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Marietta, Ohio
Downtown Marietta in July 2007, including the Muskingum River (foreground) and the Ohio River (background right)
Downtown Marietta in July 2007, including the Muskingum River (foreground) and the Ohio River (background right)
Location of Marietta in Ohio
Location of Marietta in Ohio
Location of Marietta in Washington County
Location of Marietta in Washington County
Country United States
State Ohio
County Washington
Settled April 7, 1788
Named for Marie Antoinette
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Total 8.75 sq mi (22.66 km2)
 • Land 8.43 sq mi (21.83 km2)
 • Water 0.32 sq mi (0.83 km2)
614 ft (187 m)
 • Total 13,385
 • Density 1,588/sq mi (613.1/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 740, 220
FIPS code 39-47628
GNIS feature ID 1076339
Muskingum River Marietta
The Muskingum River near its mouth in downtown Marietta in 2007
The French monument in Marietta, Ohio; replica of a 1749 plaque by which the French claimed the Ohio Country, and a memorial by the French government given in 1937–1938 during the US celebration of the Northwest Territory to commemorate 23 men from Marietta College who served in 1917 in France as a volunteer ambulance corps in World War I.

Marietta is a city in, and the county seat of, Washington County, Ohio, United States. It is located in southeastern Ohio at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Parkersburg, West Virginia. As of the 2020 census, Marietta has a population of 13,385 people and is the principal city of the Marietta Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Washington County, and is the second-largest city in the Parkersburg–Marietta–Vienna, WV–OH Combined Statistical Area.

Founded in 1788 by pioneers to the Ohio Country, Marietta was the first permanent U.S. settlement in the newly established Northwest Territory, created in 1787, and what would later become the state of Ohio. It is named for Marie Antoinette, then Queen of France, in honor of French aid in the American Revolution. Prior to American settlement, the area was inhabited by various native tribes of the Hopewell tradition, who built the Marietta Earthworks, a complex more than 1,500 years old, whose Great Mound and other major monuments were preserved by the earliest settlers in parks such as Mound Cemetery. Since 1835 the city has been home to Marietta College, a private, nonsectarian liberal arts school with approximately 1,200 students. Leading up to the American Civil War, the city was a station on the Underground Railroad.


Marietta is located at 39°25′15″N 81°27′2″W / 39.42083°N 81.45056°W / 39.42083; -81.45056 (39.420824, -81.450506).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.75 square miles (22.66 km2), of which 8.43 square miles (21.83 km2) is land and 0.32 square miles (0.83 km2) is water.

The Muskingum River and Duck Creek flow into the Ohio River at Marietta. The area is part of the Appalachian Plateau which covers the eastern half of Ohio. The Appalachian Plateau consists of steep hills and valleys and is the most rugged area in the state. The area is within the ecoregion of the Western Allegheny Plateau. This portion of the state is blessed with beautiful scenery and Ohio's most abundant mineral deposits. [1]


The climate in this area is characterized by humid summers, cold winters, and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Marietta has a Humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfa" on climate maps.



Succeeding Indian cultures lived along the Ohio River and its tributaries for thousands of years. Among them were more than one culture who built earthwork mounds, monuments which generally expressed their cosmology, often with links to astronomical events.

Between 100 BC and AD 500, the Hopewell culture built the multi-earthwork complex on the terrace east of the Muskingum River near its mouth with the Ohio. It is now known as the Marietta Earthworks. Developed over many years, it had a large enclosed square, within which were four platform mounds, used for ceremonial purposes and elite residential; another square, and a larger conical mound used for burials. A walled, graded path led to the river's edge. By the time of the historic tribes, such as the Shawnee, the purposes and makers of the monuments were no longer known.


French explorers entered this area in the 17th century, and in 1749 buried numerous leaden plates to mark their claim to the Ohio Country (which they called the Illinois Territory, as they had more settlements near the Mississippi River.) They later ceded their territory east of the Mississippi to Great Britain after the French and Indian War. Two of their plates were discovered in the Marietta area in 1798, and one was replicated for what is known as the French monument, erected in the 20th century. (See photo at right.)

In 1770, the future U.S. president George Washington, then a surveyor, began exploring large tracts of land west of his native Virginia. During the Revolutionary War, Washington told his friend General Rufus Putnam of the beauty he had seen in his travels through the Ohio Valley and of his ideas for settling the territory.

After the American Revolutionary War, the United States sold or granted large tracts of land to stimulate development in this area. Marietta was founded by settlers from New England who were investors in the Ohio Company of Associates. It was the first of numerous New England settlements in what was then the Northwest Territory. These New Englanders, or "Yankees" as they were called, were descended from the Puritan English colonists who had settled New England in the 1600s and were primarily Congregationalists. The first church constructed in Marietta was a Congregationalist church, founded around 1786. Before the mid-1790s services were held at the fort or in Munsell's Hall at nearby Point Harmar. In 1798 the Muskingum Academy was built on the site of the 19th century Marietta Congregationalist Church. The academy building served for both educational and religious purposes.

In the summer of 1781, John Carpenter built Carpenter's Fort, or Carpenter's Station as it was sometimes called, a fortified house above the mouth of Short Creek on the Ohio side of the Ohio River, near present-day Marietta.

After the war, the newly formed United States had little cash but plenty of land. Eager to develop additional lands, the new government decided to pay veterans of the Revolution with warrants for land in the Northwest Territory, which was organized under federal authority in 1787 by the Northwest Ordinance. Competing states had agreed to end their claims to the lands; Pennsylvania and Virginia received some lands in a settlement. Arthur St. Clair was appointed by the president as governor of the new territory.

The Ohio Company of Associates had supported provisions in the ordinance to allow veterans to use their warrants to purchase the land. They bought 1.5 million acres (6,100 km²) of land from Congress. On April 7, 1788, 48 men of the Ohio Company of Associates, led by General Putnam, arrived at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers. The site was on the east side of the Muskingum River, across from Fort Harmar, a military outpost built three years prior.

Bringing with them the first government sanctioned by the US for this area, they established the first permanent United States settlement in the Northwest Territory. (Older European settlements in the Northwest Territory region include Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, 1668; Detroit, 1701; Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, 1720; and Vincennes, Indiana, 1732, all settled by ethnic French colonists from Canada.) The Americans named Marietta in honor of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, who had aided the colonies in their battle for independence from Great Britain.

The Indians were unhappy to see white settlers moving into their territory. The latter immediately started construction of two forts: Campus Martius, whose former site is now occupied by the museum of the same name, and Picketed Point Stockade, at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers. At the same time, the settlers started developing their community, platted according to plans they had made in Boston.

Campus Martius fort at Marietta, with conical Great Mound visible in background to right of tree
Picketed Point stockade at Marietta

In 1788, George Washington said,

"No colony in America was ever settled under such favorable auspices as that which has just commenced at the Muskingum...If I was a young man, just preparing to begin the world, or if advanced in life and had a family to make provision for, I know of no country where I should rather fix my habitation...".

The families of the settlers began arriving within a few months. By the end of 1788, 137 people populated the area.

In 1789, the United States signed the Treaty of Fort Harmar with several Indian tribes that occupied areas of the Northwest Territory, to settle issues related to trade, as well as the boundary between their lands and United States settlement. The US did not address the Indians' major grievance about American settlers moving into their lands, particularly in the Western Reserve, where there were disputes over land. Although Congress authorized Governor Arthur St. Clair to give land back to the Indians, he did not do so. Conflict increased as the Indians tried to push the settlers out. After years of warfare in the region, they were defeated. The US signed the Treaty of Greenville (1795) with the Indians, which secured the safety of settlers to leave the forts and develop their farms.

The settlers held services regularly and chartered the first church in 1796. It was a Congregational institution; its charter was unusually inclusive due to the varied religious backgrounds of its members. The congregation constructed the first church building in 1807.

Education was important to the settlers, many of whom had been officers during the Revolution. During that first winter, they began a basic school for the children at Campus Martius. In 1797, settlers founded Muskingum Academy. The town had numerous abolitionists, and Ephraim Cutler was instrumental as a state delegate in 1802 at the state convention in swaying the vote for the state to be free of slavery.

19th century

Townspeople organized and chartered Marietta College in 1835. It was used as a station on the Underground Railroad to help slaves escape from the South. Ohio University was founded earlier in Athens, on land reserved for public education under the Northwest Ordinance.

The settlers preserved the Great Mound, or Conus, by planning their own cemetery around it. They also preserved the two largest platform mounds, which they called Capitolinus and Quadrophenus. The former was developed as the site for the city library. As of 1900, the Mound Cemetery had the highest number of burials of Revolutionary War officers in the nation, indicating the nature of the generation that settled Marietta.

Marietta's location on two major navigable rivers made it ideal for industry and commerce. Boat building was one of the early industries. Artisans built oceangoing vessels and sailed them downriver to the Mississippi and south to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. In less than two decades after settlement, the steamboat had been developed, and was also constructed here. Brick factories and sawmills supplied materials for homes and public buildings. An iron mill, along with several foundries, provided rails for the growing railroad industry; the Marietta Chair Factory made furniture.

Marietta Works Squier and Davis Plate XXVI
1837 Survey of Marietta Earthworks

Interest in the prehistoric culture that built the Marietta Earthworks continued. The complex was surveyed and drawn by Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis, whose large project on numerous prehistoric mounds throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valleys was published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1848 as Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley. It was the first book published by the Smithsonian. Their drawing to the right shows the plan of the original complex, which "included a large square enclosure surrounding four flat-topped pyramidal mounds, another smaller square, and a circular enclosure with a large burial mound at its center." The walled, graded path, called by the settlers the Sacra Via, led from the largest enclosure to the lower river's edge. This pathway was destroyed in 1843 during mid-nineteenth century development.

Railroads and oil

Local development began with the Belpre and Cincinnati Railroad (B&C); it was founded in 1845. It was intended to connect from Belpre, Ohio, the next town downriver, to a planned Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) spur to Parkersburg. But, for years, the Virginia government did not allow the B&O to construct track south of Wheeling. In 1851 developers changed the Ohio state terminus to Marietta and changed the name of the railroad to the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad that year. The right-of-way for an alternate connection to the B&O extended upriver from Marietta to Bellaire, Ohio. The M&C was bankrupt by 1857, but construction of track continued west to reach Cincinnati. The first through-train from Cincinnati ran on April 9, 1857. The M&C got out of bankruptcy in 1860.

In 1871, the Ohio Valley Railroad was formed and for the next two years built tracks going north for 103 miles. Their home office was in Marietta, with treasurer offices in Pittsburgh. The Ohio Valley railroad was reorganized as the Marietta and Cleveland. The Pennsylvania Railroad in its expansion later purchased the railroad and its right-of-way between Marietta and Bellaire.

Passengers traveling between Marietta and Parkersburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) had to take a steamboat for the 14 miles between the two towns and transfer. With help from the B&O and the Baltimore City Council, the Union Railroad finally connected Marietta to Belpre, Ohio in 1860. Later absorbed by the B&O, this section of track is still in operation (2008), with unit coal trains providing most of the traffic.

The planned bridge from Parkersburg across the Ohio River to Belpre was finally built 1868-1870 by the B&O, as part of its main line from Baltimore to St. Louis, Missouri. This cut Marietta off from traffic and trade, although it retained local and Ohio service. In the early 20th century, 24 passenger trains served Marietta each day, most of which ran on the PRR tracks.

William P. Cutler was a major figure in the M&C. He also backed the Union Railroad and the Marietta, Columbus and Cleveland Railroad, among other local railroads. Cutler served as General Manager and as President of the M&C for many years.

In 1860, oil was first drilled in the Marietta region. Oil booms in 1875 and 1910 made investors rich, who constructed numerous lavish houses in town, of which many still stand. The Dawes brothers of Marietta founded the Pure Oil Company. All four brothers became nationally prominent businessmen and/or politicians: Charles Gates Dawes, Rufus C. Dawes, Beman Gates Dawes and Henry May Dawes. Charles Dawes was elected in 1924 with President Calvin Coolidge to serve as the 30th Vice President of the United States (1925-1929). In 1925, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize, based on his work on the Dawes Plan and relieving an international crisis in 1923 related to German reparations after World War I.

In 1880, the first Putnam Street Bridge was opened to connect Marietta to Fort Harmar. It provided the first free crossing of the Muskingum.

20th century

As transportation advanced along railroads and highways, Marietta was initially passed by. From 1868-1870, the B & O Railroad built a bridge to connect Parkersburg, West Virginia and Belpre; and the National Road went further north through Zanesville.

But, the Pennsylvania Railroad expanded in the late 19th century and had a station in Marietta, running 26 daily trains between Marietta and Pittsburgh. After WWII passenger service decreased as the railroads restructured and the federal government invested in highway construction. The last rail passenger service ended in 1953. Marietta was relatively isolated from new travel routes until 1967, when I-77 was opened with close access to the city.

Before the United States entered the Great War, a group of 23 young men went from Marietta College to serve in French in 1917 as an ambulance unit; four died in battle. In 1937-1938, during the US celebration of the Northwest Territory, France gave a plaque to the city of Marietta, which was installed on the French monument, to commemorate these young men and their service. (See photo at right.)

In 1939, the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen was established in Marietta during the Great Depression to celebrate the city's substantial river history and its people. Two years later the Ohio River Museum was opened. In 1972, the museum campus was totally redesigned.




Interstate 77 runs east of Marietta connecting it to Cleveland, Ohio, to the north and Charleston, West Virginia, to the south.

State Routes

Five state routes run through Marietta. These are: Ohio State Route 7, Ohio State Route 60, Ohio State Route 26, Ohio State Route 550, and Ohio State Route 676.


Marietta is served by Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport in Williamstown, West Virginia, which has three flights a day Monday through Friday from Charlotte Douglas International Airport.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 321
1810 463 44.2%
1820 746 61.1%
1830 1,207 61.8%
1840 1,814 50.3%
1850 3,175 75.0%
1860 4,323 36.2%
1870 5,218 20.7%
1880 5,444 4.3%
1890 8,273 52.0%
1900 13,348 61.3%
1910 12,923 −3.2%
1920 15,140 17.2%
1930 14,285 −5.6%
1940 14,543 1.8%
1950 16,006 10.1%
1960 16,847 5.3%
1970 16,861 0.1%
1980 16,467 −2.3%
1990 15,026 −8.8%
2000 14,515 −3.4%
2010 14,085 −3.0%

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 14,085 people, 5,828 households, and 3,215 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,670.8 inhabitants per square mile (645.1/km2). There were 6,519 housing units at an average density of 773.3 per square mile (298.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.9% White, 1.3% African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.4% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.1% of the population.

There were 5,828 households, of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.9% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 44.8% were non-families. 37.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.80.

The median age in the city was 39 years. 18.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 16% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.1% were from 25 to 44; 25.7% were from 45 to 64; and 18.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.9% male and 53.1% female.

Notable events

2007 Sternwheeler Festival
2007 Sternwheel Festival
  • Since 1975, the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival has been held on the weekend after Labor Day in September. 2021 was the 45th annual event, which attracts dozens of Sternwheelers to the banks of the Ohio River near downtown Marietta. The Festival includes performances from musical artists, Sternwheel races, and a large fireworks display; it attracts tens of thousands of visitors from across the country.
  • The Riverfront Roar powerboat races are held annually in July. The event includes Formula 2 and Formula 3 powerboat racing along the Ohio River.
  • Marietta Civil War Reenactment is also held at the end of September. It includes Union and Confederate reenactors battling across the scenic Muskingum River.
  • A number of rowing regattas are held throughout the spring. Chief among them Marietta High School's Ralph Lindamood Memorial Regatta and the Marietta Invitational Regatta hosted by Marietta College, which brings some of the nation's fastest college rowing programs to the Muskingum River. In the fall season, the "Head of the Muskingum" head race is held, again drawing rowing teams from across the country. The race is run over a 3–3.5 mile course starting in Devola, Ohio and ending at Marietta College's Lindamood-Van Voorhis Boathouse.
  • The 2016 Ohio State of the State address was held at People's Bank Theater on April 6. The speech was given by governor John Kasich.

Sister cities


Marietta is home of the longest-running ferromanganese refinery in North America, Eramet Marietta Industries Inc., the only ferromanganese refinery in the United States until recently, and leader in Manganese emissions.


As of 2021, the Marietta City School District operates three elementary schools (two preK-2nd and one 3rd-6th), and one building that houses a middle/high school, Marietta High School. Phillips Elementary and Washington Elementary house the preK-2nd grades. The elementary school that houses 3rd-6th grades is located in the building that was previously the middle school.

Marietta has a public library, a branch of the Washington County Public Library.

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