May is “Drive Ohio Byways” Month
The Ohio Department of Transportation and Tourism Ohio are reminding travelers of the many unique opportunities to explore Ohio on one of the 27 Scenic Byways in the state.
“We here in Steubenville are close to the longest byway in Ohio,” explained Judy Bratten, Assistant Director of Historic Fort Steuben and the Visitor Center. “Route 7 is part of the Ohio River Scenic Byway, a road that continues along the river from East Liverpool to Cincinnati and then on through Indiana and Illinois. The award-winning Visitor Center here was designed and constructed for travelers on the byway with funds from the Federal Highway Administration. The Center has maps and brochures about sites along the byway to make the trip as interesting as possible.”
Each road or series of roads that are designated as an official scenic byway must meet various criteria: there must be significant natural, historical, archaeological, cultural, scenic, and recreational qualities that should be accessible, preserved, and enhanced. Each byway has an organization that is charged with maintaining, managing, and marketing the byway, ensuring that it retains its unique qualities. Scenic byway organizations limit billboards and signage, work with local officials in development, ensure the accuracy of maps and signage, and try to keep the public informed and engaged. The Ohio River Scenic Byway is managed by Ohio River Trails, headquartered at the Steubenville Visitor Center.
“People in the area may see the Ohio River Scenic Byway signs as they drive down Rt. 7, but they may not realize all the planning and work that goes into qualifying a road as a state or national Scenic Byway,” Bratten added. “Of course, nature will have her way as we have seen with the many rockslides along the route or the trees and brush that often block views of the River. And major interruptions can occur such as when the new bridge spanning the river from Wellsburg, WV to Brilliant, OH is being installed. Our byway committee is tasked with keeping track of these changes and to work with the responsible entities to correct or adjust for them.”
The Ohio River Scenic Byway travels through industrial areas, farmland, the Wayne National Forest, small towns with quaint village squares, and historic cities such as Steubenville, Marietta, and Cincinnati.
“With 452 miles of incredible scenery and cultural attractions as well as spectacular views of the awesome Ohio River, you can easily make a three or four day mini-vacation on the Ohio River Scenic Byway,” said Bratten. “In many ways, traveling the Ohio River Scenic Byway is like exploring historic America, from its industrial cities to its charming river towns via the paths of pioneers and presidents. Not only does the Byway follow the path of explorers, adventurers, patriots and abolitionists, the verdant heartland trail passes through the birthplaces of three US presidents, prehistoric Indian sites, and ancient earthworks as well as the beautiful Wayne National Forest. Families could include a trip along the Byway as an educational experience as well as a fun vacation.”
Seven Ohio Scenic Byways spring off the Ohio River Scenic Byway, allowing drivers to explore other roads and areas with distinct characteristics. The Ohio Department of Transportation has maps, information, and links to each of the Byways that crisscross the state. Ohio Byways | Ohio Department of Transportation
“Our Byway has its own website and Facebook page which we encourage people to check out, add photos and comments, and then get involved in helping us maintain and promote this project,” Bratten said.
For more information, go to www.ohioriverscenicbyway.org or contact the Steubenville Visitor Center, 120 S. 3rd Street, Steubenville.