Falls of the Ohio River

Where we are and where we have been:

We went jacks down at the KOA in downtown Clarksville, Indiana around 3:30.  Normally a downtown campground would not be to our liking, much less a KOA.  This one advertised that it was the closest to downtown Louisville and for our purposes was within a few minutes of the Ohio River Falls and Canal Locks.   It turned out to be a great choice.

We found a city park bordering the river and enjoyed watching barges being pushed up and down the river by tugs, speed boats and skiers enjoying the warm weather and the Belle of Louisville River Boat anchored across the river in Louisville.

Two barges meeting at the mouth of the canal

Widow's Peak Salon & Ice Cream Parlor

With ice cream cones from the Widow’s Peak Salon and a great shady bench, we passed an enjoyable hour people and boat watching.




On one of our visits to the river we arrived in time to hear the river boat pumping out a medley of tunes on its steam Calliope entertaining the entire downtown river area, ending in My Old Kentucky Home.  It wasn’t long before it took passengers off on a trip up the river.

River Boat

On another outing we explored the falls area and listened to a docent describing how the area was once a shallow sea, resulting in layers of fossils in the area. The instructional center has a large platform that overlooks the river, falls and fossil beds.  With the construction of the canal and locks, barge traffic moves around the rapids and low water falls that once caused problems.

Some boats in harbor - looks like a fun outing

We drove the Old Ohio River Byway for several miles seeing lots of industry on the river, and some very beautiful homes.  I found the “sea wall” interesting.

Look where the gate locks in

War Memorial


For several miles through town a six foot concrete wall has been constructed, in case of a flood, with places for secure doors to be put in place to close the openings for roads traversing it.

The literature that I read said that the Ohio rarely floods, but in 1997 there was a significant one, so the wall could be useful.  The interesting thing is that it was quite a distance from the river.  The river front mansions along the byway were outside of the wall — the price of a view??.

Let me back up a minute.  Louisville is on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River and Clarksville is directly across the river in Indiana. Twin cities as it were.  The cities are situated at the one place along the entire stretch of the Ohio that was not navigable.  At this point rapids and falls caused barge traffic to leave the long river and portage the goods around the falls before resuming their float towards the Mississippi River and in time Natchez (remember the Natchez Trace from an earlier blog?)  It wasn’t until the early 20th century that a canal and locks were installed to allow shipping to go around the falls.

Ohio River rapids

Fossil Beds

Louis & Clark Memorial

Clarksville is named for American Revolutionary War General George Rogers Clark, who settled this point of land on the Ohio River. He was the brother of William Clark, of Louis and Clark.  Actually, Louis and Clark met here and recruited and trained the team that would accompany them on their journey from around the area.  A replica log cabin is near the falls on the site where Louis is said to have lived during his stay here.

After a couple of days researching the Ohio River, we continued on our way.

Along the road





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