If you’ve lived in the Portsmouth area long enough, you’re probably familiar with the murals along the floodwall, but for some, their origins are still a mystery. For the next several weeks, the Daily Times will be presenting a series of stories about specific murals and their role in the community.
Located along Front Street, these murals portray the history of Portsmouth from the mound building Indians to the present day, and use a 20-foot high, 2,000 foot-long floodwall as a canvas. The project runs the length of the historic district and includes over 55 different scenes.
In 1992, the planning stages of the Floodwall Mural Project began with the formation of an ad hoc committee, which later registered as a nonprofit organization – Portsmouth Floodwall Murals, Inc. (PMI). Robert Dafford, an internationally known muralist from Lafayette, Louisiana, was contracted for the project.
The first mural was completed in 1993. The murals are arranged chronologically from east to west, starting with the depiction of the Mound Builders. The series of murals serve as a visual history of the Portsmouth area.
Last week, the Daily Times touched on the history of the Shawnee Native American village mural, which depicts a winter scene of Native Americans looking across the Ohio River.
Continuing chronologically, the next mural in the series is the Celoron de Blainville mural, set in 1749.
The original mural, entitled, “Under the Banner of France,” by H.H. Wessel, can be found nearby in what is now the third floor, Law Library of the Scioto County Court House.
In 1749, the French sent troops, under the command of Pierre Joseph Celoron de Blainville, down the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers to assert French claims to the lands of all tributaries flowing into the Ohio.
According to Ohio Historical, news of recent trade agreements between the English colonists and the Ohio Indians moved the French to assert their claims to the region via Celoron’s Expedition.
The mural depicts the tension between Celoron and the Native American residents. These talks were difficult, and despite orders to expel and plunder English merchants, Celoron and his men would leave without evicting the handful of English who were living in the village at the time. Instead the French moved down river, without burying one of Celeron’s famous lead plates, which he attempted to place at the mouth of all major tributaries of the Ohio trying to claim lands.
For an audio tour of the murals, you can dial 740-621-8031. After the introduction, each mural is a “stop.”
If you’d like to see the murals for yourself, follow the green mural signs posted in the city on Washington Street (Rt. 23 South) leading to the murals on Front Street.
Portsmouth Mural Inc., is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organizations. If you wish to contribute to the project, you can do so by mailing contributions to Portsmouth Murals Inc. at P.O. Box 207, Portsmouth, Ohio, 45662.
For more information about the murals, you can visit the Scioto County Visitors Bureau at 342 Second Street in
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