Fawcettstown, later to become East Liverpool, marked the first Ohio community to be encountered by early river travelers as they headed toward new challenges and new lives in the expanding nation. Indian canoes, flatboats, and steamboats carried increasing traffic, both passenger and freight, along these Ohio “Gateway” shores. Many of these early craft were built locally and local residents served as crewmen. Products from farms and ceramics from this city’s pioneer potteries were shipped from this site. The wharf area also served as a landing place for many of the early English potters who came here to ply their trades and, in the process, create a defining industry. The river continues to play an important role in industrial and recreational capacities.
The Ohio River begins at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and flows 981 miles to join the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois. The Iroquois called the river “Oyo” or “Ohio,” which the French translated as “La Belle Riviere,” the Beautiful River. It was an important transportation route for countless generations of Native Americans and, beginning in the 1780s, for Euro-American settlers. It was the main route to the opening West and the principal outlet for the region’s growing farm output. Congress first acted to improve navigation in 1824 and, later, by canalizing the river with a series of locks and dams beginning in 1878. River commerce has increased with industrialization, moving up to 150 million tons annually.