Portfolio - Portsmouth Murals Gallery

These murals portray the history of Portsmouth, Ohio from the mound building Indians to the present day, and use a 20ft. high, 2000 ft. long floodwall as a canvas.

2002 marks the tenth and final year of the creation of the city of Portsmouth, Ohio's Floodwall Mural Project. These murals portray the history of the area from the mound building Indians to the present day, and use a 20ft. high, 2000 ft. long floodwall as a canvas. The project runs the length of the historic district and will include approximately 50 different scenes.

In 1992 the idea for the Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals was born. 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, who are ancestors of the Shawnee Indians. The series of murals are a visual history of the Portsmouth area.

Subjects covered by the murals span the history of the area from the ancient mound building Adena and Hopewell cultures to modern sporting events and notable natives. These subjects include:

• The Portsmouth Earthworks, a large mound complex constructed by the Ohio Hopewell culture from 100 BCE to 500 CE.

• Lower Shawneetown, a Shawnee village that straddled the Ohio River just downstream during the late 18th century.

• The 1749 'Lead Plate Expedition' to advance France's territorial claim on the Ohio Valley, led by Pierre Joseph CÚloron de Blainville.

• Tecumseh, a Native American leader of the Shawnee and a large tribal confederacy that opposed the United States during Tecumseh's War and the War of 1812. He grew up in the Ohio country during the American Revolutionary War and the Northwest Indian War.

• Henry Massie, a founding father of the town and the surveyor who laid out the original plat in 1803.

• A Civil War unit from Portsmouth, Battery L, fighting at Gettysburg

• Jim Thorpe, a Native American athlete who played as the player/coach of the semi professional Portsmouth Shoe steels in the late 1920s.

• The Portsmouth Spartans, a charter member of the NFL that later moved to Detroit to become the Detroit Lions.

• Branch Rickey, influential baseball coach, inventor of the farm team system, and the signer of Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball, which broke the baseball color line when Robinson debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

• Clarence Carter, an American Regionalist and surrealist painter.

• Local photographer and historic photo collector Carl Ackerman, from whose collection many of the murals draw their imagery.

• The disastrous Ohio River flood of 1937, the major reason for the construction of the floodwall itself.

• Transportation - stagecoaches, riverboats, railroads and the Ohio and Erie Canal, which had its terminus just outside of Portsmouth.

• Local notables including Roy Rogers, Jesse Stuart, Julia Marlowe, and Vern Riffe.

• Other panels explore the local history of education, the first European settlers, industry (including the steel industry, shoe industry, and the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant), sister cities, the local Carnegie library, firemen and police, period genre scenes of old downtown and other localities, and a memorial to area armed forces veterans. The original mural project was finished in the fall of 2003. Since then several additional panels have been added, including murals honoring Portsmouth's baseball heroes in 2006 and the Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV), a bicycle tour between Columbus and Portsmouth in 2007.