Thinking Citizen Blog — Great Rivers of the World XVI: the Ohio River — Massacres, Escapes, Pollution
Thinking Citizen Blog — Wednesday is Climate Change, the Environment, and Sustainability Day
Today’s Topic — Great Rivers of the World XVI: the Ohio River — Massacres, Escapes, Pollution
During the 18th and early 19th century, the Ohio was known as the “bloody river” because of the many conflicts between the British, the French, settlers, and Native Americans. Later the Ohio got the name the “River Jordan” for slaves seeking freedom by escaping northward. With the industrialization of the late 19th and 20th centuries, the river has become one of the most polluted in the country. Today, some basics. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
FROM PITTSBURGH TO THE MISSISSIPPI
1. 981 miles long, the third-largest river of the US by discharge volume.
2. Begins at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh.
3. Forms the border between Kentucky and three states (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio) and between Ohio and West Virginia.
NB: Thomas Jefferson’s opinion (1781): “The Ohio is the most beautiful river on earth. Its current gentle, waters clear, and bosom smooth and unbroken by rocks and rapids, a single instance only excepted.”
“THAT DARK AND BLOODY RIVER” + THE RIVER JORDAN
1. The British and French fought Native Americans and then they fought each other with Native American allies culminating in the “French and Indian War,” 1754–1763)).
2. In the 19th century, American pioneers and Native Americans fought and massacred each other.
3. Thousands of slaves crossed the Ohio to reach freedom as part of the Underground Railroad. This story was told most consequentially in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” which had a huge role in rousing Northern sentiment against slavery. The river is also featured prominently in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
NB: Above — depiction of Eliza, the slave, and her son crossing the frozen Ohio River.
ONE OF THE MOST POLLUTED RIVERS IN THE UNITED STATES
1. According to the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, the most polluted river in the US since 2001.
2. “The Commission found that 92% of toxic discharges were nitrates including farm runoff and wastewater from industrial processes like steel production.” (see first link)
3. “The Commission also noted mercury pollution as an ongoing concern, citing a 500% increase in mercury discharges between 2007 and 2013.”
NB: The photo above depicts the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois. Other cities along its course include Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, Evansville, Indiana, and Huntington, West Virginia.
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to climate change or the environment. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to climate change that the rest of us may have missed. Your favorite chart or table perhaps…
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.