Paddling along for all

Paddling along for all

Portsmouth launches Ohio River Way

By Adam Black

PORTSMOUTH — With a three, two, one and a push-off the bank, the first Ohio River Way team started its inaugural journey to Louisville, Kentucky.

To kick off the newly formed Ohio River Way, residents, councilmembers and adventurists met at the Portsmouth Riverfront.

Travelers started their 250-mile journey on May 31 from Portsmouth and ended in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 9.

Along their way, the two canoes stopped at several riverfront cities to launch the Ohio River Way in each area.

“This connects Portsmouth with cities along the Ohio River all the way down to Louisville,” Portsmouth Mayor Sean Dunne said. “It took a group of people like this to bring together different states and different cities to show that the Ohio River is something we really want to emphasize in our cities.”

To celebrate the launch of the Ohio River Way, Dunne announced that he would be joining adventurers along the route for five days in one of the two 30-foot-long voyager canoes.

“To show our appreciation and to also have some fun for the next few days, I’ll be joining everybody, and I’ll be in the canoes for the next five days,” Dunne said.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Ohio River Way co-founders Brewster Rhoads and David Wicks shared what it meant to them to see their dream come to life and to set out on the first trip.

“David Wicks and I are the co-founders of this, we are both volunteers, both river rats, and we just love this incredible river,” Rhoads said. “We are proud of what we have here and the assets that communities like you all have for people like us who love outdoor recreation.”

Rhoads shared that he, along with his team, is working hard to develop a nationally recognized destination for adventure tourism. He hopes that doing so will bring adventurers from all over the country to the area and make the 250-mile trip down the Ohio River.

“Where else in America can you paddle, fish, water ski, hike, bike, and camp while touring Underground Railroad and Native American sites, historic river towns, 19th-century architecture, picturesque Main Streets, farmers’ markets and dozens of breweries, wineries and distilleries?” Rhoads said.

“There is no other place in America where you can have those kinds of experiences combined with outdoor recreational opportunities. Our job is to promote the heck out of it as we launch the Ohio River Way.”

After the ceremony, Mayor Dunne was presented with the sign of the Ohio River Way that includes the community’s name and the mile marker. After receiving the sign, Dunne, Rhoads, Wicks, and the many members preparing to make the 250-mile paddle cut the ribbon, officially launching the Ohio River Way.

Ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held in other cities, including:

Ohio — Manchester Island, Ripley, Chilo, New Richmond, and Cincinnati

Kentucky — Vanceburg, Maysville, Augusta, Covington, Boone’s Landing, Carrollton, Westport and Louisville

Indiana — Aurora, Rising Sun, Vevay, and Madison

The Ohio River Way team presented each town with customized metal wayfinding signs for placement at every boat ramp from Portsmouth to Louisville Ky.

“There were three major forces behind this: the political aspect with ribbon-cutting and public officials getting involved, the intellectual aspect of learning more about the river and river communities, and recreation,” Dunne said. “This was a lot of fun. And it establishes Portsmouth as part of a region. We can now see how interconnected we are to other river cities. We can now see we have good leisure activities here. And we can use this to encourage visitors.”

Salt Magazine