Sometimes when people think about who has used the Ohio River and how they have used it, they begin with the French explorers of the 1660’s or with Lewis and Clark, whose river journey began in Pittsburgh in 1803. Yet PaleoIndian people began living in the Ohio River valley as early as 13000 BCE. Many established settlements along the Ohio River and its tributaries and used the river and its fish as a source of food. Thus, this project begins with the PaleoIndians of 13000- 8000BC. It continues through the Archaic (8000-1000 BC), Early Woodland/Adena (1000BC-AD50), Middle Woodland/ Hopewell (50BC – AD 450), Late Woodland (AD450-1000) and Late Prehistoric/ Fort Ancient (AD 1000-1750) periods. The named historic Native American peoples who the first Western European explorers encountered — Shawnee, Delaware, Miami, Wyandot, and Potawatomi, among others, had probably moved into this territory after the demise of those earlier populations.
This project examines the Ohio River in six time periods: prehistoric, the 1820’s when Rafinesque’s book was published, around 1900, when industrialization was in its prime, around 1960, when it was declining, at the present, and in the future.