Portsmouth is a city in and the county seat of Scioto County, Ohio,
United States. Located in southern Ohio, it lies on the north bank
Ohio River, across from Kentucky, just east of the mouth of the
Scioto River. The population was 20,226 at the 2010 census.
1.2 20th century
1.3 21st century
3.1 2010 census
3.2 2000 census
5.2 County government
7.4 Public transportation
8.1 Colleges and universities
8.2 K-12 schools
9 Prescription Drug Epidemic
10.1 Buildings and landmarks
10.2 Indian Head Rock
10.4 Floods and floodwalls
10.5 Professional sports
11 Notable people
12 Sister cities
13 See also
15 Further reading
16 External links
According to early 20th-century historian Charles Augustus Hanna, a
Shawnee village was founded at the site of modern-day Portsmouth in
late 1758, following the destruction of
Lower Shawneetown by
European-Americans began to settle in the 1790s after the American
Revolutionary War, and the small town of Alexandria was founded.
Located at the confluence, Alexandria was flooded numerous times by
Ohio and the Scioto rivers.
In 1803, Henry Massie found a better location slightly east and
somewhat removed from the flood plains. He began to plot the new city
by mapping the streets and distributing the land. Portsmouth was
founded in 1803 and was established as a city in 1815. It was
designated as the county seat. Settlers left Alexandria, and it soon
Ohio state legislature passed "Black Laws" in 1804 that restricted
movement of free blacks and required persons to carry papers, in an
effort to dissuade blacks from settling in the state. These provisions
were intermittently enforced by local governments and law enforcement,
and sometimes used as an excuse to force African Americans out of
settlements. In 1831, Portsmouth drove out African Americans from the
city under this pretext. Many settled several miles north in what
became known as Huston's Hollow, along the Scioto River. Its
residents, especially Joseph Love and Dan Lucas, provided aid to
refugee slaves in the following years and assisted them in moving
Ohio was dominated in number by anti-abolitionist
settlers from the South, some whites also worked to improve conditions
for blacks and aid refugee slaves. Portsmouth became important in the
antebellum years as part of the Underground Railroad. Fugitive slaves
Kentucky and other parts of the South crossed the
here. Some found their future in Portsmouth; others moved north along
Scioto River to reach Detroit, Michigan, and get further away from
slave catchers. Many continued into Canada to secure their
freedom. A historical marker near the Grant Bridge commemorates
this period of Portsmouth's history. James Ashley of Portsmouth
continued his activism and pursued a political career. After being
elected to Congress, he wrote the Thirteenth Amendment, which
abolished slavery in 1865 after the American Civil War.
Portsmouth quickly developed an industrial base due to its location at
the confluence of the
Ohio and Scioto rivers. Early industrial growth
included having meat packing and shipping facilities for Thomas
Worthington's Chillicothe farm, located north of Portsmouth on the
Scioto River. The city's growth was stimulated by completion of the
Ohio and Erie Canal in the 1820s and 1830s, which provided access
to the Great Lakes, opening up northern markets.
But the construction of the
Norfolk and Western
Norfolk and Western (N&W) railyards
beginning in 1838 and the completion of the Baltimore and Ohio
Railroad (B&O) junction at the city in the late 1850s quickly
surpassed the canal in stimulating growth. The railroads soon carried
more freight than the canal, with the B&O connecting the city to
the Baltimore and Washington, DC markets. By the end of the 19th
century, Portsmouth became one of the most important industrial cities
Ohio River between
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cincinnati,
The city's growth continued. By 1916, during World War I, Portsmouth
was listed as being a major industrial and jobbing center, the
fourth-largest shoe manufacturing center in the country, and the
largest manufacturer of fire and paving bricks in the United States.
Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel (later called Empire-
Detroit Steel) employed
over one thousand people. There were 100 other manufacturing companies
producing goods from furniture to engines.
Such industrial and shipping growth greatly benefited Boneyfiddle (a
west-end neighborhood in Portsmouth), where grand buildings were
constructed with the wealth from the commerce. As time passed, much of
the commerce began to move toward Chillicothe Street, which has
continued as the main thoroughfare of Portsmouth. While Boneyfiddle is
receiving new life, it is a shadow of its former self.
The city population peaked at just over 42,000 in 1930 (see
"Demographics", below). In 1931, the Norfolk Southern Corporation
built a grand, art deco passenger station in Portsmouth, that provided
a substantial entry to the city. It was located at 16th and Findlay
streets. Passengers used the station for access to both insterstate
and intrastate train lines, which provided basic transportation for
many. The widespread availablity of affordable automobiles and
changing patterns resulted in reduction in rail passenger traffic here
and nationally. The station was later used for offices and its keys
were turned over to Scioto County in 2003, and the building was
demolished in 2004.
Suburbanization also affected the city. By the 1950 census, the
population had begun to decline, falling below 40,000. Some of this
change was due to the effects of highway construction, which
stimulated suburban residential development in the postwar years. But
during the late 20th century, foreign competition and industrial
restructuring resulted in the loss of most of the industrial jobs on
which Portsmouth's economy had been based; the jobs were moved out of
the area, with many going overseas.
Further decline occurred in 1980, following the suspension of
operations at Empire
Detroit Steel's Portsmouth Works, which took
place after the sale of the steel plant to Armco Steel. Armco Steel
closed the plant because they did not want to replace the obsolete,
Open Hearth Furnaces with the more efficient basic oxygen steel
furnaces. The plant also needed a continuous caster to replace the
obsolete soaking pits and blooming mill in 1995. When the steel mill
was closed, 1,300 steelworkers were laid off.
As of 2010, Portsmouth has a population of approximately 20,000. It
has shared in the loss of jobs due to unskilled labor outsourcing and
population migration to more populous urban areas.
Despite its relatively small size, Portsmouth has been a regular stop
for recent Presidential campaigns of the 21st century. In September
George W. Bush
George W. Bush visited the city as part of his reelection
campaign. Vice Presidential candidate
John Edwards also visited
Portsmouth that month. The campaigns of 2008 resulted in numerous
candidates and surrogates visiting Portsmouth, and some spoke at
Shawnee State University:
Bill Clinton on behalf of his wife Hillary
Clinton,  Republican candidate John McCain,  and US Senator
Barack Obama, who won the election. In 2012, candidate Mitt Romney
Shawnee State University. In March 2016, Bill Clinton
visited Portsmouth again to campaign for his wife, presidential
candidate Hillary Clinton.
Portsmouth, and other parts of Scioto County, have worked to redevelop
blighted properties and create a new economy. After the Scioto County
Port Authority secured an initial $30,000 grant from the Scioto
Foundation, the Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation received
$2.725 million from the
Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) through the
Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP). Along with adapting disused
residential properties, Portsmouth has begun the process of
transforming abandoned industrial and commercial properties to other
Its industrial past resulted in environmental problems at some sites.
Portsmouth was one of 172 communities to receive 279 grants totaling
$56.8 million in
Brownfields funding through the Environmental
Protection Agency’s Assessment and Cleanup Grants. The Southern Ohio
Port Authority (SOPA) received grant funding in 2017 of $300,000 as
part of a program offered through the
EPA in an effort to cleanup
former industrial sites for other uses. These funds provide aid to
under-served and economically disadvantaged communities through the
assessment and cleanup of abandoned industrial and commercial
properties. They expand the ability of communities to recycle vacant
and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses.
The city has also initiated new developments in its downtown. The Ohio
Legislature passed House Bill 233 on April 20, 2016 to authorize
cities to create Downtown Redevelopment Districts. They operate
similarly to a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District. The city of
Portsmouth formed a Downtown Redevelopment District (DRD) in 2017 in
the Boneyfiddle neighborhood of the city to increase investment and
Through the early 21st century, there has been a noticeable increase
in investment in Portsmouth's local economy. The Southern
Authority has worked with the Joint Economic Development Initiative of
Ohio (JEDISO) to secure funding for local business. A grant
through JEDISO from the Fluor-BWXT Opportunity was awarded to YEI
Technology, PatterFam Sauces, Tri-America Contractors, Appalachian
Wood Flooring (Phase 1) and Columbia Gas Regional Headquarters. The
grants resulted in 48 jobs created and 225 jobs retained. New
investments and developments in the local economy led to Portsmouth's
inclusion in Site Selection Magazine's "Top 10 Micropolitan areas".
Celina, Defiance and Portsmouth were among a group of cities tied for
10th. Portsmouth attracted nine significant economic development
projects in 2016, nearly as many as it had from 2004-2013
In 2016, Portsmouth was identified as one of the semi-finalists in the
America’s Best Communities competition. In its Community
Revitalization Plan, Portsmouth emphasized using its most valuable
Ohio River, as a key to revitalizing the city. Its goal is
to improve commercial and community access to the Portsmouth
riverfront by making the port a premier regional destination for
industrial development, small business development, and riverfront
The America’s Best Communities competition led to the city
identifying Spartan Municipal Stadium as an invaluable asset for such
development. The city was recently awarded $25,000 in funding
toward its renovation.
The population peaked at just over 42,000 in 1930 (see "Demographics",
below), and by the 1950 census, the population had fallen below
40,000. Foreign competition and industrial restructuring resulted in
most of the industrial jobs on which Portsmouth's economy was based
moving out of the area.
Following these declines, in 1980 when Empire-
Works suspended local operations after the sale of the steel plant to
Armco Steel (now AK Steel). Armco Steel closed the plant because they
did not want to replace the obsolete Open Hearth Furnaces with the
more efficient basic oxygen steel furnaces. The plant also needed a
continuous caster to replace the obsolete soaking pits and blooming
mill in 1995. When the steel mill was closed, 1,300 steelworkers were
laid off. As of 2010, the city has a population of approximately
20,000. It has shared in the loss of jobs due to unskilled labor
outsourcing and population migration to more urban areas.
As of the census of 2010, there were 20,226 people, 8,286
households, and 4,707 families residing in the city. The population
density was 1,885.0 inhabitants per square mile (727.8/km2). There
were 9,339 housing units at an average density of 870.4 per square
mile (336.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.1% White, 5.1%
African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.7% from other
races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race
were 2.2% of the population.
There were 8,286 households out of which 28.5% had children under the
age of 18 living with them, 33.9% were married couples living
together, 17.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.4%
had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.2% were
non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals and
15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The
average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.93.
The median age in the city was 36.1 years. 21.6% of residents were
under the age of 18; 14.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.6%
were from 25 to 44; 24.2% were from 45 to 64; and 16.4% were 65 years
of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.4% male and
As of the census of 2000, there were 20,909 people, 9,120
households, and 5,216 families residing in the city. The population
density was 1,941.4 people per square mile (749.6/km²). There were
10,248 housing units at an average density of 951.5 per square mile
(367.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.50% White, 5.00%
African American, 0.63% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.02% Pacific
Islander, 0.32% from other races, and 1.92% from two or more races.
Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.93% of the population.
There were 9,120 households out of which 25.9% had children under the
age of 18 living with them, 37.9% were married couples living
together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and
42.8% were non-families. 37.3% of all households were made up of
individuals and 17.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age
or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family
size was 2.87.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.0% under the age of
18, 11.3% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and
19.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years.
For every 100 females there were 83.8 males. For every 100 females age
18 and over, there were 78.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $23,004, and the
median income for a family was $31,237. Males had a median income of
$31,521 versus $20,896 for females. The per capita income for the city
was $15,078. About 18.3% of families and 23.6% of the population were
below the poverty line, including 31.1% of those under age 18 and
14.5% of those age 65 or over.
A painting of the confluence of the
Ohio and Scioto rivers, showing
the dissected plateau terrain and the
Carl D. Perkins
Carl D. Perkins Bridge. Artist
Portsmouth is at the confluence of the Ohio, Scioto, and Little Scioto
rivers. It is a midway point among four major cities: Charleston, West
Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; and Lexington, Kentucky, each
of which are approximately ninety miles away (roughly a two-hour
Much of the terrain is quite hilly due to dissected plateau around it.
Both rivers have carved valleys and Portsmouth lies next to both the
Ohio rivers. It is within the ecoregion of the Western
Allegheny Plateau. According to the United States
the city has a total area of 11.07 square miles (28.67 km2), of
which 10.73 square miles (27.79 km2) is land and 0.34 square
miles (0.88 km2) is water.
Sciotoville - located 5 miles (8.0 km) in the eastern part of
Portsmouth off US 52 at
Ohio 335; it is sometimes known as East
Portsmouth, but it is within the city limits, with about 10% of the
city's population living there.
North Moreland - a community within Portsmouth, north of the Village
of New Boston. North Moreland connects the larger western section of
Portsmouth with Sciotoville.
Boneyfiddle - several blocks west of downtown Portsmouth, generally
centered around the Market St./2nd St. intersection
Hilltop - residential neighborhoods in Portsmouth located north of
17th St., west of Thomas Ave and east of Scioto Trail
The city charter was adopted on November 6, 1928. The city conducts
business at their city hall, which was constructed in 1935. City
council meetings are held during the second and fourth weeks in the
month. The city reverted from being run by a city manager to a mayor
in 1988, with the mayor being elected every four years.
In 2012 voters approved returning to a
City Manager/Council form of
government; this took effect in January 2014. Under the City
Manager/Council system, the mayor and vice-mayor are elected members
of the city council who are appointed to their positions by the
council. The city manager is hired by and reports directly to the
council. The city manager oversees the day-to-day operations of city
government and is the direct supervisor of all city department heads.
There are six wards in the city with elections of council members from
the wards every two years.
City Manager is Sam Sutherland.
Jo Ann Aeh
Kevin E. Johnson (Acting Mayor)
Vacant (as of 2/26/2018)
Scioto County Courthouse
Portsmouth is the county seat for Scioto County. The courthouse is
located at the corner of Sixth and Court Streets and was constructed
in 1936. The sheriff's office and county jail, once located in the
courthouse, are located in a new facility, constructed in 2006 at the
former site of the
Norfolk and Western
Norfolk and Western rail depot near U.S. 23.
Bryan K. Davis, Chairman
Cathy E. Coleman
The county commissioners meet twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursdays at
9:30 am in room 107 on the first floor of the Scioto County
Portsmouth major employers include Southern
Ohio Medical Center, Kings
Daughters Medical Center,
Shawnee State University, Norfolk Southern
Ohio Correctional Facility and OSCO
Industries. In November 2002, the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant
in nearby Piketon,
Ohio was recognized as a Nuclear Historic Landmark
by the American Nuclear Society. It had served a military function
from 1952 until the mid-1960s, when the mission changed from enriching
uranium for nuclear weapons to one focused on producing fuel for
commercial nuclear power plants. The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion
Plant ended enriching operations in 2001 and began to support
operational and administrative functions and perform external contract
work. The site is currently being cleaned up for future development by
Graf Brothers Flooring and Lumber, the world's largest manufacturer of
rift and quartered oak products, has two satellite log yards in
Portsmouth, with the company's main office being located across the
river in South Shore, Kentucky. Portsmouth is the home of Sole Choice
Inc., one of the largest manufacturers of shoelaces in the world.
U.S. Grant Bridge
U.S. Grant Bridge crossing the
Ohio River from Portsmouth,
Greenup County, Kentucky.
A nightly view of the newly built
U.S. Grant Bridge
U.S. Grant Bridge carrying U.S. 23
Portsmouth is served by two major U.S. Routes: 23 and 52. Other
significant roads include
Ohio State Routes 73, 104, 139, 140, and
335. The nearest Interstate highway is I-64. Interstate 73 is planned
to use the newly built Portsmouth bypass en route from North Carolina
To Michigan. The I-74 Extension is planned to use US 52 through
Portsmouth, running concurrently with I-73 on the eastern side of
See also: South Portsmouth-South Shore (
Portsmouth is an important location in the Norfolk Southern Railway
network. Norfolk Southern operates a railyard and locomotive
maintenance facility for its long distance shipping route between the
West Virginia and points east, to the Great Lakes.
CSX Transportation operates a former Chesapeake & Ohio
Railway line just east of the city in Sciotoville, which crosses the
Ohio River on the historic Sciotoville Bridge.
Amtrak offers passenger
service to the Portsmouth area on its Cardinal route between New York
City and Chicago. The passenger station is located on CSX
Transportation-owned track in South Shore, Kentucky, across the Ohio
River from Portsmouth.
Portsmouth is served by the
Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport
Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport (PMH),
a general aviation airport. The airport is located in Minford, Ohio,
approximately 12 miles (19 km) northeast of the city. The nearest
commercial airport is
Tri-State Airport (HTS) in Ceredo, West
Virginia, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) outside Huntington, West
Virginia and 53 miles (85 km) southeast of Portsmouth.
Public transportation for Portsmouth and its outlying areas is offered
through Access Scioto County (ASC).
Colleges and universities
Massie Hall is the first and oldest building at
Portsmouth is the home of
Shawnee State University, a public
institution established in 1986. It is Ohio's thirteenth and newest
institution of higher education.
Mural in the new high school of the school mascot Trojans. Artist Herb
Portsmouth has one public and two private school systems (the Notre
Dame schools and the Portsmouth STEM Academy). The Portsmouth City
School District has served the city since its founding in the 1830s
and is the public school in the city. Portsmouth
City School District
is notable having a storied basketball tradition by winning four OSHAA
State Basketball Championships in 1931, 1961, 1978, and 1988. The
Trojan basketball team has made 14 final four appearances, they are
1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1931 (1st), 1934 (2nd), 1939, 1941, 1961
(1st), 1978 (1st), 1980 (2nd), 1988 (1st), 1990 (2nd). and 2012
(2nd). The Trojan football team has also produced some notable teams
as of late with an
Associated Press Division 3 State Championship in
2000, a regional title, and state semi-final appearance in 2000, and
finishing as regional runner up in both 2001, and 2002. In all the
Trojans football team has sent 5 teams to the post season since 2000,
as of the start of the 2009 season.
In 2000, Portsmouth voters passed a much needed school bond issue,
which helped construct new schools for the district. The new schools
opened for the 2006–2007 school year. These schools won the Grand
Prize from School Planning & Management's 2007 Education Design
Showcase. The award is awarded annually to the K-12 school that
displays "excellence in design and functional planning directed toward
meeting the needs of the educational program." In addition,
the school system plans to build a new $10 million athletic
complex. Portsmouth High School has an award-winning Interactive
Media program that has won multiple awards for both video and graphic
design. The class is under the direction of Chris Cole and the
students run the local cable station TNN CH25.
Clark Athletic Complex
In 2009 the school system completed construction on a new $10 million
athletic complex. The 25-acre (10 ha) Clark Athletic Complex
has a new football field, baseball field, softball field, tennis
courts, and track. The complex is named for Clyde and Maycel Clark
of the Clark Foundation, major financial contributors for the
construction of the facility. The new complex, situated on the
site of the former high school building and across the street from the
current high school, has three paintings by mural artist Herb Roe, a
1992 Portsmouth High School alumnus. The murals depict three of
the sports played at the new facility: baseball, tennis, and football.
Portsmouth Notre Dame HS
Notre Dame (Catholic) Schools(formerly Portsmouth Central Catholic HS)
have served the city's Roman Catholics and others since 1852. It is
also notable for its football team, founded in 1929. It won two state
championships in 1967 and 1970.
Prescription Drug Epidemic
Main article: Opioid crisis
We have a very high addiction rates in addition to the death rates. A
lot of young people are addicted. Our treatment facilities are
overwhelmed. The court systems are overwhelmed.
— -Lisa Roberts, registered nurse with the Portsmouth
Since the late 1990s and problems of unemployment, an epidemic of
prescription drug abuse has swept the town and surrounding areas.
It has caused a dramatic increase in
Hepatitis C cases in the
county, drug-related deaths, robberies,
murder, and an increased incidence of children born addicted to
prescription drugs. The most prevalent drug is OxyContin, a
synthetic opiate originally developed as a cancer drug, known
colloquially as oxys and hillbilly heroin (because of the drugs
association with Appalachian areas of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, and West Virginia).
The crisis is blamed on the proliferation of cash-only pain clinics,
known as "pill mills" by locals. According to authorities, there are
eight such clinics in Scioto County alone, the largest
concentration of such operations per capita in any of Ohio's
counties. The clinics began opening in the late 1990s, after state
legislators passed a law stating that doctors could not be prosecuted
for prescribing painkillers as long as they had examined and
documented that a patient was in intractable pain and needed the
medication. The slightly more than half a dozen pain clinics
dispense nearly 35 million pills a year, or, according to 2008
state pharmacy board statistics, roughly 460 pills for every resident
in a county of 76,000 people.
The geographic location has played a role in the size of the problem,
with Portsmouth located near the junction of Ohio,
Kentucky and West
Virginia and on the routes of several north-south and east-west
highways, making it a distribution point for more than just the local
area. The separate state jurisdictions do not track prescriptions
among the others, making it harder to tell where the prescriptions are
going. Generations of poverty have helped to create an underground
economy supporting the distribution of illegal substances.
As of spring 2011, the county has had more than 120 drug-related
deaths over the preceding decade, and in 2009 had the
second-highest death rate in the state from accidental drug overdoses,
although it is sparsely populated compared to the urban population
centers of the state. According to Lisa Roberts, a registered
nurse with the Portsmouth
City Health Department, Southern Ohio
distributes four times as many prescription drugs as Northern Ohio,
contributing to the high death rates. Local deaths from a lethal
drug combination of opiates, sedatives and muscle relaxants are so
common that locals have dubbed it the Portsmouth Cocktail.
Admissions into rehab facilities for painkiller addictions in the town
are five times the national average. Almost one in 10 infants born
in Scioto County in recent years has been addicted to prescription
drugs. Because of the extent of the problem, the Drug Enforcement
Administration has listed Scioto County on its watch list of the 10
most significant places in the country for trafficking in prescription
In February 2011 NBC Universal had a film crew in the city filming for
the cable TV show Intervention. On April 11, 2011 the show aired
as a special episode: "Intervention In-Depth: Hillbilly Heroin." It
explored the effects of prescription drug abuse on residents of the
town and surrounding area.
In 2007 Paul Volkman, a doctor from Chicago who had worked at a pain
clinic in Portsmouth since 2003, was indicted. He was tried in
February 2011 at the federal court in Cincinnati. Volkman was
convicted of 18 counts of illegal prescription drug distribution, and
was found guilty related to the deaths of four of his patients. He is
suspected of causing nearly 20 deaths. He faces from 20 years to life
In 2011 the DEA and state and local law enforcement agencies worked to
crack down on this problem. On May 17, 2011 the DEA served Immediate
Suspension Orders (suspension of their license to practice medicine)
on four local doctors and a pharmacy in Scioto County, including Dr.
Margy Temponeras. In a press release, the DEA said that Temponeras was
one of the largest dispensers of controlled substances in the US.
Nationally, prescription drug abuse is one of our largest substance
abuse problems, and in southern
Ohio abuse of pharmaceuticals has
reached almost epidemic proportions. Doctors that prescribe dangerous
drugs, for reasons not driven by medical need, are a danger to the
community. The actions taken today illustrate that DEA is committed to
work with our law enforcement partners and attack this problem head
— -Robert Corso, DEA
Special Agent in Charge
The DEA also served ISOs on three other doctors: John Temponeras, Mark
Fantazuzzi, and Michael Dawes, and a pharmacy, Prime Pharmacy, located
at 902 Fourth Street in Portsmouth. The DEA had made a preliminary
finding that the continued registration of these doctors and pharmacy
constituted an imminent danger to public health and safety. The orders
prohibit the parties from possessing or dispensing controlled
substances, pending the outcome of ongoing investigations. As a
result of the ISO, Dr. John Temponeras resigned from his position at
Ohio Medical Center.
The support group SOLACE formed to tackle this problem; it has helped
to raise public awareness of the issue and has lobbied the state house
for legislation. Governor
John Kasich referred to the group in his
first State of the State Address, and members of the group were
featured in the A&E documentary entitled Intervention In-Depth:
Hillbilly Heroin (2011). The group opened an official headquarters
in Portsmouth and worked with Attorney General
Mike DeWine to make
a documentary about drug abuse. SOLACE's efforts have been
promoted as an example of how a small, dedicated group could effect
real change in their community. But,
Ohio voters in 2011 rejected
a proposed $1 million drug prevention tax levy backed by SOLACE and
other anti-drug abuse organizations.
In May 2011 the
Ohio Senate and House unanimously passed House Bill
93, authored by Portsmouth's representative in the
Ohio House, Dr.
Terry Johnson, which dealt with improved regulation of pain clinics.
The legislation called for a performance analysis of the Ohio
Automated Rx Review System, limits the ability of prescribers to
personally furnish controlled substances, reforms
to improve consumer education, improves licensing and law enforcement
issues related to pain-management clinics, and calls for the
development of a statewide prescription drug "take-back" program.
The amended bill was signed into law by Governor
John Kasich on May
Buildings and landmarks
See also: List of Registered Historic Places in
Ohio § Scioto
The recently renovated, historic Columbia Music Hall, formerly "The
Columbia". The structure was damaged by fire on November 11, 2007, and
has since been converted into an outdoor theatre.
Many historical buildings in Portsmouth have been demolished because
of poor upkeep, other city development, or the completion of new
buildings that replaced the landmarks. Landmarks that have been
demolished include the old Norfolk & Western rail depot, churches
dating back to the early 20th century, houses dating to the 1850s,
Grant Middle School, and the old Portsmouth High School and various
Many buildings survive from the early 19th century. Old churches are
among the reminders of Portsmouth's past and identity. The Columbia
Theater was given a major facelift after it was damaged by
fire. Other noted historic buildings include the old
monastery, which can be seen for miles, and Spartan Stadium, as well
as numerous buildings in the Boneyfiddle Historic District, which is
listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1982, students
Miami University conducted research on several of Portsmouth's
most important historic buildings. This work resulted in an exhibition
Miami University Art Museum and a book entitled Portsmouth:
Architecture in an
Ohio River Town. The Portsmouth Public Library
is the city's library, founded in 1879. It has branch libraries
throughout Scioto County. The Southern
Ohio Museum, founded in 1979,
has more than sixty exhibits on display including artwork by Clarence
Holbrook Carter and Jesse Stuart, China dolls, Native American
artifacts, and works by local artists.
Indian Head Rock
Indian Head Rock
Indian Head Rock is an eight-ton sandstone boulder which until
2007 rested at the bottom of the
Ohio River. Historically, the boulder
was used to record low river stages. It is notable due to its history
and due to the figures and names of individuals which were carved into
the rock at times of low water levels. In 1917, the construction of a
dam downriver from Portsmouth meant that the rock would forever be
submerged, if not for its recovery by a group of local divers led by
an Ironton historian. The removal of the rock led the states of
Ohio into a legislative battle to determine its ownership
and disposition. The rock was returned to the state of
Portsmouth has fourteen parks for residents and community use. These
include Alexandria Park (
Scioto River confluence), Bannon
Park (near Farley Square),
Branch Rickey Park (on Williams Street near
levee), Buckeye Park (near
Branch Rickey Park), Cyndee Secrest Park
(Sciotoville), Dr. Hartlage Park (Rose Street in Sciotoville), Labold
Park (near Spartan Stadium),
Larry Hisle Park (23rd Street &
Thomas Ave.), Mound Park (17th & Hutchins Streets), York Park
(riverfront), Spartan Stadium, Tracy Park (Chillicothe & Gay
Streets), and Weghorst Park (Fourth & Jefferson Streets).
Floods and floodwalls
Although developed on higher ground, the city has been subject to
seasonal flooding. The city had extensive flooding in 1884, 1913, and
1937. After the flood of 1937, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
constructed a floodwall protecting the city, which prevented two major
floods in 1964 and 1997.
In 1992, the city of Portsmouth began honoring some of the many
accomplishments of its area natives by placing a star on the riverside
of the floodwall. This is known as the Portsmouth Wall of Fame and was
instituted by then-mayor Frank Gerlach. Some of the honorees include
Don Gullett, Al Oliver, and former United States Vice-President Dan
Quayle, who was not a Portsmouth native.
In 1992 a nonprofit group headed by Dr. Louis R. Chaboudy was formed
to investigate developing a mural-based tourist attraction on the
floodwall. In the spring of 1993, mural artist
Robert Dafford was
commissioned and began painting murals of Portsmouth's history. He
hired local art student
Herb Roe as an assistant. Roe subsequently
apprenticed to and worked for Dafford for 15 years. The project
eventually spanned sixty 20 feet (6.1 m) tall consecutive
Portsmouth murals, stretching for over 2,000 feet (610 m).
Subjects covered by the murals span the history of the area from the
ancient mound building Adena and Hopewell cultures to modern sporting
events and notable natives.
These subjects include:
The Portsmouth Earthworks, a large mound complex constructed by the
Ohio Hopewell culture from 100 BCE to 500 CE.
Lower Shawneetown, a
Shawnee village that straddled the
just downstream during the late 18th century.
The 1749 'Lead Plate Expedition' to advance France's territorial claim
Ohio Valley, led by Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville.
Shawnee leader who directed a large tribal confederacy
that opposed the United States during
Tecumseh's War and the War of
1812. He grew up in the
Ohio country during the American Revolutionary
War and the Northwest Indian War.
Henry Massie, a founding father of the town and surveyor who laid out
the original plat in 1803.
A Civil War unit from Portsmouth, Battery L, fighting at Gettysburg
Jim Thorpe, a Native American athlete who played as the player/coach
of the semi-professional Portsmouth Shoesteels in the late 1920s.
The Portsmouth Spartans, a member of the
NFL from 1929-1933; the
organization later moved to
Detroit to become the
Branch Rickey, influential baseball coach, inventor of the farm team
system, and the signer of
Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball;
Robinson broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the
Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
Clarence Holbrook Carter, an American Regionalist and surrealist
Carl Ackerman, local photographer and historic photo collector, whose
collection was used for many of the river murals.
Ohio River flood of 1937, which led to construction of
Transportation – stagecoaches, riverboats, railroads and the Ohio
and Erie Canal, which had its terminus just outside Portsmouth.
Local notables including Roy Rogers, Jesse Stuart, Julia Marlowe, and
Other panels explore the local history of education, the first
European settlers, industries (including the steel industry, shoe
industry, and the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant), sister cities,
the local Carnegie library, firemen and police, period genre scenes of
old downtown and other localities, and a memorial to area armed forces
The original mural project was finished in the fall of 2003. Since
then several additional panels have been added, including murals
honoring Portsmouth's baseball heroes in 2006; and the Tour of the
Scioto River Valley (TOSRV), a bicycle tour between Columbus and
Portsmouth in 2007.
Portsmouth had a series of semi-pro football teams in the 1920s and
1930s, the most notable being the Portsmouth Shoe-Steels, whose roster
included player-coach Jim Thorpe. From 1929 to 1933, the city was home
to the Portsmouth Spartans, which joined the National Football League
in 1930. The Spartans competed in the first professional football
night game, against the
Brooklyn Dodgers in 1930. Despite
their success, the team could not survive in the NFL's second-smallest
city during the Great Depression; it was sold and moved to
1934, where it became the
In the late 20th century, the Portsmouth Explorers were one of the
original teams in the Frontier League, a non-affiliated minor league
baseball organization. The Explorers played in the league's first
three seasons, from 1993 to 1995. In 1938, Portsmouth was also the
home of the Portsmouth Red Birds, a minor league team owned by the St.
In the late 1990s Portsmouth was home to the Superstar Wrestling
Federation before its demise. More recently Revolutionary Championship
Wrestling has made its home in Portsmouth, airing on local TV station
Revolutionary Championship Wrestling
Revolutionary Championship Wrestling in Portsmouth has featured
such stars as Big Van Vader, Jerry "The King" Lawler, Demolition Ax,
"Beautiful" Bobby Eaton, "Wildcat" Chris Harris, and Ivan Koloff.
Portsmouth is near the dividing line for several television markets,
including Columbus, Cincinnati, and Huntington-Charleston. There are
two local television stations including WTZP, an America One
affiliate, and WQCW, a CW affiliate. Portsmouth was, prior to October
2017, served by WPBO, a
PBS affiliate. Programs aired on WPBO were
broadcast by WOSU in Columbus. Local radio stations WPAY-FM, WIOI,
WNXT, WPYK, WZZZ, and
WOSP-FM serve the radio listeners in the city.
Portsmouth is also served by three newspapers. The Portsmouth Daily
Times is the city's only daily newspaper and is also available
online. The Community Common is a free biweekly newspaper and
the Scioto Voice is a weekly newspaper, which is mailed to
subscribers. The University Chronicle is the student-led newspaper
Shawnee State University.
Dale Bandy –
Ohio University basketball coach
Kathleen Battle – opera singer
Al Bridwell – former
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball player
Gerald Cadogan – former Professional Football player
Earl Thomas Conley
Earl Thomas Conley – country music singer and songwriter
Martin Dillon – musician and operatic tenor
Chuck Ealey – former football player for University of Toledo, and
the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Hamilton
Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts
Steve Free – ASCAP Award-winning Appalachian musician
Bill Harsha –
Ohio politician for the U.S. House of Representatives
Larry Hisle – former
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball player, currently
Milwaukee Brewers Organization
Elza Jeffords – U.S. representative from Mississippi (1883–1885);
practiced law in Portsmouth prior to the American Civil War
Liza Johnson - film director
Cheryl L. Mason
Cheryl L. Mason — Chairman, Board of Veterans’ Appeals, US
Department of Veterans’ Affairs (First woman to hold the office)
Serena B. Miller - author
Jeff Munn – Vice President of operations for Harlem Globetrotters
Rocky Nelson – former
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball player
Josh Newman –
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball pitcher
Al Oliver – former
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball player
Wally Phillips – longtime Chicago radio personality
Del Rice - former
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball player
Branch Rickey – baseball executive, signed
Jackie Robinson to the
Barbara Robinson – author
Herb Roe – mural artist
Roy Rogers – singer and cowboy movie star
Stuff Smith – jazz musician
Adam Stevens - crew chief for
Kyle Busch in the
NASCAR Sprint Cup
Ted Strickland – former
Gene Tenace – former
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball player
Portsmouth has three sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities
– Great Corby, England, United Kingdom
– Orizaba, Mexico
– Zittau, Sachsen, Germany
List of cities and towns along the
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^ "Edwards pledges to keep jobs of workers at uranium plant". The
Blade. 2004-09-17. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
^ Herald-Dispatch, DAVID E. MALLOYThe. "
Bill Clinton visits Tri-State
area". The Herald-Dispatch. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
^ Herald-Dispatch.com. "Gallery: McCain visits Portsmouth". The
Herald-Dispatch. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
^ Herald-DispatchHerald-Dispatch.com, 2008/The. "Gallery: Obama in
Portsmouth". The Herald-Dispatch. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
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Bill Clinton makes a stop in Portsmouth". Retrieved
^ "From blight to bright". Portsmouth Daily Times. Retrieved
^ "SOPA awarded $300,000 for brownfield cleanup". Portsmouth Daily
Times. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
^ "Portsmouth to form Downtown Redevelopment District". Community
Common. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
^ a b "Data points to economic growth". Portsmouth Daily Times.
^ Williams, Mark. "
Ohio 2nd in economic-development report; Columbus
finishes 8th". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
^ "$45 million spent on development projects". Portsmouth Daily Times.
^ "Fifteen Communities Advance in America’s Best Communities $10M
Prize Competition". www.businesswire.com. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
^ "Spartan Municipal Stadium up for $25k grant — Community votes
needed to secure funding". Portsmouth Daily Times. Retrieved
^ "Stadium renovation plans announced". Portsmouth Daily Times.
^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9,
^ "Number of Inhabitants: Ohio" (PDF). 18th
Census of the United
Census Bureau. Retrieved November 22,
2013. [permanent dead link]
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Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty
Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census
Bureau. Archived from the original on June 17, 2013. Retrieved
November 25, 2013.
^ "Level III Ecoregions of Ohio". National Health and Environmental
Effects Research Laboratory. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Retrieved September 28, 2013.
^ "Mayor's Office".
^ "About Us,
City Council". Retrieved 2018-02-01.
^ Access Scioto County (ASC)
^ American Universities and Colleges, 19th Edition [2 Volumes]:
Nineteenth Edition By Praeger, p. 1040
^ a b
Ohio High School Athletic Association. "
Ohio High School
Athletic Association". Retrieved 2007-05-17.
^ OHSAA. "
Ohio High School Athletic Association Web site
^ "Multiple Factors Cited by Jurors". The Community
Common(communitycommon.com). July 11, 2007. Retrieved
City School Earn Top Design Award". The Community
Common(communitycommon.com). July 11, 2007. Retrieved
^ a b Wayne Allen (July 13, 2007). "
City Schools Facility Awaits
Council". The Community Common(communitycommon.com). Retrieved
^ "High School Hoimetown-Portsmouth celebrating new stadium WOWK tv".
^ Ryan Scott Ottney (July 15, 2009). "PHS names complex". Portsmouth
^ Ryan Scott Ottney (June 25, 2009). "A Pictures Worth". Portsmouth
^ a b Erika K.; Scott B.; Valeria W., "Pain Clinics, Painkiller
Addiction, and a Petition to Fight Both", Rehab Journal, The Canyon,
^ a b c d e Aaron Marshall (February 28, 2011). "Young lives wrecked
by prescription drug epidemic in Southern Ohio". The Plain Dealer.
^ Aaron Marshall (February 26, 2011). "Prescription drug epidemic
Ohio county to its knees". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved
2011-04-13. Statistics as bleak as tombstones back up Roberts'
apocalyptic talk: The county has seen a 360 percent increase in
accidental drug-overdose deaths and has the highest hepatitis C rate
in Ohio, a rate that has nearly quadrupled in the past five years,
thanks to junkies who are shooting up.
^ a b c Holly Zachariah (February 7, 2010). "Illegal prescription-drug
trade now epidemic". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved
^ Randy Yohe. "Violent Crime Wave Has Portsmouth Police Overwhelmed".
WSAZ-TV. Retrieved 2011-04-12. A midday armed bank robbery in
Portsmouth happened while we were covering at least two other felony
investigations. A string of assaults and home invasions – and, what
police say is a drug fueled double kidnapping. The community is on
edge – or fighting mad – and the police department is without a
headquarters – scattered and splintered and overwhelmed beyond
^ Gary Cohen (February 4, 2001). "The "Poor Man's Heroin":An Ohio
surgeon helps feed a growing addiction to OxyContin". U.S. News &
World Report. Retrieved 2011-04-12. Last year, about the time Lilly
started his pain clinic, local police noticed that drug-related crimes
in Portsmouth had started to rise. Burglaries alone had increased 20
percent from the year before. For a period of about three months,
police records show, homes or pharmacies were being broken into and
robbed of prescription drugs almost daily. A Scioto County sheriff's
deputy was arrested for stealing painkillers; a man tried to rob a
pharmacy of OxyContin; and home break-in reports show the only things
stolen were cash and pills. At the same time, pharmacists were
noticing scores of seemingly healthy young men coming in with
prescriptions for OxyContin.
^ Frank Lewis (February 1, 2011). "Horner talks about crime wave". The
Portsmouth Daily Times. Retrieved 2011-04-12. I think that we are
seeing a concentration in a short period of time of gun-related
crimes," Horner said. "And historically we have had gun-related crimes
in the area of drugs. It has been five or six years ago that we had
that rash of murders. That was the same time that we felt that we
needed to get that tax levy through for just drug investigators.
Obviously it went down, and there are a lot of factors that play into
the situation today – obviously the economic times that we are in
– at the depressed area that we are in, the increasing use of drugs,
specifically prescription medications – Oxycontin and
^ "Crime in Portsmouth,
Ohio (OH): Murders, Rapes, Robberies,
Assaults, Burglaries, Thefts, Auto thefts, Arson, Law Enforcement
Employees, Police officers". Retrieved 2011-04-12.
^ Paul Tough (July 29, 2001). "The alchemy of OxyContin". New York
Times. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
^ "Growing Concern Over 'Pill Mills' In Ohio".
Ohio News Network.
WBNS-TV. June 10, 2010. Scioto County has the largest concentration of
pain clinics per capita of all of Ohio's counties. access-date=
requires url= (help)
^ Melody Petersen (January 31, 2011). "Pain Killers". Men's Health.
Retrieved 2011-04-12. Residents first noticed pain clinics opening in
the county in the late 1990s, not long after
Ohio legislators passed a
new law. The measure states that doctors can't be prosecuted for
prescribing painkillers as long as they examine the patient and
document that the patient has intractable pain and needs the
medication. Patient advocates had lobbied to pass the law in
well as similar versions in dozens of other states. The advocates
complained that many doctors were undertreating pain because they
feared they might attract attention from the DEA if they wrote
prescriptions for federally controlled narcotics. But these laws had
other supporters, who largely kept quiet behind the scenes even though
they were the ones supplying most of the lobbying funds. The
painkiller manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin,
paid millions of dollars to support campaigns for those patient
advocates. Many drug companies continue to fund the efforts of these
^ a b Aaron Marshall (February 26, 2011). "Prescription drug epidemic
Ohio county to its knees". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved
2011-04-13. Do the math, and it comes to roughly 460 pills for every
man, woman and child in this county of 76,000 residents, according to
2008 state pharmacy board statistics.
^ Holly Zachariah (October 27, 2010). "Portsmouth goes after "pill
mills"". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
^ a b Andrew Welsh-Huggins (December 22, 2010). "
Ohio county fights
extreme pill addiction abuse". msnbc.com. Associated Press. Retrieved
2011-04-13. Nearly one in 10 babies were born addicted to drugs last
year in southern Ohio's Scioto County. Admissions for prescription
painkiller overdoses were five times the national average. In a rare
step, the health commissioner declared a public health emergency,
something usually reserved for disease outbreaks.
^ Wayne Allen. "'Hillbilly Heroin' to air April 11: A&E's special
filmed here in February". The Portsmouth Daily Times. Retrieved
^ "BREAKING NEWS: Federal Agents Search Wheelersburg Doctor's Office".
A&E Network. April 12, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
^ "Chicago Doctor Accused of Distributing Millions of Illegal Pain
Pills". Associated Press. February 28, 2011. Retrieved
^ Chuck Goudie (May 11, 2011). "Doc from Chicago convicted of running
giant 'pill mill'". WLS-TV. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ a b c "BREAKING NEWS: Federal Agents Search Wheelersburg Doctor's
Office". WSAZ-TV. May 17, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-17. According to a
press release, the DEA served Immediate Suspension Orders (ISO) on
physicians Margy Temponeras, John Temponeras, Mark Fantazuzzi, and
Michael Dawes. The DEA also served an ISO on Prime Pharmacy located at
902 Fourth Street in Portsmouth. Federal agents arrived at Dr. Margy
Temponeras' office in Wheelersburg around 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. In a
press release, the DEA calls Dr. Margy Temponeras one of the largest
dispensers of controlled substances in the United States. They also
say Dr. Fantazuzzi and Dr. Dawes, both have worked at one time at
Ohio Complete Pain Management in Portsmouth, Ohio, and are
responsible for the prescribing of hundreds of thousands of oxycodone
products and anti-anxiety medications over the past two years.
^ Allison Wenger (May 17, 2011). "4
Ohio Doctors, 1 Pharmacy Lose
Licences For Controlled Substances: Not Allowed To Distribute Or
Prescribe Schedule II-V Drugs". NBC 4 (WCMH-TV). Retrieved
^ "Dr. John Temponeras resigns from SOMC following raid on doctors'
offices and pharmacy". Portsmouth Daily Times. May 17, 2011. Retrieved
^ Kephas, Eric. "SOLACE hits the statehouse, stresses depth of local
drug problem". Portsmouth Daily Times.
^ Kephas, Eric. "After a year, SOLACE boasts accomplishments".
Portsmouth Daily Times.
^ Allen, Wayne. "SOLACE celebrates opening of new office". Portsmouth
^ Allen, Wayne. "SOLACE working on drug abuse documentary". Portsmouth
^ Kephas, Eric. "A stronger Scioto: Let's build one together".
Portsmouth Daily Times.
^ Allen, Wayne. "Drug prevention levy fails". Portsmouth Daily
^ "Senate passes pain clinic legislation; Kasich could sign into law
this week". Portsmouth Daily Times. May 17, 2011. Retrieved
^ Frank Lewis (May 21, 2011). "Pill mill crackdown: Kasich signs House
Bill 93 to regulate pain clinics". Portsmouth Daily Times. Retrieved
^ a b Frank Lewis. "Fire Decimates Columbia". Retrieved
^ Edna Carter Southard, ed. (1982). Portsmouth: Architecture in an
Ohio River Town. Oxford, OH:
Miami University Art Museum.
^ Hartman, Steve (March 28, 2008). "An Epic Battle Over A Rock".
^ "Portsmouth Area Resource Guide 2007–2008". The Community Common.
July 29, 2007. p. 4. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ Jeff Barron (July 27, 2007). "
City to Repair Stars". Portsmouth
Daily Times. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
^ Phyllis Noah (August 27, 2006). "Diverse Display". Portsmouth Daily
^ "Scioto County, Ohio-The
Mural Project". Archived from the original
on 2010-04-25. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
^ Wayne Allen (August 19, 2007). "Newest
Mural Honors TOSRV".
CommunityCommon. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
Ohio Historical Society. "National Football League". Retrieved
^ Chris Murphy. "
Portsmouth Spartans Historical Society". Retrieved
^ Portsmouth Daily Times
^ Community Common
^ Scioto Voice
^ University Chronicle
^ Znidar, Mark (August 7, 2015). "Portsmouth native helps Kyle Busch
put together magical run". The Columbus Dispatch. Columbus, OH.
Ann Hagedorn, Beyond the River The Untold Story of the Heroes of the
Underground Railroad (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002).
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Portsmouth, Ohio.
Wikisource has the text of a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
about Portsmouth, Ohio.
Municipalities and communities of Scioto County, Ohio, United States
County seat: Portsmouth
‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent