“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Youngstown in Mahoning County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The Mahoning River

The Mahoning River Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, July 2, 2022
1. The Mahoning River Marker
Inscription.  Like most major rivers and cities in Ohio, the Mahoning River and its watershed have played a significant role in the development of the city of Youngstown.

There is little known of the area we call the Mahoning Valley prior to the mid-1700s, with the arrival of European-Americans. However, what is known is that the area was a lush, fertile flood plain that beckoned tribes of Native Americans passing through from the Ohio River north to settlements located in the areas now known as Cleveland and Detroit.

The name "Mahoning” is derived either from the Delaware word Mahoni, signifying "a (salt) lick,” or Mahonink, "at the (salt) lick.” Salt was an important resource to both Native Americans as well as early settlers and the area possessed several natural springs.

In 1796, John Young and his surveying team traveled the Mahoning River, stopping at the banks of Spring Common (the location of this sign) in an expedition that would eventually lead to the founding of Youngstown.

At first a source of drinking water and means of transportation, the Mahoning River and its tributaries later
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became major players in the burgeoning local iron and steel industry. The water from the Mahoning River and its watershed supplied the mills with water for cooling hot metal and a place to discharge waste waters from the iron and steel making process.

However, with no environmental controls in place until the late 20th century, pollution of the Mahoning River watershed was inevitable. Decades of industrial pollution took its toll on the river. In 1952, a study by the U.S. Geological Survey called the Mahoning "among the worst polluted streams in the United States."

With the passage of the Clean Air and Water Acts as well as the decline of the local steel industry in the late 1970s, water quality and aquatic life gradually began to improve.

Many challenges still remain; however, a significant initiative to clean the river, expand recreational opportunities and generate new community and economic development along the riverfront is now underway.

Spanning 113 river miles, the Mahoning River served as the lifeblood for development of the region dating as far back as the late 1700s.

As the iron and steel industry began to develop, the river was used as a source for cooling hot metal as well as for waste disposal by the mills that lined its banks. During the industry's peak, it is estimated that over 400,000
The Mahoning River image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, July 2, 2022
2. The Mahoning River
pounds of contaminants were discharged into the river each day with water temperatures occasionally reaching as high as 120° Fahrenheit.

In 1913, a record flood inundated Youngstown, submerging significant portions of downtown as well as major industrial sites along the river's channel. The flood demonstrated the need for modern day stormwater management, improved bridge and water supply system design, as well as construction and land use planning on floodplains throughout Ohio.

While many challenges remain, there is a significant interest and effort in helping restore the river to its full ecological, recreational and economic potential.
Erected by Youngstown CityScape.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1796.
Location. 41° 6.184′ N, 80° 39.463′ W. Marker is in Youngstown, Ohio, in Mahoning County. Marker is on Mahoning Avenue, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 534 Mahoning Ave, Youngstown OH 44502, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Ohio Settlers in the Mahoning River Valley (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Founding of Youngstown (about 700 feet away); Harry Burt and Good Humor / Ross Radio Company
The Mahoning River image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, July 2, 2022
3. The Mahoning River
Looking north at the marker.
(approx. 0.2 miles away); The Warner Theater (approx. ¼ mile away); Working Class Heroes (approx. 0.3 miles away); Little Steel Strike (approx. 0.4 miles away); A Little Bit of Youngstown’s History (approx. 0.4 miles away); The First Log School (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Youngstown.
The Mahoning River image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, July 2, 2022
4. The Mahoning River
Looking south at the marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 20, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 18, 2022, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 345 times since then and 79 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 18, 2022, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 20, 2024