimed the territory - led to conflict with the French. In 1763, following the Seven Years War, France ceded the area to Britain.

The 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix
Treaty of Fort Stanwix
The Treaty of Fort Stanwix was an important treaty between North American Indians and the British Empire. It was signed in 1768 at Fort Stanwix, located in present-day Rome, New York...

 opened Kentucky to colonial settlement and established the Ohio River as a southern boundary for American Indian territory. In 1774, the Quebec Act
Quebec Act
The Quebec Act of 1774 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain setting procedures of governance in the Province of Quebec...

 restored the land east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River to Quebec, appeasing the French-speaking British subjects, but angering the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

. They listed it as one of the Intolerable Acts
Intolerable Acts
The Intolerable Acts or the Coercive Acts are names used to describe a series of laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 relating to Britain's colonies in North America...

 which precipitated the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

.

Louisville was founded at the only major natural navigational barrier on the river, the Falls of the Ohio. The Falls were a series of rapids where the river dropped 26 feet (7.9 m) in a stretch of about 2 miles (3.2 km). In this area, the river flowed over hard, fossil-rich beds of limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

. The first locks
Lock (water transport)
A lock is a device for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. The distinguishing feature of a lock is a fixed chamber in which the water level can be varied; whereas in a caisson lock, a boat lift, or on a canal inclined plane, it is...

 on the river were built in 1825 at Louisville to circumnavigate the falls. Today it is the site of McAlpine Locks and Dam
McAlpine Locks and Dam
The McAlpine Locks and Dam refers to the series of locks and the hydroelectric dam in Louisville, Kentucky at the Falls of the Ohio. They are located at mile point 606.8 and control a 72.9 mile long navigation pool...

.

Because the Ohio River flowed westwardly, it became a convenient means of westward movement by pioneers traveling from western Pennsylvania. After reaching the mouth of the Ohio, settlers would travel north on the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

. There, some continued on up the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

, some up the Mississippi, and some further west over land routes. In the early 19th century, pirates such as Samuel Mason
Samuel Mason
Samuel Mason or Meason was a Revolutionary War militia captain on the frontier, who following the war, became the leader of a gang of river pirates and highwaymen on the lower Ohio River and the Mississippi River in the late 18th and early 19th centuries...

, operating out of Cave-In-Rock, Illinois
Cave-In-Rock, Illinois
Cave-In-Rock is a village in Hardin County, Illinois, United States. Its principal feature and attraction is a large nearby cave on the banks of the Ohio River. Cave-in-Rock was originally a stronghold for outlaws including; river pirates and highwaymen, Samuel Mason and James Ford, tavern...

, waylaid travelers on their way down the river. They killed travelers, stealing their goods and scuttling their boats. The folktales about Mike Fink
Mike Fink
Mike Fink called "king of the keelboaters", was a semi-legendary brawler and boatman who exemplified the tough and hard-drinking men who ran keelboats up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers....

 recall the keelboat
Keelboat
Keelboat has two distinct meanings related to two different types of boats: one a riverine cargo-capable working boat, and the other a classification for small- to mid-sized recreational sailing yachts.-Historical keel-boats:...

s used for commerce in the early days of European settlement. The Ohio River boatmen were the inspiration for performer Dan Emmett
Dan Emmett
Daniel Decatur "Dan" Emmett was an American songwriter and entertainer, founder of the first troupe of the blackface minstrel tradition.-Biography:...

, who in 1843 wrote the song "The Boatman's Dance
The Boatman's Dance
The Boatman's Dance is a minstrel song credited to Dan Emmett in 1843 and arranged by Aaron Copland as part of his set of Old American Songs....

".

Trading boats and ships traveled south on the Mississippi to New Orleans, and sometimes beyond to the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

 and other ports in the Americas and Europe. This provided a much-needed export route for goods from the west, since the trek east over the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

 was long and arduous. The need for access to the port of New Orleans by settlers in the Ohio Valley led to the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 in 1803.

Because the river is the southern border of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, it was part of the border between free states and slave states in the years before the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. The expression "sold down the river" originated as a lament of Upper South slaves, especially from Kentucky, who were shipped via the Ohio and Mississippi to cotton and sugar plantations in the Deep South
Deep South
The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period...

. Before and during the Civil War, the Ohio River was called the "River Jordan" by slaves crossing it to escape to freedom in the North via the Underground Railroad
Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was an informal network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists,...

. More escaping slaves, estimated in the thousands, made their perilous journey north to freedom across the Ohio River than anywhere else across the north-south frontier. Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom...

's Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War", according to Will Kaufman....

, the bestselling novel that fueled abolitionist work, was the best known of the anti-slavery novels that portrayed such escapes across the Ohio. The times have been expressed by 20th-century novelists as well, such as the Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

-winning Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved...

, whose novel Beloved
Beloved (novel)
Beloved is a novel by the American writer Toni Morrison, published in 1987. Set in 1873 just after the American Civil War , it is based on the story of the African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who escaped slavery in 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to Ohio, a free state...

 was adapted as a film of the same name. She also composed the libretto for the opera Margaret Garner
Margaret Garner
Margaret Garner was an enslaved African American woman in pre-Civil War America who was notorious - or celebrated - for killing her own daughter rather than allow the child to be returned to slavery. She and her family had escaped in January 1856 across the frozen Ohio River to Cincinnati, but...

 (2005), based on the life and trial of an enslaved woman who escaped with her family across the river.

The Ohio River is considered to separate Midwestern
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

 Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 states from the Upper South states, which were historically border states
Border states
Border states is a term referring to the European nations that won their independence from the Russian Empire after the Russian Revolution, the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and ultimately the defeat of the German Empire in World War I...

 in the Civil War.

The colonial charter for Virginia defined its territory as extending to the north shore of the Ohio, so that the riverbed was "owned" by Virginia. Where the river serves as a boundary between states today, Congress designated the entire river to belong to the states on the east and south, i.e., West Virginia and Kentucky at the time of admission to the Union, that were divided from Virginia. Thus Wheeling Island
Wheeling Island
Wheeling Island is the most densely populated island in the Ohio River. It lies within the city of Wheeling in Ohio County, West Virginia, in the United States. The 2000 census showed a resident population of 3,142 persons on the island, which has a land area of 1.514 km²...

, the largest inhabited island in the Ohio River, belongs to West Virginia, although it is closer to the Ohio shore than to the West Virginia shore. Kentucky brought suit against Indiana in the early 1980s because of the building of the Marble Hill nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 plant in Indiana, which would have discharged its waste water into the river.

The U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 held that Kentucky's jurisdiction (and, implicitly, that of West Virginia) extended only to the low-water mark of 1793 (important because the river has been extensively dammed for navigation, so that the present river bank is north of the old low-water mark.) Similarly, in the 1990s, Kentucky challenged Illinois' right to collect taxes on a riverboat casino
Harrah's Metropolis
Harrah's Metropolis is a riverboat casino located on the Ohio River in Metropolis, Illinois. Originally opened by in 1994 as a joint venture between Players International and show business impresario Merv Griffin as one of the state's first casinos, the property became part of Harrah's as part of...

 docked in Metropolis
Metropolis, Illinois
Metropolis is a city located along the Ohio River in Massac County, Illinois, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 6,482...

, citing its own control of the entire river. A private casino riverboat
Casino Aztar Evansville
Casino Aztar, located in downtown Evansville, Indiana, was the first riverboat casino in the state of Indiana, United States. The casino is owned and operated by Tropicana Entertainment which purchased original owner Aztar Corporation in 2007....

 that docked in Evansville, Indiana
Evansville, Indiana
Evansville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Indiana and the largest city in Southern Indiana. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 117,429. It is the county seat of Vanderburgh County and the regional hub for both Southwestern Indiana and the...

, on the Ohio River opened about the same time. Although such boats cruised on the Ohio River in an oval pattern up and down, the state of Kentucky soon protested. Other states had to limit their cruises to going forwards, then reversing and going backwards on the Indiana shore only. Since 2002, Indiana has allowed its riverboat casinos to be permanently docked.

In the early 1980s, the Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area
Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area
The Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area is a national, bi-state area on the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky in the United States, administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Federal status was awarded in 1981.- Overview :...

 was established at Clarksville, Indiana
Clarksville, Indiana
Clarksville is a town in Clark County, Indiana, United States, along the Ohio River as a part of the Louisville Metropolitan area. The population was 21,724 at the 2010 census. The town, once a home site to George Rogers Clark, was founded in 1783 and is the oldest American town in the Northwest...

.

River depth


The Ohio River is a naturally shallow river that was artificially deepened by a series of dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

s. The natural depth of the river varied from about 3 to 40 ft (0.9144 to 12.2 m). The dams raise the water level and have turned the river largely into a series of reservoir
Reservoir
A reservoir , artificial lake or dam is used to store water.Reservoirs may be created in river valleys by the construction of a dam or may be built by excavation in the ground or by conventional construction techniques such as brickwork or cast concrete.The term reservoir may also be used to...

s, eliminating shallow stretches and allowing for commercial navigation. From its origin to Cincinnati, the average depth is approximately 27 feet (8 m). The maximum depth is below the McAlpine Locks and Dam at the Falls of the Ohio
Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area
The Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area is a national, bi-state area on the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky in the United States, administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Federal status was awarded in 1981.- Overview :...

 at Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

, where flood stage is reached when the water reaches 55 feet (17 m) on the lower gauge. From Louisville, the river loses depth very gradually until its confluence with the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois
Cairo, Illinois
Cairo is the southernmost city in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the county seat of Alexander County. Cairo is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The rivers converge at Fort Defiance State Park, an American Civil War fort that was commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant...

, where it has an approximate depth of 20 feet (6 m).

Water levels for the Ohio River from Smithland Lock and Dam upstream to Pittsburgh are predicted daily by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , pronounced , like "noah", is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere...

's Ohio River Forecast Center. The water levels for the Ohio River from Smithland Lock and Dam to Cairo, Illinois, are predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , pronounced , like "noah", is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere...

's Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center. The water depth predictions are relative to each local flood plain based upon predicted rainfall in the Ohio River basin in five reports as follows:
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Hannibal Dam, Ohio (including the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers) (click to see report)
  • Willow Island Dam, Ohio, to Greenup Dam, Kentucky (including the Kanawha River) (click to see report)
  • Portsmouth, Ohio, to Markland Locks and Dam, Kentucky (click to see report)
  • McAlpine Locks and Dam
    McAlpine Locks and Dam
    The McAlpine Locks and Dam refers to the series of locks and the hydroelectric dam in Louisville, Kentucky at the Falls of the Ohio. They are located at mile point 606.8 and control a 72.9 mile long navigation pool...

    , Kentucky, to Cannelton Locks and Dam
    Cannelton Locks and Dam
    The Cannelton Locks and Dam is a concrete dam connected to two locks on the Ohio River at river mile 720.8. It is three miles upstream from Cannelton, Indiana...

    , Indiana (click to see report)
  • Newburgh Dam, Indiana, to Golconda, Illinois
    Golconda, Illinois
    Golconda is a city in, and the county seat of, Pope County, located along the Ohio River. The population was 726 at the 2000 census. The entire city has been designated a state Historic District.-Geography:Golconda is located at ....

     (click to see report)


Cities and towns along the river

Metro Area Population
Pittsburgh 2.4 million
Cincinnati 2.2 million
Louisville 1.4 million
Evansville
Evansville, IN-KY Metropolitan Statistical Area
The Evansville, IN-KY Metropolitan Statistical Area is the 142nd largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States. The primary city is Evansville, Indiana. Other Indiana cities include Boonville, Mount Vernon, Oakland City, and Princeton...

350,000
Huntington-Ashland
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH, Metropolitan Statistical Area
The Huntington-Ashland-Ironton metropolitan area is a United States metropolitan area that includes five counties in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. As of the 2000 census, the MSA had a population of 288,649. A July 1, 2009 estimate placed the population at 285,624. The MSA is nestled along the...

290,000
Parkersburg
Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna metropolitan area
The Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the United States Census Bureau, is an area consisting of three counties in West Virginia and one in Ohio, anchored by the cities of Parkersburg, West Virginia, Marietta, Ohio, and Vienna, West Virginia...

160,000
Wheeling 145,000
Weirton-Steubenville
Weirton-Steubenville metropolitan area
The Weirton-Steubenville Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the United States Census Bureau, is an area consisting of two counties in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and one in Ohio, anchored by the cities of Weirton, West Virginia, and Steubenville, Ohio...

132,008
Owensboro 112,000
New Albany 37,296
Jeffersonville 30,479
Henderson
Evansville, IN-KY Metropolitan Statistical Area
The Evansville, IN-KY Metropolitan Statistical Area is the 142nd largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States. The primary city is Evansville, Indiana. Other Indiana cities include Boonville, Mount Vernon, Oakland City, and Princeton...

27,952

Cities along the Ohio include:
  • Pennsylvania
    • Midland
      Midland, Pennsylvania
      Midland is a borough located along the Ohio River in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of the 2000 census, the borough population was 3,137.-Geography:Midland is located at ....

    • Pittsburgh
    • Ambridge
      Ambridge, Pennsylvania
      Ambridge is a borough in Beaver County in Western Pennsylvania, incorporated in 1905 and named after the American Bridge Company. Ambridge is located 16 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, alongside the Ohio River. In 1910, 5,205 people lived in Ambridge; in 1920, 12,730 people lived there, and in...

    • Monaca
      Monaca, Pennsylvania
      Monaca is a borough in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States along the Ohio River, northwest of Pittsburgh. Monaca was first incorporated as Phillipsburg in 1840, and had been known by that name since the 1820s. In 1892, the name of the borough was changed to Monaca in honor of the Native...

    • Beaver
      Beaver, Pennsylvania
      Beaver is a borough in and the county seat of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States, at the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio Rivers. As of the 2000 census, the borough population was 4,775, having dropped from 5,641 in 1940....

    • Rochester
      Rochester, Pennsylvania
      Rochester is a borough in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States. Located northwest of Pittsburgh, it is part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. The population was 4,014 at the 2000 census....

    • Shippingport
      Shippingport, Pennsylvania
      Shippingport is a borough in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, along the Ohio River. The population was 237 at the 2000 census.-Nuclear power plant:...

    • Aliquippa
      Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
      Aliquippa is a city in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States, within the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. The population was 9,438 at the 2010 census. Formerly a borough, it was formally named a city in 1987 by the Aliquippa Council.-History:...

    • Sewickley
      Sewickley, Pennsylvania
      Sewickley is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, west northwest of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. It is a residential suburb of Pittsburgh. The population was 3,827 at the 2010 census...

    • McKees Rocks
      McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania
      McKees Rocks, also known as "The Rocks", is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, along the south bank of the Ohio River. The borough population was 6,104 at the 2010 census.In the past, it was known for its extensive iron and steel interests...

    • Stowe
      Stowe Township, Pennsylvania
      Stowe Township is a township in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 6,362 at the 2010 census.It is located in the Sto-Rox School District, which serves both Stowe Township and the neighboring borough of McKees Rocks....

    • Coraopolis
      Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
      Coraopolis is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA. The population was 5,677 at the 2010 census. In 1940 the population peaked at 11,086. It is a small community located to the west of Pittsburgh, along the Ohio River and to the east of the Pittsburgh International Airport...

  • Ohio
    • Aberdeen
      Aberdeen, Ohio
      Aberdeen is a village in Brown County, Ohio, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 1,603 at the 2000 census.Aberdeen is connected to Maysville, Kentucky by the Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge to downtown Maysville and the William H. Harsha Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge completed in...

    • Bellaire
      Bellaire, Ohio
      Bellaire is a village in Belmont County, Ohio, United States. It is part of the Wheeling, West Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 4,278 at the 2010 census. The village is located along the Ohio River...

    • Belpre
      Belpre, Ohio
      Belpre is a city in Washington County, Ohio, United States, along the Ohio River. It is part of the Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna, WV-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 6,441 at the 2010 census....

    • Cincinnati
    • East Liverpool
      East Liverpool, Ohio
      As of the census of 2000, there were 13,089 people, 5,261 households, and 3,424 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,010.3 people per square mile . There were 5,743 housing units at an average density of 1,320.8 per square mile...

    • Gallipolis
      Gallipolis, Ohio
      As of the census of 2000, there were 4,180 people, 1,847 households, and 1,004 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,156.2 people per square mile . There were 2,056 housing units at an average density of 568.7 per square mile...

    • Ironton
      Ironton, Ohio
      Ironton is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Lawrence County. The municipality is located in southern Ohio along the Ohio River. The population was 11,211 at the 2000 census. Ironton is a part of the Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH, Metropolitan Statistical Area . As of the...

    • Manchester
      Manchester, Ohio
      Manchester is a village in Adams County, Ohio, United States, along the Ohio River. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 2,043....

    • Marietta
      Marietta, Ohio
      Marietta is a city in and the county seat of Washington County, Ohio, United States. During 1788, pioneers to the Ohio Country established Marietta as the first permanent American settlement of the new United States in the Northwest Territory. Marietta is located in southeastern Ohio at the mouth...

    • Martins Ferry
      Martins Ferry, Ohio
      During the census of 2000, there were 7,226 people, 3,202 households, and 1,959 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,345.1 people per square mile . There were 3,680 housing units at an average density of 1,703.6 per square mile...

    • Pomeroy
      Pomeroy, Ohio
      Pomeroy is a village in and the county seat of Meigs County, Ohio, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 1,966 at the 2000 census. During the late 19th century, Pomeroy was an important producer of coal and salt...

    • Portsmouth
      Portsmouth, Ohio
      Portsmouth is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Scioto County. The municipality is located on the northern banks of the Ohio River and east of the Scioto River in Southern Ohio. The population was 20,226 at the 2010 census.-Foundation:...

    • Ripley
      Ripley, Ohio
      Ripley is a village in Brown County, Ohio, United States, along the Ohio River 50 miles southeast of Cincinnati. The population was 1,745 at the 2000 census.-History:...

    • Steubenville
      Steubenville, Ohio
      Steubenville is a city located along the Ohio River in Jefferson County, Ohio on the Ohio-West Virginia border in the United States. It is the political county seat of Jefferson County. It is also a principal city of the Weirton–Steubenville, WV-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area...


  • West Virginia
    • Weirton
      Weirton, West Virginia
      Weirton is a city located in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, United States. Most of the city is in Hancock County, with the remainder in Brooke County. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 20,411...

    • Wheeling
      Wheeling, West Virginia
      Wheeling is a city in Ohio and Marshall counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia; it is the county seat of Ohio County. Wheeling is the principal city of the Wheeling Metropolitan Statistical Area...

    • Moundsville
      Moundsville, West Virginia
      Moundsville is a city in Marshall County, West Virginia, along the Ohio River. It is part of the Wheeling Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 9,998 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Marshall County. The city was named for the Grave Creek Mound. Moundsville was settled in...

    • New Martinsville
      New Martinsville, West Virginia
      New Martinsville is a city in Wetzel County, West Virginia, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 5,984 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Wetzel County.-Geography:New Martinsville is located at ....

    • Paden City
      Paden City, West Virginia
      Paden City is a city in Tyler and Wetzel Counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia, along the Ohio River. The population was 2,860 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Paden City is located at ....

    • St. Marys
      St. Marys, West Virginia
      St. Marys is a city in Pleasants County, West Virginia, in the United States. The population was 2,017 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Pleasants County. St. Marys was established in 1849 by Alexander Creel, who is said to have had a vision of Mary while passing the townsite by boat...

    • Parkersburg
      Parkersburg, West Virginia
      As of the census of 2000, there were 33,099 people, 14,467 households, and 8,767 families residing in the city. In 2006 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Parkersburg's population had decreased 4.4% to 31,755. The population density was 2,800.5 people per square mile . There were 16,100 housing...

    • Ravenswood
      Ravenswood, West Virginia
      Ravenswood is a city in Jackson County, West Virginia, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 4,031 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Ravenswood is located at , along the Ohio River at the mouth of Sandy Creek....

    • Point Pleasant
      Point Pleasant, West Virginia
      Point Pleasant is a city in Mason County, West Virginia, United States, at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers. The population was 4,637 at the 2000 census...

    • Huntington
      Huntington, West Virginia
      Huntington is a city in Cabell and Wayne counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia, along the Ohio River. Most of the city is in Cabell County, for which it is the county seat. A small portion of the city, mainly the neighborhood of Westmoreland, is in Wayne County. Its population was 49,138 at...

    • Kenova
      Kenova, West Virginia
      Kenova is a city in Wayne County, West Virginia, at the confluence of the Ohio and Big Sandy Rivers. The name of the town comes from its unique position where the borders of Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia meet. Founded in 1859 but not incorporated until 1894, the town's early history and...

  • Kentucky
    • Henderson
      Henderson, Kentucky
      Henderson is a city in Henderson County, Kentucky, United States, along the Ohio River in the western part of the state. The population was 27,952 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Evansville Metropolitan Area often referred to as "Kentuckiana", although "Tri-State Area" or "Tri-State" are more...

    • Ashland
      Ashland, Kentucky
      Ashland, formerly known as Poage Settlement, is a city in Boyd County, Kentucky, United States, nestled along the banks of the Ohio River. The population was 21,981 at the 2000 census. Ashland is a part of the Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH, Metropolitan Statistical Area . As of the 2000 census, the...

    • Vanceburg
      Vanceburg, Kentucky
      Vanceburg is a city in Lewis County, Kentucky, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 1,731 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Lewis County.Vanceburg is part of the Maysville Micropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

    • Maysville
      Maysville, Kentucky
      Maysville is a city in and the county seat of Mason County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 8,993 at the 2000 census, making it the fiftieth largest city in Kentucky by population. Maysville is on the Ohio River, northeast of Lexington. It is the principal city of the Maysville...

    • Augusta
      Augusta, Kentucky
      Augusta is a city in Bracken County, Kentucky, United States, along the Ohio River. As of the 2005 census, the city population was 2,004. When Bracken County was organized in 1796, Augusta was the county seat...

    • Fort Thomas
      Fort Thomas, Kentucky
      Fort Thomas is a city in Campbell County, Kentucky, on the southern bank of the Ohio River and the site of an 1890 US Army post. The population was 16,325 at the 2010 census, making it the largest city in Campbell County and it is officially part of the Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky metropolitan...

    • Newport
      Newport, Kentucky
      Newport is a city in Campbell County, Kentucky, United States, at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking rivers. The population was 15,273 at the 2010 census. Historically, it was one of four county seats of Campbell County. Newport is part of the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio Metro Area which...

    • Covington
      Covington, Kentucky
      -Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 43,370 people, 18,257 households, and 10,132 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,301.3 people per square mile . There were 20,448 housing units at an average density of 1,556.5 per square mile...

    • Ludlow
      Ludlow, Kentucky
      Ludlow is a city in Kenton County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 4,409 at the 2000 census. Ludlow is a suburb of Covington, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio, located on the Ohio River...

    • Louisville
      Louisville, Kentucky
      Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

    • Hawesville
      Hawesville, Kentucky
      Hawesville is a city in Hancock County, Kentucky, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 971 at the 2000 census. It is included in the Owensboro, Kentucky Metropolitan Statistical Area...

    • Lewisport
      Lewisport, Kentucky
      Lewisport is a city in Hancock County, Kentucky, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 1639 at the 2000 census. It is included in the Owensboro, Kentucky Metropolitan Statistical Area.Founded in 1839, Lewisport is named for an early settler....

    • Owensboro
      Owensboro, Kentucky
      Owensboro is the fourth largest city by population in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It is the county seat of Daviess County. It is located on U.S. Route 60 about southeast of Evansville, Indiana, and is the principal city of the Owensboro, Kentucky, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's...

    • Paducah
      Paducah, Kentucky
      Paducah is the largest city in Kentucky's Jackson Purchase Region and the county seat of McCracken County, Kentucky, United States. It is located at the confluence of the Tennessee River and the Ohio River, halfway between the metropolitan areas of St. Louis, Missouri, to the west and Nashville,...

    • Warsaw
      Warsaw, Kentucky
      Warsaw is a city in Gallatin County, Kentucky, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 1,811 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Gallatin County It was named after Warsaw, Poland .-Geography:...

    • Ghent
      Ghent, Kentucky
      Ghent is a town in Carroll County, Kentucky, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 371 at the 2000 census. The name comes from the Flemish city Ghent.-Geography:Ghent is located at ....

    • Carrollton
      Carrollton, Kentucky
      Carrollton is a town in Carroll County, Kentucky, at the confluence of the Ohio River and the Kentucky River. Its population was 3,846 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Carroll County....



  • Indiana
    • Charlestown
      Charlestown, Indiana
      -Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 5,993 people, 2,341 households, and 1,615 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,570.0 people per square mile . There were 2,489 housing units at an average density of 1,067.4 per square mile...

    • Madison
      Madison, Indiana
      As of the census of 2000, there were 12,004 people, 5,092 households, and 3,085 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,402.9 people per square mile . There were 5,597 housing units at an average density of 654.1 per square mile...

    • Jeffersonville
      Jeffersonville, Indiana
      Jeffersonville is a city in Clark County, Indiana, along the Ohio River. Locally, the city is often referred to by the abbreviated name Jeff. It is directly across the Ohio River to the north of Louisville, Kentucky along I-65. The population was 44,953 at the 2010 census...

    • Clarksville
      Clarksville, Indiana
      Clarksville is a town in Clark County, Indiana, United States, along the Ohio River as a part of the Louisville Metropolitan area. The population was 21,724 at the 2010 census. The town, once a home site to George Rogers Clark, was founded in 1783 and is the oldest American town in the Northwest...

    • New Albany
      New Albany, Indiana
      New Albany is a city in Floyd County, Indiana, United States, situated along the Ohio River opposite Louisville, Kentucky. In 1900, 20,628 people lived in New Albany; in 1910, 20,629; in 1920, 22,992; and in 1940, 25,414. The population was 36,372 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of...

    • Tell City
      Tell City, Indiana
      Tell City is a city in Troy Township, Perry County, Indiana, along the Ohio River, Indiana's southern border. The population was 7,272 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Perry County.-History:...

    • Cannelton
      Cannelton, Indiana
      Cannelton is a city in Troy Township, Perry County, Indiana, United States, along the Ohio River. The population was 1,209 at the 2000 census. Cannelton, which is the smallest incorporated city in the state, was formerly the county seat of Perry County until the seat was relocated to Tell City...

    • Evansville
      Evansville, Indiana
      Evansville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Indiana and the largest city in Southern Indiana. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 117,429. It is the county seat of Vanderburgh County and the regional hub for both Southwestern Indiana and the...

    • Mount Vernon
      Mount Vernon, Indiana
      Mount Vernon is a city in southern Indiana along the Ohio River and the county seat of Posey County. It is located in Black Township. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 6,687...

    • Lawrenceburg
      Lawrenceburg, Indiana
      Lawrenceburg is a city in Dearborn County, Indiana, United States. The population was 5,042 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Dearborn County...

    • Rising Sun
      Rising Sun, Indiana
      Rising Sun is a city in Randolph Township, Ohio County, Indiana, along the Ohio River. The population was 2,304 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Ohio County.-History:...

  • Illinois
    • Cairo
      Cairo, Illinois
      Cairo is the southernmost city in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the county seat of Alexander County. Cairo is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The rivers converge at Fort Defiance State Park, an American Civil War fort that was commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant...

    • Metropolis
      Metropolis, Illinois
      Metropolis is a city located along the Ohio River in Massac County, Illinois, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 6,482...

    • Brookport
      Brookport, Illinois
      Brookport is a city in Massac County, Illinois, United States. The population was 1,054 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Paducah, KY-IL Micropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Brookport is located at ....

    • Old Shawneetown
      Old Shawneetown, Illinois
      Old Shawneetown is a village in Gallatin County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 193. Located along the Ohio River, Shawneetown served as an important United States government administrative center for the Northwest Territory. The village was...

    • Cave-In-Rock
      Cave-In-Rock, Illinois
      Cave-In-Rock is a village in Hardin County, Illinois, United States. Its principal feature and attraction is a large nearby cave on the banks of the Ohio River. Cave-in-Rock was originally a stronghold for outlaws including; river pirates and highwaymen, Samuel Mason and James Ford, tavern...

    • Elizabethtown
      Elizabethtown, Illinois
      Elizabethtown is a village in Hardin County, Illinois, along the Ohio River. The population was 348 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Hardin County. It the location of the Rose Hotel, an Illinois state historic site built about 1830. The village of Elizabethtown was founded around...

    • Rosiclare
      Rosiclare, Illinois
      Rosiclare is a city in Hardin County, Illinois, along the Ohio River. The population was 1,213 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Rosiclare is located at ....

    • Golconda
      Golconda, Illinois
      Golconda is a city in, and the county seat of, Pope County, located along the Ohio River. The population was 726 at the 2000 census. The entire city has been designated a state Historic District.-Geography:Golconda is located at ....


Recreation


The world record
World record
A world record is usually the best global performance ever recorded and verified in a specific skill or sport. The book Guinness World Records collates and publishes notable records of all types, from first and best to worst human achievements, to extremes in the natural world and beyond...

 for the largest blue catfish
Blue catfish
The blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus, is one of the largest species of North American catfish. Blue catfish are distributed primarily in the Mississippi River drainage including the Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Arkansas rivers...

 104 pounds (47.2 kg) taken in the line class was set on the Ohio River in 1999. The river also holds records for the following species for the state of Kentucky:
  • Channel catfish
    Channel catfish
    Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, is North America's most numerous catfish species. It is the official fish of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Tennessee, and is informally referred to as a "channel cat". In the United States they are the most fished catfish species with approximately 8...

    , 32 pounds (14.5 kg)
  • Longnose gar
    Longnose gar
    The longnose gar, Lepisosteus osseus, is a primitive ray-finned fish of the gar family. It is also known as the needlenose gar.- Description :...

    , 40 pounds (18.1 kg)
  • Paddlefish
    Paddlefish
    Paddlefish are primitive Chondrostean ray-finned fishes. The paddlefish can be distinguished by its large mouth and its elongated, spatula-like snout, called a rostrum, which is longer than the rest of the head...

    , 106 pounds (48.1 kg)
  • Silver carp
    Silver carp
    The silver carp is a species of freshwater cyprinid fish, a variety of Asian carp native to north and northeast Asia. It is cultivated in China....

    , 9.2 pounds (4.2 kg)
  • Skipjack herring, 3.1 pounds (1.4 kg)
  • Saugeye
    Sauger
    The sauger is a freshwater perciform fish of the family Percidae which resembles its close relative the walleye. They are members of the largest vertebrate order, Perciforms. They are the most migratory percid species in North America. Saugers obtain two dorsal fins, the first is spiny and the...

    , 6.58 pounds (3 kg)


The Ohio River from Cairo, Illinois
Cairo, Illinois
Cairo is the southernmost city in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the county seat of Alexander County. Cairo is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The rivers converge at Fort Defiance State Park, an American Civil War fort that was commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant...

, to Smithland, Kentucky
Smithland, Kentucky
Smithland is a city in Livingston County, Kentucky, United States, at the confluence of the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers. The population was 401 at the 2000 census...

, comprises a significant portion of the Great Loop
Great loop
The circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water is known as The Great Loop. Also improperly referred to as the Great Circle Route , the trip varies from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles depending on the options used. The boats used range from personal watercraft to 60-foot yachts...

, the circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water for recreational purposes.

See also

  • Geography of the United States
    Geography of the United States
    The United States is a country in the Western Hemisphere. It consists of forty-eight contiguous states in North America, Alaska, a peninsula which forms the northwestern most part of North America, and Hawaii, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. There are several United States territories in the...

  • Islands of the Midwest
    Islands of the Midwest
    This is a partial list of islands of the Midwestern United States. -Illinois:*Bardwell Island*Campbell's Island*Chouteau Island*Dillon Island*Gabaret Island*Goose Island...

  • List of crossings of the Ohio River
  • List of islands of West Virginia (including islands on Ohio River)
  • List of locks and dams of the Ohio River
  • List of rivers of Pennsylvania
  • List of variant names of the Ohio River
  • Ohio and Erie Canal
    Ohio and Erie Canal
    The Ohio Canal or Ohio and Erie Canal was a canal constructed in the 1820s and early 1830s. It connected Akron, Summit County, with the Cuyahoga River near its mouth on Lake Erie in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and a few years later, with the Ohio River near Portsmouth, Scioto County, and then...

  • Ohio River Bridges Project
    Ohio River Bridges Project
    The Ohio River Bridges Project is a controversial Louisville metropolitan area transportation project involving the reconstruction of the Kennedy Interchange , the completion of two new Ohio River bridges and the reconstruction of ramps on Interstate 65 between I-264 and downtown.One bridge will be...

  • Ohio River flood of 1937
    Ohio River flood of 1937
    The Ohio River flood of 1937 took place in late January and February 1937. With damage stretching from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois, one million persons were left homeless, with 385 dead and property losses reaching $500 million...

  • Watersheds of Illinois
    Watersheds of Illinois
    Watersheds of Illinois is a list of basins or catchment areas into which the State of Illinois can be divided based on the place to which water flows....

  • List of longest rivers of the United States (by main stem)

External links