Ohio River

Ohio River
Ohio River.jpg
The widest point on the Ohio River is just north of downtown Louisville, where it is one mile (1.6 km) wide
Ohio River basin
CountryUnited States
StatePennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois
CitiesPittsburgh, PA, East Liverpool, OH, Wheeling, WV, Parkersburg, WV, Huntington, WV, Ashland, KY, Cincinnati, OH, Louisville, KY, Owensboro, KY, Evansville, IN, Henderson, KY, Paducah, KY, Cairo, IL
Physical characteristics
SourceAllegheny River
 - locationAllegany Township, Potter County, Pennsylvania
 - coordinates41°52′22″N 77°52′30″W / 41°52′22″N 77°52′30″W / 41.87278; -77.87500
 - elevation2,240 ft (680 m)
2nd sourceMonongahela River
 - locationFairmont, West Virginia
 - coordinates39°27′53″N 80°09′13″W / 39°27′53″N 80°09′13″W / 39.46472; -80.15361
 - elevation880 ft (270 m)
Source confluence 
 - locationPittsburgh, Pennsylvania
 - coordinates40°26′32″N 80°00′52″W / 40°26′32″N 80°00′52″W / 40.44222; -80.01444
 - elevation730 ft (220 m)
MouthMississippi River
 - location
at Cairo, Illinois / Ballard County, Kentucky
 - coordinates
36°59′12″N 89°07′50″W / 36°59′12″N 89°07′50″W / 36.98667; -89.130561,850,000 cu ft/s (52,000 m3/s)
Basin features
 - leftLittle Kanawha River, Kanawha River, Guyandotte River, Big Sandy River, Little Sandy River, Licking River, Kentucky River, Salt River, Green River, Cumberland River, Tennessee River
 - rightBeaver River, Little Muskingum River, Muskingum River, Little Hocking River, Hocking River, Shade River, Scioto River, Little Miami River, Great Miami River, Wabash River

The Ohio River, which flows westward from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cairo, Illinois, is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River in the United States. At the confluence, the Ohio is considerably bigger than the Mississippi (by long-term mean discharge, Ohio at Cairo: 281,500 cu ft/s (7,960 m3/s);[1] Mississippi at Thebes: 208,200 cu ft/s (5,897 m3/s)[2]) and, thus from a hydrological perspective, is the main stream of the whole river system.

The 981-mile (1,579 km) river flows through or along the border of six states, and its drainage basin includes parts of 15 states. Through its largest tributary, the Tennessee River, the basin includes many of the states of the southeastern U.S. It is the source of drinking water for three million people.[3]

The name "Ohio" comes from the Seneca, Ohi:yo', lit. "Good River".[4] The river had great significance in the history of the Native Americans, as numerous civilizations formed along its valley. For thousands of years, Native Americans used the river as a major transportation and trading route. Its waters connected communities. In the five centuries before European conquest, the Mississippian culture built numerous regional chiefdoms and major earthwork mounds in the Ohio Valley, such as Angel Mounds near Evansville, Indiana, as well as in the Mississippi Valley and the Southeast. The Osage, Omaha, Ponca and Kaw lived in the Ohio Valley, but under pressure from the Iroquois to the northeast, migrated west of the Mississippi River in the 17th century to territory now defined as Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

In 1669, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle led a French expedition to the Ohio River, becoming the first Europeans to see it. After European-American settlement, the river served as a border between present-day Kentucky and Indian Territories. It was a primary transportation route for pioneers during the westward expansion of the early U.S. In his Notes on the State of Virginia published in 1781–82, Thomas Jefferson stated: "The Ohio is the most beautiful river on earth. Its current gentle, waters clear, and bosom smooth and unbroken by rocks and rapids, a single instance only excepted."[5]

During the 19th century, the river was the southern boundary of the Northwest Territory. It is sometimes considered as the western extension of the Mason–Dixon Line that divided Pennsylvania from Maryland, and thus part of the border between free and slave territory, and between the Northern and Southern United States or Upper South. Where the river was narrow, it was the way to freedom for thousands of slaves escaping to the North, many helped by free blacks and whites of the Underground Railroad resistance movement.

The Ohio River is a climatic transition area, as its water runs along the periphery of the humid subtropical and humid continental climate areas. It is inhabited by fauna and flora of both climates. In winter, it regularly freezes over at Pittsburgh but rarely farther south toward Cincinnati and Louisville. At Paducah, Kentucky, in the south, near the Ohio's confluence with the Mississippi, it is ice-free year-round.


The name "Ohio" comes from the Seneca language (an Iroquoian language), Ohi:yo' (roughly pronounced oh-hee-yoh, with the vowel in "hee" held longer), a proper name derived from ohiːyoːh ("good river"), therefore literally translating to "Good River".[4][6] "Great river" and "large creek" have also been given as translations.[7][8]

Native Americans, including the Lenni Lenape and Iroquois, considered the Ohio and Allegheny rivers as the same, as is suggested by a New York State road sign on Interstate 86 that refers to the Allegheny River also as Ohi:yo';[9] the Geographic Names Information System lists O-hee-yo and O-hi-o as variant names for the Allegheny.[10]

An earlier Miami-Illinois language name was also applied to the Ohio River, Mosopeleacipi ("river of the Mosopelea" tribe). Shortened in the Shawnee language to pelewa thiipi, spelewathiipi or peleewa thiipiiki, the name evolved through variant forms such as "Polesipi", "Peleson", "Pele Sipi" and "Pere Sipi", and eventually stabilized to the variant spellings "Pelisipi", "Pelisippi" and "Pellissippi". Originally applied just to the Ohio River, the "Pelisipi" name later was variously applied back and forth between the Ohio River and the Clinch River in Virginia and Tennessee.[11][12] In his original draft of the Land Ordinance of 1784, Thomas Jefferson proposed a new state called "Pelisipia", to the south of the Ohio River, which would have included parts of present-day Eastern Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.[11]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Ohiorivier
العربية: نهر أوهايو
asturianu: Ríu Ohio
تۆرکجه: اوهایو چایی
башҡортса: Огайо (йылға)
беларуская: Агая (рака)
भोजपुरी: ओहायो नदी
български: Охайо (река)
brezhoneg: Stêr Ohio
català: Riu Ohio
čeština: Ohio (řeka)
Chi-Chewa: Mtsinje wa Ohio
Cymraeg: Afon Ohio
dansk: Ohiofloden
Deutsch: Ohio River
eesti: Ohio jõgi
español: Río Ohio
Esperanto: Ohio (rivero)
euskara: Ohio ibaia
français: Ohio (rivière)
galego: Río Ohio
한국어: 오하이오강
hrvatski: Ohio (rijeka)
Bahasa Indonesia: Sungai Ohio
italiano: Ohio (fiume)
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಒಹಾಯೊ ನದಿ
Kiswahili: Ohio (mto)
Kreyòl ayisyen: Owayo (rivyè)
Кыргызча: Огайо
latviešu: Ohaio (upe)
lietuvių: Ohajas (upė)
മലയാളം: ഒഹായോ നദി
मराठी: ओहायो नदी
Bahasa Melayu: Sungai Ohio
Nederlands: Ohio (rivier)
日本語: オハイオ川
norsk: Ohio (elv)
norsk nynorsk: Ohioelva
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Ogayo (daryo)
Piemontèis: Ohio (fium)
polski: Ohio (rzeka)
português: Rio Ohio
Ripoarisch: Ohio (Floss)
română: Fluviul Ohio
русский: Огайо (река)
Scots: Ohio River
Simple English: Ohio River
slovenščina: Ohio (reka)
српски / srpski: Охајо (река)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ohio (rijeka)
svenska: Ohiofloden
தமிழ்: ஒகையோ ஆறு
Türkçe: Ohio Nehri
українська: Огайо (річка)
Tiếng Việt: Sông Ohio
Winaray: Salog Ohio
粵語: 俄亥俄河
中文: 俄亥俄河