Marietta, Ohio, June 2021


I stand next to a bridge over the Ohio River leading into West Virginia.

Historic Marietta Has a Fun Bike Trail

By Anna Krejci

June 2021

“Adventure Starts in Marietta,” says a sign in this southeastern Ohio border city.  On my recent trip to Marietta, Ohio, I saw many things: museums, ethnic restaurants, a newsstand, a bridge leading to West Virginia and boats on the Muskingum and Ohio rivers; the two rivers meet at Marietta.  I would be remiss not to mention that Marietta is home to Marietta College, so the city of 13,000 people has a cultured vibe.

The city of Marietta is rich in history.  It was the first U.S. settlement in the Northwest Territory, and it traces its history almost as far back as the American War of Independence.  Ex-officers from the Revolutionary War settled on land in Marietta that was given to them by the government after their military service.  According to the website, Ohio Memory, the city of Marietta was named in honor of Marie Antoinette, who was the queen of France during the American Revolutionary War.  Under her reign, France provided aid to the Thirteen Colonies in their fight for independence from England.

The city offers much to tourists. Two museums that I went to include the Campus Martius Museum and the Ohio River Museum.  The Campus Martius Museum teaches about Rufus Putnam, who served in the Revolutionary War and then oversaw the settlement’s establishment, and The Ohio River Museum informs about the history of boat travel and the river.  I liked stepping into Peoples News, a shop selling books, newspapers, magazines and, not to forget to mention, the candy that my husband enjoyed.  Myself interested in global issues, I picked up a copy of the journal, Foreign Affairs, to read after dinner.

Of all the things I did during this visit, my favorite part was riding a bicycle on a lovely trail by the rivers. Warm weather on a sunny weekday in June made the conditions perfect.  I rode bikes with my husband.  We rented them from Marietta Adventure Company and walked our bikes to the trail, which was winding and under a mix of sun and shade.  The breeze I generated as I rode was a wash of mild and comfortable air.  It thrilled me!  We passed bridges and neighborhoods where porches faced the river.  It convinced me the river was a main attraction of this town.  In addition to passing by the downtown businesses, we passed through a park, which was beautifully landscaped.  As bicyclists, we shared the paved trail with pedestrians, but not with cars.  I traveled at moderate speed, and it made me feel free. I don’t ride frequently, so renting a bicycle was the right choice for me.  The trail was flat, so I did not overexert myself.  It was a treat.  As a convenient mode of travel, I could pull over and stop to look at my surroundings and not worry about holding up foot traffic or other bicyclists.

As I cycled, could I imagine the settlers building their lives and settlement here in 1788?  The linkages to France and America about Marietta fascinated me.  Residents in the late 1700s had a liking toward the French queen, given that her country helped America win its independence.  But the feeling of worldliness I had in Marietta did not stop with that history.  Once home and after reflecting on my trip, I realized there was something else about France that interested me.  About 100 years after Marie Antoinette lived, and perhaps made more possible after the French Revolution, France became an innovation incubator for the velocipede, the forerunner to the bicycle. According to the Charleston County Public Library’s website, the invention’s credit goes to a German who patented it in 1818 in France.  Initially, the design required riders to propel themselves with their own feet pushing off the ground.  In the 1860s improvements were made.  Engineers in Paris obtained a new patent on a rotary crank and pedals that made the velocipede more like a modern-day bicycle - and increased its speed. The velocipede’s popularity in France in the 1860s was considerable.  By 1868, the popularity had spread to the United States. Residents in cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago rode them.

It took time for the layout of U.S. cities to accommodate the bicycle.  How lucky I was that in 2021, Marietta was conducive to cycling during my visit.  It had a network of trails on the outskirts as well, which was better suited for mountain bike riders.  I explored Marietta adventurously by bicycle, and there was so much knowledge to discover too.  The connections we have to other countries amaze me.  History fascinates me.  Place names intrigue me.  Learning it seemed so adventurous.


Works Cited

Birkhimer, Lily. “Settling Marietta.” Ohio Memory, 8 Apr. 2016,

“The Velocipede Invasion of 1869.” Charleston County Public Library, 2022,