Sites That Shaped Ohio History
Before canals and railroads brought prosperity to the Maumee Valley of northwest Ohio, newly arrived frontiersmen fought Native Americans and the British for control of the valley. In 1794, U.S. General "Mad" Anthony Wayne built Fort Defiance at the junction of the Maumee and Auglaize rivers in what's now downtown Defiance. Inside a dark earthen outline of the fort, a granite boulder remains to mark the flagstaff pointing travelers north.
Like a path to the past, an abandoned rail bridge, covered with grass, spans the Maumee at Roche de Boeuf (Buffalo Rock) south of Waterville. Native Americans gathered here on the eve of a battle against Wayne. The Battle of Fallen Timbers Monument, which commemorates Wayne's victory and the treaty that brought peace for nearly 2 decades, overlooks the river from a forested ridge near the town of Maumee. Nearby at Sidecut Metropark, you can hike part of the route Wayne and his 1,000-man army marched that summer long ago.
Near Perrysburg, black cannons at Fort Meigs State Memorial, the largest wooden-walled fortification in the U.S., still aim toward enemy lines. During the War of 1812, General William Henry Harrison led an outmanned American militia on a siege that overcame a combined force of British, Canadians and Native American allies here in a decisive battle.
On sunny summer weekends at this reconstructed fort, the sounds of musket fire and war whoops clash in the air during the daylong re-enactments of that conflict.
"If we'd lost either of these battles," local historian and Eastern Michigan University professor Ted Ligibel says, "this region of Ohio might not exist as we know it."
In the peaceful Maumee River Valley, those early days live on as part of northwest Ohio's proud legacy.
Updated March 2008.