Geography and Landforms:

During the past two million years, glaciers have shaped and reshaped the surface of Ohio several times. These continental masses of ice affected as much as two-thirds of the state. Moving from the north and northwest, glaciers have scraped and flattened the landscape. Often more than a mile thick, they smoothed existing hills and filled valleys with enormous amounts of rocks, gravel, and smaller particles.

Through these actions, glaciers have had a very important impact on the agriculture of Ohio. Their activity has been felt in two noticeable ways: shaping the ground upon which people work and build, and forming the soils that cover that ground. One of the most dramatic remains of glaciers in Ohio can be seen at the Glacial Grooves State Memorial on Kelley's Island in Lake Erie. Rocks and gravel embedded in the glacial ice ground away rock leaving scratches and grooves in the bedrock. The part of Ohio that was covered by glaciers includes about two-thirds of the northern and western parts of the state. Most of southeastern Ohio was not covered by glaciers. In glaciated Ohio, the surface of the land usually is fairly level or gently rolling. On the other hand, steep ridges, hills and shaded valleys, characterize unglaciated Ohio.


When European explorers first arrived in the area now known as Ohio in the late 1600s, they found Delaware, Shawnee, Wyandot, and Miami Indian tribes living there. Frenchman Rene-Robert Cavelier explored the Ohio region in 1670 and is believed to be the first white man to visit the area. In 1750, the Ohio Company of Virginia sent Christopher Gist to explore Ohio in preparation for the settlement of British colonists. Therefore, both the French and the British believed they held claim to Ohio. These disputes over land in North America started the French and Indian Wars, which ended in 1763 with the British in control of most land in North America. One of the provisions of the Treaty of Paris, which concluded the French and Indian War, was that the British would prohibit settlement of the areas west of the Alleghany Mountains, including Ohio. However, Europeans were hungry for land and resources. They continued to push their settlements further and further west in violation of the treaty. This continued to cause trouble with the native occupants of the land and was one of the issues that led to the Revolutionary War.

After the Revolutionary War, the Northwest Territory was established in 1787. On April 7, 1788, the town of Marietta was founded, and it became the first permanent white settlement in Ohio. Indian raids continued, however, until the defeat of the natives in the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The Treaty of Greenville that followed gave the United States land that accounts for almost two-thirds of present-day Ohio. Thousands of settlers came to the region and soon Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and Youngstown were established.

Ohio became the 17th state on March 1, 1803. Chillicothe was the first state capital, followed by Zanesville in 1810, then Chillicothe again, and finally Columbus in 1816. River trade along the Ohio River developed after the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Products could be shipped down the Ohio to the Mississippi River, then all the way to New Orleans. The first steamboat, New Orleans, went down the river in 1811.

An important naval victory, the Battle of Lake Erie, was fought off the Ohio shore during the War of 1812. American ships defeated a much larger fleet of British naval vessels. In 1825, the Erie Canal opened. In 1832, the Ohio and Erie Canal connected Cleveland and Portsmouth, Ohio. The Miami and Erie Canal connected Toledo and Cincinnati in 1845. Many mills and factories were built between 1830 and 1860 because canals and railroads had created much faster trade routes.

During the Civil War, Ohio fought on the side of the Union but the people of the state had mixed feelings toward slavery. Many helped in the "Underground Railroad" to smuggle slaves to Canada. Others with sympathies toward the South organized the Peace Democrats Party in opposition to President Lincoln. In 1863 a group of Confederate cavalry actually raided Ohio, but the attack was completely unsuccessful.

After the Civil War, Ohio's industry expanded rapidly. Benjamin Goodrich opened a rubber plant in Akron. John D. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in Cleveland. Ohio became a top manufacturing state of machinery and furniture. With the growth of the iron and steel industries, shipping of coal and iron ore on Lake Erie increased, and farming continued to be a leading industry.

When the Great Depression hit the nation in 1929, nearly half the workers in Ohio lost their jobs. A federal agency, Works Progress Administration, created jobs by constructing dams and other public facilities. The outbreak of World War II in 1941 also helped to end the Depression. Ohio factories produced airplanes, warships, and weapons. Industry continued to expand following World War II. In 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and creating international trade for eight Ohio cities on Lake Erie. Aluminum plants and chemical factories were built along the Ohio River.


Ohio is located in the heart of the country's industrial region. More than 60 percent of all U.S. households live within 600 miles of Ohio. There is access to strategic waterways, and the state is well served by interstate highways. Ohio has the seventh largest state economy in the U.S., and ranks third in manufacturing gross state product. The state's factories lead the nation in the production of steel, rubber and plastics, and fabricated metals. Ohio is also a leader in the automotive industry.

As a state economy, Ohio's number one sector is manufacturing at 24%. Service industries make up nearly 20% of the state economy, and financial, insurance and real estate concerns represent around 18%. Ohio is a national leader in research and development, ranking 9th in the number of individuals receiving patents, and 11th in the receipt of research and development grants.

First Inhabitants:

The hunting and gathering peoples who originally discovered the Americas were called Paleo-Indians. They lived in Ohio in the last centuries of the Ice Age. They hunted now-extinct species of big game animals such as mammoth and mastodon. They also hunted deer and small game, fished, and gathered nuts and fruit when available. The earliest Paleo-Indian culture discovered in Ohio is the Clovis culture which occupied the area from around 9500--8000 BC. They are known as the Clovis culture because of the distinctive shape of their spear points. The culture probably was centered in present-day New Mexico and migrated eastward. In Ohio, they found important sources of flint for their weapons and tools.

As the weather warmed toward the end of the Ice Age, the formerly nomadic groups began to settle down and build more permanent structures and store resources over the winter seasons. Their tools became more sophisticated, and they used axes to create dugout canoes. They also designed spear throwers called "atl atl" to be able to hunt more effectively.

Around 800 BC, tribes began to cultivate crops, design pottery and settle into villages. Archaeologists refer to these tribes as "Woodland" cultures. The people of these groups also built burial mounds to commemorate their dead. Two of these mounds in Ohio are called "Serpent Mound" and "Alligator Mound" because of the way they are shaped. The earliest of these Woodland cultures are called the Adena people. After these people came a group called the Hopewell people, and finally, a group called the late Woodland people. The late Woodland groups cultivated corn and sunflowers and used bows and arrows for hunting.

Beginning around 1650 AD, the powerful Iroquois tribe drove out the other native tribes from Ohio. The Iroquois had already hunted most of the beaver from areas in the East, and moved into Ohio in search of more furs to trade with Europeans. The Iroquois were in turn driven out by the Shawnee, Delaware, Wyandot, and Miami tribes, which were probably the tribes present in the Ohio area when European settlers first arrived.

Books Related To Ohio

Famous Citizens:

Neil Armstrong
Born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, Neil Armstrong was the first astronaut to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. A Naval aviator, test pilot and aerospace engineer, Armstrong made the famous statement, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Thomas Edison
Born in Milan, Ohio, Thomas Edison is the only American inventor with more than 1,000 patents. Some of his most famous inventions include the light bulb, the phonograph and the stock ticker.

James A. Garfield
James Garfield was born on a frontier farm in Cuyahoga County, Ohio in 1831. While President of Hiram College, Garfield was elected to Ohio senate in 1859 and served as an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War. At the 1880 Republican Nation Convention, Garfield became a "dark horse" nominee on the thirty-sixth ballot. He went on to win the election by a margin of only 10,000 popular vote and became the twentieth president. Less than 4 months after his inauguration, Garfield was shot by a disgruntled office-seeker while waiting for a train in Washington, DC. He never recovered from the wound and died on September 19, 1881, at the age of 49.

Ulysses Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was born at Point Pleasant, Ohio. He entered the military academy at West Point in 1839. When the Mexican War began in 1844, Grant was sent to the southwestern frontier and fought under General Zachary Taylor. He won praise and promotions for his skill and bravery but he resigned from the Army in 1854 when he found it nearly impossible to support his wife and family on a military salary. When the Civil War began in 1861, Grant accepted command of the 21st Illinois Regiment. Within five years, he had become the most celebrated general in the nation's history. At the Republican Convention in 1868, he was unanimously nominated as their presidential candidate and became the nation's eighteenth president in 1869. He was reelected for a second term in 1873.

Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding was born on his family's farm near Marion, Ohio. After working as a reporter for the Marion Star, Harding purchased the newspaper and became its owner, publisher, and editor. At the age of 35 Harding began his political career. He served in the Ohio State Senate from 1900-1904, was lieutenant governor from 1904-1906, and even made an unsuccessful bid for governor. In 1914, he was elected to the US Senate.

At the Republican National Convention in 1920, Harding was nominated on the tenth ballot with Calvin Coolidge as his running mate. He won the election by an unprecedented 60% of the popular vote. But his presidency was marred by a long series of bribery scandals involving members of his cabinet.

Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third President of the United States, was born on a farm at North Bend Ohio. His grandfather William Henry Harrison was the ninth president of the United States. Harrison was defeated in his run for governor of Indiana in 1876, but was elected to one term in the US Senate in 1881. At the 1888 Republican Convention in Chicago, he was selected to run against Grover Cleveland. Cleveland won the popular vote, but Harrison won the election with a majority of electoral votes.
As president, Harrison signed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, a piece of legislation designed to limit the growth of monopolies and trusts. During his administration, Congress adopted the first billion-dollar budget in American history.

Rutherford B. Hayes
Born in Delaware, Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes fought in the Civil War, was wounded in action, rose to the rank of brigadier general in 1864, and received a promotion to major general a year later. While he was still in the Army, Cincinnati Republicans nominated him for the House of Representatives. Between 1867 and 1876 he served three terms as Governor of Ohio.
Hayes was nominated as the Republican candidate for President in 1876 against Samuel Tilden, governor of New York, and was elected the 19th President of the United States.

William McKinley
William McKinley was born in Niles, Ohio. McKinley's political career began at age 34 when he won a seat in Congress. The Republican Party needed a strong candidate to run against William Jennings Bryan in 1896. McKinley was nominated and won the election, becoming the twenty-fifth president of the United States.
In February of 1898, McKinley sent a single battleship, The Maine, to Cuba to protect Americans living there. The ship was destroyed by a submarine mine and 266 American lives were lost. On April 11, 1898, McKinley asked congress to declare war for the liberation and independence of Cuba.
The conflict came to end on December 10, 1898 with a peace treaty signed in Paris. Cuba was granted independence from Spain, and Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines were given to the United States.
In 1900, McKinley won a second presidential election against William Jennings Bryan. But his second term came to a tragic end in September 1901. He was standing in a receiving line at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition when an assassin fired two bullets into him. He died eight days later.

William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father had served as secretary of war and as attorney general during President Grant's administration. At the end of the Spanish-American War when the Philippines were given up to the United States, President McKinley appointed Taft governor of the islands. Taft ran against Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan and was elected twenty-seventh president of the Unites States in 1908. At 6'2'' and more than 300 pounds, Taft was the largest man to ever serve as president.
After leaving the While House, Taft served as Professor of Law at Yale. In 1921, President Harding appointed him Chief Justice of the United States. He resigned his position in February of 1930 because of illness and died one month later.

Wilbur and Orville Wright
Born in Indiana and Dayton, Ohio. The Wright brothers operated a bicycle shop in Dayton, but they earned fame when their airplane was the first to sustain flight.

Capital: Columbus
Entered Union: March 1, 1803
Population: 11,594,163
Area 44,825
Bird Cardinal
Flower Scarlet Carnation
Nickname: Buckeye State
Governor John Kasich

Places to Visit in Ohio: (Click the links to learn more.)

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - Cleveland
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, contains interactive exhibits, films, videos, and artifacts related to the history of rock and roll music.

The Cleveland Museum of Art - Cleveland
Cleveland's art museum is a world-class collection of artwork - ancient to contemporary - from around the world. The museum's collections of Japanese art and French impressionist paintings are particularly noteworthy. General admission is free.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame - Canton
The Pro Football Hall of Fame honors great players across the history of pro football. Exhibits feature players, the history of the game, records and record-holders, and recently added a total sensory experience through sound and video that gives visitors the feel of being in the game.

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park - Chillicothe
The Hopewell culture existed in the Ohio River Valley from around 200 BC to 500 AD, and is characterized by the construction of mounds and earthen walls built in geometric patterns. Located in Chillicothe, the park includes archeological exhibits related to the Hopewell culture.

Center of Science & Industry - Columbus
The Center of Science and Industry is a hands-on science center including exhibits on astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, and meteorology. Visitors can embark on an archaeological expedition, discover the depths of the ocean, explore space, and lots more.