Columbus, Olio, a growing state capital in the heart of the heartland,
The City of Columbus Plans is working to create a maritime mood as part of its quincentennial celebration of Christopher Columbus’s first transatlantic voyage.
Citizens and businesses are contributing millions to fund a series of events and attractions between the Columbus Days of 1991 and 1992.
Included are a replica of the Santa Maria and a $93 million international horticultural exhibition. Residents of America’s coastal states often puzzle over these plans.
The city of Columbus is, after all, a good day’sdrive from the nearest seacoast and a thousand miles from the northernmost land ever reached in the Columbian voyages. Its only port is Port Columbus, the municipal airport.
But, it is also the largest city in the world named for the Italian mariner, and local leaders are not about to let the quincentennial pass them by on its way to Seville, Genoa or even New York.
It’s not clear why Columbus, built at the confluence of the mostly non-navigable Scioto and Olentangy Rivers, was named after the sea-going explorer who never set foot on North American soil.
Perhaps the Honorable Joseph Foos, a member of the Ohio General Assembly in 1812,
when the state’s capital was carved out of the forest admired the Admiral’s ingenuity and perseverance.
Or, perhaps, Mr. Foos had the state’s maritime history in mind when he suggested the city be named Columbus. Beginning with the launching of the St. Clair in Marietta in 1800,
square rigged ship building was a healthy but short-lived industry, with 31 vessels built at yards along the Ohio River,
most of them within a few years of the St. Clair. John Riley, manager or the Ohio River Museum in Marietta tells us:
“They would send them down the river, and fit them out and step the masts at New Orleans.
The City of Columbus Plans for Quincentenary Then they would load them with cargo and ship them out.”
President Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807 quickly took the wind out of Ohio ship builders’ sails, but within a decade the Ohio River was busy again, as shipyards turned to building sternand side-wheelers for the river trade.
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