The Floodwall Murals are a major attraction and can easily be promoted because they are visual and have a variety of stories for print media – the idea, the artist, the process. The panels themselves can be used to appeal to various interests – motorcyclists, sports fans, history buffs.
The Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center, likewise is a valuable community attraction with the Wertz Collection of ancient objects, the Carter Collection and a variety of revolving art exhibits.
Although the scheduled events at The Riffe Center for the Performing Arts run outside the tourist season, the venue is a major asset to the area and needs to be included in the list of attractions for visitors.
As to the other “possible” attractions, I offer the following. In completing my book, “Great Heats,” set in Portsmouth 1000 years ago, I was reminded again of the ancient nature of the area. Historically, the Mound Builders created a major ceremonial site around what is now Mound Park, a center that was used for at least 800 years.
A museum to the Mound Builders in Portsmouth/Scioto County would make a great deal of sense. Stored and undisplayed artifacts collected by the Ohio Historical Society in 1915-16, from the Tremper Mound and the Feurt Farm Mounds could become the heart of the new museum’s exhibits, along with the 1847 drawings of Portsmouth by Squier and Davis. A temporary housing of these pipes, amulets and tools could be in any number of existing, attractive, but under-utilized buildings in Portsmouth. Voila – a fourth reason to visit Portsmouth and Scioto County.
Lastly, I would propose turning the vacant lots along Second Street or other places in the city into attractive, year-round gardens – one lot could be a Butterfly Garden, organized with plants to attract Butterflies. Another abandoned lot could be set with native Ohio plants, such as the Buckeye tree, the Black Locust, Huckleberry bush and native roses. A third vacant lot could be planted to attract Hummingbirds. In winter, the trees and plants could be decorated with lights, becoming an attraction for local residents as well as visitors during the colder months.
These attractions, along with the 1810 House, could make Portsmouth a smart destination for families looking for weekend getaways, and it seems to me that all of this is feasible; the Governor’s new incentive fund may provide valuable ongoing support. What is required is the will and time.
Ronald D. Giles, author