Portsmouth, Ohio: Flood Wall Murals

A half-mile long, colorful scenes distract viewers from thinking about what's on the other side of the flood wall.
Front St., Portsmouth, OH
Take 23 south through Portsmouth, and downtown, before you go over the bridge into Kentucky, turn right onto 73 west. Turn left on Washington Street. Go about one block and the murals should start right in front of you.
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Portsmouth, Ohio mural segment.

Flood wall murals

Portsmouth, Ohio is on the Ohio river, and in historic Boneyfiddle downtown district there is a huge floodwall that stands between the city and the river. Starting in 1993, artist Robert Dafford painted large sections of the wall with murals/pictures that depict the last two centuries of Portsmouth's history. Very interesting and beautiful. Many of the murals are 3-D and it feels as though you can "step into" them. They are 20 feet high and over 2,100 feet long. Examples of some are: Portsmouth Spartan's Football team, which later became the Detroit Lions; Serpent Mound, an indian burial ground nearby in the shape of a snake; the Portsmouth Motorcycle Club or Harley Motorcycle Club that has been in Portsmouth for years, and when you get to that mural, the actual house/building is right across the street.

[Julie Rose, 07/09/2003]
Portsmouth floodwall murals

I'm not sure if Portsmouth just wanted to cover its ugly floodwall or if they were trying to compete with Steubenville OH, home of about 20 murals. Artist Robert Dafford has been working on this project for a decade and has about 1/2 mile of murals completed. Take your camera so you can have your picture taken with Roy Rogers (in 2D form).

[Connie LaCook, 11/09/2002]

Tipster "Margi" reports: "The murals are complete (52 pieces of art, 2200 sq. feet)." She also points out that Portsmouth is the childhood home of Roy Rogers, better explaining his prominence in the murals.

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