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Portsmouth, Ohio

Portsmouth, Ohio
A view of Market Street Plaza in Historic Boneyfiddle
A view of Market Street Plaza in Historic Boneyfiddle
Official seal of Portsmouth, Ohio
Nickname(s): P-Town
Motto: "Where Southern Hospitality Begins"
Location in the State of Ohio
Location in the State of Ohio
Location of Portsmouth in Scioto County
Location of Portsmouth in Scioto County
Country United States
State Ohio
County Scioto
Founded 1803
Incorporated 1815
 • City Manager Derek K. Allen, ICMA-CM
 • Total 11.07 sq mi (28.67 km2)
 • Land 10.73 sq mi (27.79 km2)
 • Water 0.34 sq mi (0.88 km2)
Elevation 533 ft (162 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 20,226
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 20,302
 • Density 1,885.0/sq mi (727.8/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 45662-45663
Area code(s) 740
FIPS code 39-64304[4]
GNIS feature ID 1061567[5]
Website .orgportsmouthoh

Portsmouth is a city in and the county seat of Scioto County, Ohio, United States.[6] It lies in far southern Ohio on the northern bank of the Ohio River just east of the mouth of the Scioto River. The population was 20,226 at the 2010 census.


  • History 1
    • Foundation 1.1
    • Growth 1.2
    • Decline 1.3
      • Prescription drug epidemic 1.3.1
  • Demographics 2
    • 2010 census 2.1
    • 2000 census 2.2
  • Geography 3
    • Neighborhoods 3.1
  • Government 4
    • City government 4.1
    • County government 4.2
  • Economy 5
  • Transportation 6
    • Highways 6.1
    • Rail 6.2
    • Air 6.3
    • Public transportation 6.4
  • Education 7
    • Colleges and universities 7.1
    • K-12 schools 7.2
  • Culture 8
    • Buildings and landmarks 8.1
    • Indian Head Rock 8.2
    • City parks 8.3
    • Floods and floodwalls 8.4
    • Professional sports 8.5
    • Media 8.6
  • Notable people 9
  • Sister cities 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13



Portsmouth's roots began in the 1790s when the small town of Alexandria was founded just west of where Portsmouth is today.[7] Alexandria was flooded numerous times by the Ohio River and the Scioto River. Most recently in January and February 1937. In 1803, Henry Massie spotted a place to move the town away from the flood plains. He began to plot the new city by distributing the land and mapping the streets. Portsmouth was founded in 1803 and was established as a city in 1815. Alexandria soon disappeared.


Portsmouth quickly grew around an industrial base due to its location at the confluence of the Ohio and Scioto rivers; early industrial growth included having meat packing and shipping facilities for Thomas Worthington's Chillicothe farm, located north of Portsmouth on the Scioto River. Portsmouth growth continued with the completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal,[8] and the construction of the N&W railyards and the B&O junction. By the end of the 19th Century, Portsmouth became one of the most important cities between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. By 1916, Portsmouth was listed as being a major industrial and jobbing center, with it being the fourth largest shoe manufacturing center in the country, the largest manufacturer of fire and paving bricks in the United States, having Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel and later called Empire-Detroit Steel employing over a thousand, and having over 100 other manufacturing companies producing goods from furniture to engines.[9]

Industrial and shipping growth greatly benefited Boneyfiddle (which is a west-end neighborhood in Portsmouth), where grand buildings were constructed with the wealth from the commerce. As time passed, much of the commerce began to move towards Chillicothe Street, which is still today the main thoroughfare of Portsmouth. While Boneyfiddle is receiving new life, it is a shadow of its former self. Another notable part of Portsmouth's history in the 19th century was its importance on the Underground Railroad. It was located on a route that continued north to Detroit and into Canada.[10]


By 1950, the population had passed its peak of approximately 42,000. Foreign competition eventually caused most of the industry on which Portsmouth's economy was based to move out of the area. A major blow came in 1980 when Empire-Detroit Steel-Portsmouth Works suspended local operations after the sale of the steel plant to Armco Steel (now AK Steel). Armco Steel closed the plant because they did not want to replace the obsolete Open Hearth Furnaces with the more efficient basic oxygen steel furnaces and the plant needed a continuous caster to replace the obsolete soaking pits and blooming mill in 1995. When the steel mill was closed, 1,300 steelworkers were laid off. With a current population of approximately 20,000, the city is not far removed from many small cities along the Ohio River valley, sharing many of the same problems in an era of unskilled labor outsourcing and population migration to more urban areas with the subsequent loss of both skilled and unskilled labor.

Prescription drug epidemic

Unintentional prescription drug deaths by county for the years 2004 to 2008

Since the late 1990s an epidemic of prescription drug abuse has swept the town and surrounding areas.[12] It has caused a dramatic increase in Hepatitis C cases,[13] drug related deaths,[14] robberies,[15][16][17] murder,[18] and an increased incidence of children born addicted to prescription drugs.[12] The most prevalent drug is OxyContin, a synthetic opiate originally developed as a cancer drug, known colloquially as oxys and hillbilly heroin (because of the drugs association with Appalachian areas of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia).[19] The crisis is blamed on the proliferation of cash-only pain clinics, known as "pill mills" by locals. According to authorities there are as many as eight of the clinics in Scioto County alone,[14] the largest concentration of such operations per capita in any of Ohio's counties.[20] The clinics began opening up in the late 1990s, after state legislators passed a law stating that doctors could not be prosecuted for prescribing painkillers as long as they had examined and documented that a patient was in intractable pain and needed the medication.[21] The slightly more than half a dozen pain clinics dispense nearly 35 million pills a year,[12] or according to 2008 state pharmacy board statistics roughly 460 pills for every resident in a county of 76,000 people.[22] The geographic location has played a role in the size of the problem. Because it sits at the junction of three states and on the routes of several north-south and east-west highways, Portsmouth has become a distribution point for more than just the local area. The separate state jurisdictions do not track prescriptions amongst themselves which makes it harder to tell where the prescriptions are going. Also generations of poverty have helped to create an underground economy which lends itself to the distribution of illegal substances.[22] As of spring 2011 the county has had more than 120 drug related deaths over the preceding decade,[12] and in 2009 had the second-highest death rate in the state from accidental drug overdoses, even though it is sparsely populated compared to the urban population centers of the state.[23] According to Lisa Roberts, a registered nurse with the Portsmouth City Health Department, on top of the high death rates, Southern Ohio also distributes four times as many prescription drugs as Northern Ohio.[11] Local deaths from a lethal drug combination of opiates, sedatives and muscle relaxants are so common that locals have dubbed it the Portsmouth Cocktail.[12] Admissions into rehab facilities for painkiller addictions in the town are five times the national average.[24] Almost one in 10 infants born in Scioto County in recent years has been addicted to prescription drugs.[24] Because of the extent of the problem, the Drug Enforcement Administration has listed Scioto County on its watch list of the 10 most-significant places in the country for trafficking in prescription drugs.[14] In February 2011 a film crew from NBC Universal was in town filming for the cable television show Intervention on A&E.[25] On April 11, 2011 the show aired as a special episode Intervention In-Depth: Hillbilly Heroin, and dealt with the effects of prescription drug abuse on residents of the town and surrounding area.[26]

In 2007 Paul Volkman, a doctor from Chicago who had worked at a pain clinic in Portsmouth since 2003, was indicted. He went to trial in February 2011 at the federal court in Cincinnati.[27] Volkman was convicted of 18 counts of illegal prescription drug distribution, and was found guilty in connection with the deaths of four of his patients, although he is suspected of causing almost 20 deaths. He faces from 20 years to life in prison.[28]

In 2011 the DEA and state and local law enforcement agencies began to crack down on the problem in the area. On May 17, 2011 the DEA served Immediate Suspension Orders (suspension of their license to practice medicine) on 4 local doctors and pharmacy in Scioto County, including Dr. Margy Temponeras. In a press release about the situation, the DEA described Temponeras as one of the largest dispensers of controlled substances in the US.[29]

The DEA also served ISOs on 3 other doctors, John Temponeras, Mark Fantazuzzi, and Michael Dawes and a pharmacy, Prime Pharmacy, located at 902 Fourth Street in Portsmouth.[29] The ISOs were issued by the DEA after a preliminary finding determined that the continued registration of the doctors and pharmacy constituted an imminent danger to public health and safety. They prohibit the parties from possessing or dispensing controlled substances, pending the outcome of ongoing investigations.[30] As a result of the ISO, Dr. John Temponeras resigned from his position at the Southern Ohio Medical Center.[31]

Problems of prescription drug abuse led to the creation of the

  • Official website
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Scioto County Rx Drug Action Team Community Take Back Project 2010
  • Scioto County Health Coalition

External links

  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010".  
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  3. ^ "Population Estimates".  
  4. ^ a b c "American FactFinder".  
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ Ohio Historical Society. "Alexandria". Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  8. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. "Portsmouth". Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  9. ^ Norfolk and Western Railway Company. Agricultural and Industrial Dept. Industrial and shippers guide. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  10. ^ Ohio Historical Society. "Portsmouth". Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  11. ^ a b Erika K.; Scott B.; Valeria W., "Pain Clinics, Painkiller Addiction, and a Petition to Fight Both", Rehab Journal (The Canyon), retrieved 2011-04-13 
  12. ^ a b c d e Aaron Marshall (February 28, 2011). "Young lives wrecked by prescription drug epidemic in Southern Ohio".  
  13. ^ Aaron Marshall (February 26, 2011). "Prescription drug epidemic brings Southern Ohio county to its knees".  
  14. ^ a b c Holly Zachariah (February 7, 2010). "Illegal prescription-drug trade now epidemic".  
  15. ^ Randy Yohe. "Violent Crime Wave Has Portsmouth Police Overwhelmed".  
  16. ^ Gary Cohen (February 4, 2001). "The "Poor Man's Heroin":An Ohio surgeon helps feed a growing addiction to OxyContin".  
  17. ^ Frank Lewis (February 1, 2011). "Horner talks about crime wave". The Portsmouth Daily Times. Retrieved 2011-04-12. I think that we are seeing a concentration in a short period of time of gun-related crimes," Horner said. "And historically we have had gun-related crimes in the area of drugs. It has been five or six years ago that we had that rash of murders. That was the same time that we felt that we needed to get that tax levy through for just drug investigators. Obviously it went down, and there are a lot of factors that play into the situation today – obviously the economic times that we are in – at the depressed area that we are in, the increasing use of drugs, specifically prescription medications – Oxycontin and Oxycodone. 
  18. ^ "Crime in Portsmouth, Ohio (OH): Murders, Rapes, Robberies, Assaults, Burglaries, Thefts, Auto thefts, Arson, Law Enforcement Employees, Police officers". Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  19. ^ Paul Tough (July 29, 2001). "The alchemy of OxyContin".  
  20. ^ "Growing Concern Over 'Pill Mills' In Ohio".  
  21. ^ Melody Petersen (January 31, 2011). "Pain Killers".  
  22. ^ a b Aaron Marshall (February 26, 2011). "Prescription drug epidemic brings Southern Ohio county to its knees".  
  23. ^ Holly Zachariah (October 27, 2010). """Portsmouth goes after "pill mills.  
  24. ^ a b Andrew Welsh-Huggins (December 22, 2010). "Ohio county fights extreme pill addiction abuse".  
  25. ^ Wayne Allen. Hillbilly Heroin' to air April 11: A&E's special filmed here in February"'". The Portsmouth Daily Times. Retrieved 2011-04-13. 
  26. ^ Hillbilly Heroin,  
  27. ^ "Chicago Doctor Accused of Distributing Millions of Illegal Pain Pills".  
  28. ^ Chuck Goudie (May 11, 2011). "Doc from Chicago convicted of running giant 'pill mill'".  
  29. ^ a b c "BREAKING NEWS: Federal Agents Search Wheelersburg Doctor's Office".  
  30. ^ Allison Wenger (May 17, 2011). "4 Ohio Doctors, 1 Pharmacy Lose Licences For Controlled Substances: Not Allowed To Distribute Or Prescribe Schedule II-V Drugs". NBC 4 ( 
  31. ^ "Dr. John Temponeras resigns from SOMC following raid on doctors' offices and pharmacy".  
  32. ^ Kephas, Eric. "SOLACE hits the statehouse, stresses depth of local drug problem". Portsmouth Daily Times. 
  33. ^ Kephas, Eric. "After a year, SOLACE boasts accomplishments". Portsmouth Daily Times. 
  34. ^ Allen, Wayne. "SOLACE celebrates opening of new office". Portsmouth Daily Times. 
  35. ^ Allen, Wayne. "SOLACE working on drug abuse documentary". Portsmouth Daily Times. 
  36. ^ Kephas, Eric. "A stronger Scioto: Let's build one together". Portsmouth Daily Times. 
  37. ^ Allen, Wayne. "Drug prevention levy fails". Portsmouth Daily Times. 
  38. ^ "Senate passes pain clinic legislation; Kasich could sign into law this week".  
  39. ^ Frank Lewis (May 21, 2011). "Pill mill crackdown: Kasich signs House Bill 93 to regulate pain clinics".  
  40. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  41. ^ "Number of Inhabitants: Ohio" (PDF). 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  42. ^ "Ohio: Population and Housing Unit Counts" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  44. ^ "Level III Ecoregions of Ohio". National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  45. ^ "Mayor's Office". 
  46. ^ Scioto County Board of Elections (November 3, 2009). "Election Results" (PDF). Scioto County Board of Elections. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  47. ^ "USEC Portsmouth centrifuge plant project, USA".  
  48. ^ Access Scioto County (ASC)
  49. ^ a b Ohio High School Athletic Association. "Ohio High School Athletic Association". Retrieved 2007-05-17. 
  50. ^ OHSAA. "Ohio High School Athletic Association Web site
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ "Multiple Factors Cited by Jurors". The Community Common( July 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  54. ^ "City School Earn Top Design Award". The Community Common( July 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  55. ^ a b Wayne Allen (July 13, 2007). "City Schools Facility Awaits Council". The Community Common( Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  56. ^ "High School Hoimetown-Portsmouth celebrating new stadium WOWK tv". Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  57. ^ Ryan Scott Ottney (July 15, 2009). "PHS names complex". Portsmouth Daily Times. 
  58. ^ Ryan Scott Ottney (June 25, 2009). "A Pictures Worth". Portsmouth Daily Times. 
  59. ^ a b Frank Lewis. "Fire Decimates Columbia". Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^ Edna Carter Southard, ed. (1982). Portsmouth: Architecture in an Ohio River Town. Oxford, OH: Miami University Art Museum.  
  63. ^ Hartman, Steve (March 28, 2008). "An Epic Battle Over A Rock".  
  64. ^ "Portsmouth Area Resource Guide 2007–2008". The Community Common. July 29, 2007. p. 4. 
  65. ^ Jeff Barron (July 27, 2007). "City to Repair Stars". Portsmouth Daily Times. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  66. ^ Phyllis Noah (August 27, 2006). "Diverse Display". Portsmouth Daily Times. 
  67. ^ "Scioto County, Ohio-The Mural Project". Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  68. ^ Wayne Allen (August 19, 2007). "Newest Mural Honors TOSRV". CommunityCommon. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  69. ^ Ohio Historical Society. "National Football League". Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  70. ^ Chris Murphy. "Portsmouth Spartans Historical Society". Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  71. ^ Portsmouth Daily Times
  72. ^ Community Common
  73. ^ Scioto Voice
  74. ^ University Chronicle


See also

Portsmouth has three sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

Sister cities

Notable people

Portsmouth is near the dividing line for several television markets, including Columbus, Cincinnati, and Huntington-Charleston. There are two local television stations including WTZP, an America One affiliate, and WQCW, a CW affiliate. Portsmouth is also served by WPBO, a PBS affiliate. Programs airing on WPBO are broadcast by WOSU in Columbus. Local radio stations WIOI, WNXT, WNKE, WZZZ, and WOSP-FM serve the radio listeners in the city. Portsmouth is also served by three newspapers. The Portsmouth Daily Times[71] is the city's only daily newspaper. The Community Common[72] is a free biweekly newspaper and the Scioto Voice[73] is a weekly newspaper, which is mailed to subscribers. The University Chronicle[74] is the student-led newspaper at Shawnee State University.


Portsmouth had a series of semi-pro football teams in the 1920s and 1930s, the most notable being the Portsmouth Red Birds, a minor league team owned by the St. Louis Cardinals. In the late 1990s Portsmouth was home to the Superstar Wrestling Federation before its demise. More recently Revolutionary Championship Wrestling has made its home in Portsmouth airing on local TV station WQCW. Revolutionary Championship Wrestling in Portsmouth has featured such wrestling stars as Big Van Vader, Jerry "The King" Lawler, Demolition Ax, "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton, "Wildcat" Chris Harris, and Ivan Koloff.

Professional sports

The original mural project was finished in the fall of 2003. Since then several additional panels have been added, including murals honoring Portsmouth's baseball heroes in 2006 and the Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV), a bicycle tour between Columbus and Portsmouth in 2007.[68]

In 1992 a nonprofit group headed by Dr. Louis R. Chaboudy was formed to investigate a mural based tourist attraction on the floodwall. In the spring of 1993, mural artist Robert Dafford was commissioned and began painting murals of Portsmouth's history. He hired local art student Herb Roe as an assistant. Roe subsequently apprenticed to and worked for Dafford for 15 years.[66] The project eventually spanned sixty 20 feet (6.1 m) tall consecutive Portsmouth murals, stretching for over 2,000 feet (610 m).[67] Subjects covered by the murals span the history of the area from the ancient mound building Adena and Hopewell cultures to modern sporting events and notable natives. These subjects include:

Even though the city was on higher ground, it was still prone to flooding. The city had great deal of flooding in 1884, 1913, and 1937. After the flood of 1937, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a floodwall protecting the city, which prevented two major floods in 1964 and 1997. In 1992, the city of Portsmouth began honoring some of the many accomplishments of its area natives by placing a star on the riverside of the floodwall, known as the Portsmouth Wall of Fame and instituted by then mayor Frank Gerlach. Some of the honorees include Don Gullett, Al Oliver, and former United States Vice-President Dan Quayle, who was not a Portsmouth native.[65]

Mural commemorating the Portsmouth Earthworks, a series of Hopewell mounds over which the town was constructed

Floods and floodwalls

Portsmouth has fourteen parks for its residents and community use. These parks include Alexandria Park (Ohio and Scioto River confluence), Bannon Park (near Farley Square), Branch Rickey Park (on Williams Street near levee), Buckeye Park (near Branch Rickey Park), Cyndee Secrest Park (Sciotoville), Dr. Hartlage Park (Rose Street in Sciotoville), Labold Park (near Spartan Stadium), Larry Hisle Park (23rd Street & Thomas Ave.), Mound Park (17th & Hutchins Streets), York Park (riverfront), Spartan Stadium, Tracy Park (Chillicothe & Gay Streets), and Weghorst Park (Fourth & Jefferson Streets).[64]

City parks

The Indian Head Rock is an eight-ton sandstone boulder which until recently resided in the bottom of the Ohio River. The removal of the rock, has led the states of Kentucky and Ohio into a legislative battle to determine its ownership and disposition.[63] The rock has now been returned to the state of Kentucky.

Indian Head Rock

Many historical buildings in Portsmouth have been demolished because of poor upkeep, other city improvements, or the completion of other buildings that replaced the landmarks. Landmarks that have been demolished include the old Norfolk & Western rail depot, churches dating back to the early 20th century, houses that dated back to the 1850s, Grant Middle School, and currently the old Portsmouth High School and various elementary schools. Nevertheless, there are many buildings still standing in the city that date back to the early 19th century. Old churches still stand as a reminder of Portsmouth's past and identity. Along with the Columbia Theater, which was given a major facelift after it went through a fire.[59][60][61] other buildings include the old monastery, which can be seen for miles, Spartan Stadium, and numerous buildings in the Boneyfiddle Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1982, students from Miami University conducted research on several of Portsmouth's most important historic buildings. This work resulted in an exhibition at the Miami University Art Museum and a book entitled Portsmouth: Architecture in an Ohio River Town.[62] See also List of Registered Historic Places in Ohio, Scioto County The Portsmouth Public Library, the city's only public library, was founded in 1879; it has branch libraries throughout Scioto County. The Southern Ohio Museum, founded in 1979, has over sixty exhibits on display including artwork by Clarence Holbrook Carter and Jesse Stuart, China dolls, Native American artifacts, and works by local artists.

The recently renovated and historic, Columbia Music Hall. Formerly The Columbia. Unfortunately, the structure was damaged by fire on November 11, 2007, and has since been repaired and converted into an outdoor theatre.[59]

Buildings and landmarks


Notre Dame (Catholic) Schools(formerly Portsmouth Central Catholic HS) have served the city's Roman Catholics and others since 1852. It is also notable for its football team founded in 1929. It has won two state championships in 1967 and 1970.[49]

Portsmouth Notre Dame HS

In 2009 the school system completed construction on a new $10 million athletic complex. The 25-acre (10 ha) Clark Athletic Complex[56] has a new football field, baseball field, softball field, tennis courts, and track.[55] The complex is named for Clyde and Maycel Clark of the Clark Foundation, major financial contributors for the construction of the facility.[57] The new complex, situated on the location of the former high school building and across the street from the current high school, also sports three new paintings by mural artist Herb Roe, a 1992 Portsmouth High School alumni.[58] The murals depict three of the sports played at the new facility, a baseball game, a tennis match, and a football game.

Clark Athletic Complex

Portsmouth has one public and one private school system. The Portsmouth City School District has served the city since its founding in the 1830s and is the public school in the city. Portsmouth City School District is notable having a storied basketball tradition by winning four OSHAA State Basketball Championships in 1931, 1961, 1978, and 1988.[49] The Trojan basketball team has made 14 final four appearances, they are 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1931 (1st), 1934 (2nd), 1939, 1941, 1961 (1st), 1978 (1st), 1980 (2nd), 1988 (1st), 1990 (2nd).[50] and 2012 (2nd). The Trojan football team has also produced some notable teams as of late with the an Associated Press Division 3 State Champions in 2000, a regional title, and state semi-final appearance in 2000, and finishing as regional runner up in both 2001, and 2002. In all the Trojans football team has sent 5 teams to the post season since 2000, as of the start of the 2009 season.[51][52] In 2000, Portsmouth voters passed a much needed school bond issue, which helped construct new schools for the district. The new schools opened for the 2006–2007 school year. These schools won the Grand Prize from School Planning & Management's 2007 Education Design Showcase. The award is awarded annually to the K-12 school that displays "excellence in design and functional planning directed toward meeting the needs of the educational program."[53][54] In addition, the school system plans to build a new $10 million athletic complex.[55] Portsmouth High School has an award winning Interactive Media program that has won multiple awards for both video and graphic design. The class is under the direction of Chris Cole and the students run the local cable station TNN CH25.

Mural in the new high school of the school mascot Trojans. Artist Herb Roe

K-12 schools

Portsmouth used to be home to Ohio University Southern Campus; however, it moved to Ironton (Lawrence County) in the early 1980s. The former Ohio University buildings became home to Shawnee State Community College, which in 1986, through the diligent efforts of then Ohio House Speaker Vern Riffe became Shawnee State University, Ohio's thirteenth and newest institution.

Colleges and universities


Public transportation for Portsmouth and its outlying areas is offered through Access Scioto County (ASC).[48]

Public transportation

Portsmouth is served by the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport (PMH), a general aviation airport. The airport is located in Minford, Ohio, approximately 12 miles (19 km) northeast of the city. The nearest commercial airport is Tri-State Airport (HTS) in Huntington, West Virginia, approximately 53 miles (85 km) southeast of the city.


Portsmouth is an important location in the Norfolk Southern Railway network. Norfolk Southern operates a railyard and locomotive maintenance facility for its long distance shipping route between the coalfields of West Virginia and points east, to the Great Lakes. Competitor CSX Transportation operates a former Chesapeake & Ohio Railway line just east of the city in Sciotoville, which crosses the Ohio River on the historic Sciotoville Bridge. Amtrak offers passenger service to the Portsmouth area on its Cardinal route between New York City and Chicago. The passenger station is located on CSX Transportation-owned track in South Shore, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Portsmouth.


Portsmouth is served by two major U.S. Routes: 23 and 52. Other significant roads include Ohio State Routes 73, 104, 139, 140, and 335. The nearest Interstate highway is I-64. Interstate 73 is planned to use the newly built Portsmouth bypass en-route from North Carolina To Michigan. The I-74 Extension is planned to use US 52 through Portsmouth, running concurrently with I-73 on the eastern side of Portsmouth


A nightly view of the newly built U.S. Grant Bridge carrying U.S. 23 over the Ohio River.


Graf Brothers Flooring and Lumber, the world's largest manufacturer of rift and quartered oak products, has two satellite log yards in Portsmouth, with the company's main office being located across the river in South Shore, Kentucky. Portsmouth was also the home of Mitchellace Inc., the largest manufacturer of shoelaces in the world.

Portsmouth major employers include Southern Ohio Medical Center, United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), Shawnee State University, Norfolk Southern Corp.(Railroad), Southern Ohio Correctional Facility and OSCO Industries. In November 2002, the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in nearby Piketon, Ohio was recognized as an Nuclear Historic Landmark by the American Nuclear Society. It had served a military function from 1952 until the mid-1960s when the mission changed from enriching uranium for nuclear weapons to one focused on producing fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant ended enriching operations in 2001 and began to support operational and administrative functions and perform external contract work. All uranium enrichment in the area has been taken over by a sister plant in Paducah, Kentucky. Uranium enrichment functions had previously been shared by the two plants. USEC interests in the area remain strong with the American Centrifuge Plant under construction in Piketon. This commercial uranium enrichment facility was expected to employ up to 500 people and reach an initial annual production level of 3.8 million SWU by 2012.[47]


Portsmouth is the county seat for Scioto County. The courthouse is located at the corner of Sixth and Court Streets and was constructed in 1936. The sheriff's office and county jail, once located in the courthouse, is now located in a new facility in the same location where the Norfolk and Western rail depot used to stand near U.S. 23. It was constructed in 2006.

Scioto County Courthouse

County government

Ward City Councillor
First Ward Kevin W. Johnson
Second Ward Rich Saddler
Third Ward Kevin E. Johnson
Fourth Ward Jim Kalb (Acting Mayor)
Fifth Ward Gene Meadows
Sixth Ward Jeff Kleha

City Manager is Derek K. Allen.[45]

The city charter was originally adopted on November 6, 1928. The city conducts business at their city hall which was constructed in 1935. City council meetings are held during the second and fourth weeks in the month. The city reverted from being run by a city manager to a mayor in 1988 with the mayor being elected every four years. Voters approved returning to a City Manager/Council form of government in 2012; which took effect in January 2014. Under the City Manager/Council system, the mayor and vice-mayor are elected members of the city council and are appointed to their positions by the council. The city manager is hired by and reports directly to the council. The city manager oversees the day-to-day operations of city government and is the direct supervisor of all city department heads. There are six wards in the city with elections of the wards every two years.

Portsmouth City Hall

City government


  • Sciotoville-Located 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Portsmouth off US 52 at Ohio 335 and is in the city limits of Portsmouth with a narrow strip of land connecting the main city that goes around the village of New Boston.
  • Boneyfiddle-Located just a couple blocks west of downtown Portsmouth at the Market St./2nd St. intersection.
  • Alexandria-Located at the Scioto River and Ohio River confluence at the Front St./Scioto St. intersection.
  • Rosemount-Located 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Portsmouth on US 23 and Old Scioto Trail. Rosemount is outside the city limits of Portsmouth but a significant residential area in the Portsmouth area.
  • Hilltop- Residential neighborhoods in Portsmouth located north of 17th St., west of Thomas Ave and east of Scioto Trail.
  • West Portsmouth is located west of Portsmouth, across the Scioto River and is an unincorporated area with a substantial population that is a part of the Portsmouth area. West Portsmouth is on Ohio 104 and US 52 and is at the beginning of the old Ohio-Erie Canal. Remnants of the old canal can still be seen while traveling north along Ohio 104 and is mostly overgrown by trees.


Portsmouth is at the confluence of the Ohio, Scioto, and Little Scioto Rivers. Portsmouth is also a midway point between four major cities: Charleston, Cincinnati, Lexington and Columbus, all of which are approximately ninety miles away (roughly a two-hour drive). Much of the terrain is quite hilly due to dissected plateau around it. However, both rivers carve a river valley, making Portsmouth nestle between the Scioto and Ohio Rivers. It lies within the ecoregion of the Western Allegheny Plateau.[44] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.07 square miles (28.67 km2), of which 10.73 square miles (27.79 km2) is land and 0.34 square miles (0.88 km2) is water.[1]

A painting of the confluence of the Ohio and Scioto Rivers, showing the dissected plateau terrain and the Carl D. Perkins Bridge. Artist Herb Roe


The median income for a household in the city was $23,004, and the median income for a family was $31,237. Males had a median income of $31,521 versus $20,896 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,078. About 18.3% of families and 23.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.1% of those under age 18 and 14.5% of those age 65 or over.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 11.3% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 19.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 83.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.3 males.

There were 9,120 households out of which 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.9% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.8% were non-families. 37.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.87.

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 20,909 people, 9,120 households, and 5,216 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,941.4 people per square mile (749.6/km²). There were 10,248 housing units at an average density of 951.5 per square mile (367.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.50% White, 5.00% African American, 0.63% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.32% from other races, and 1.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.93% of the population.

2000 census

The median age in the city was 36.1 years. 21.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 14.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.6% were from 25 to 44; 24.2% were from 45 to 64; and 16.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.4% male and 53.6% female.

There were 8,286 households of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.9% were married couples living together, 17.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.2% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.93.

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 20,226 people, 8,286 households, and 4,707 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,885.0 inhabitants per square mile (727.8/km2). There were 9,339 housing units at an average density of 870.4 per square mile (336.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.1% White, 5.1% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.7% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.2% of the population.

2010 census


On May 17, 2011 the Ohio Senate unanimously (30–0) passed House Bill 93, a bill authored by Portsmouth's representative in the Ohio House, Dr. Terry Johnson, which dealt with the regulation of pain clinics. The legislation, which unanimously passed the House as well, called for a performance analysis of the Ohio Automated Rx Review System, limits the ability of prescribers to personally furnish controlled substances, reforms Medicaid provisions to improve consumer education, improves licensing and law enforcement issues related to pain-management clinics and calls for the development of a statewide prescription drug "take-back" program.[38] The amended bill was returned to the Ohio House where the Senates changes were voted upon and the amended bill was signed into law by Governor John Kasich Friday May 20, 2011.[39]


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