Last updated: August 30, 2023
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Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums
Visitor Centers and Museums along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Founded in 1788 by Rufus Putnam, Marietta, Ohio, was the first settlement established in the Northwest Territory. The original settlement was surrounded by a stockade built by the civilian-run Ohio Company. The stockade was known as Campus Martius, so named because it put settlers and soldiers alike in mind of the Fields of Mars, a training ground once used by ancient Roman legions.
At its outset, the settlement was run by the military. It remained under military law until 1795 when the Treaty of Greeneville was signed, ending open hostilities between settlers and local native nations. As a result, Colonel Ebenezer Sproat became the town’s first sheriff. In 1800, the settlement was incorporated into the town of Marietta, a name chosen in honor of Queen Marie Antionette and France’s support of the American colonies during the Revolutionary War.
On September 13, 1803, Lewis wrote of the town in his journal, stating:
“we arrived at Marietta, the mouth of the Muskingum river, at 7 OClock in the evening […] Marietta is one hundred miles from Wheeling; lay here all night wrote to the President of U.S. dismissed two of my hands, […] I engaged another at Marietta or the mouth of Muskingum— This evening was visited by Colo. Green the Postmaster at this place, he appears to be much of a gentleman and an excelant republican.”
Many of the buildings in Marietta’s Historic District date back to the city’s founding in 1788 and, in 1974, the area was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Campus Martius Museum now sits on the site of the original Campus Martius stockade. It encompasses the Rufus Putnam House, the only part of the stockade that wasn’t torn down in 1795 with the signing of the treaty. Focusing on the role that the establishment of Marietta and the Northwest Territory played in early American history, the museum offers a first-hand experience of frontier life. It also tells the story of Ohio’s first peoples, such as the Adena/Hopewell Cultures and other native tribes that inhabited the area, through a combination of static, interactive, and living history exhibits staffed by interpretive guides.
Admission to the museum is $10 per adult and $5 per child and veteran. Parking is free. Interactive school group programs are available but must be scheduled in advance by calling the museum at (740) 373-3750 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Group tours can be arranged by contacting email@example.com. For more information, directions, and operating hours, visit the website at https://mariettamuseums.org/campus-martius/