Ohio State Route 104:

"Columbus Pike" and Camp Sherman

Adapted and expanded from draft for a CRM report for ASC Group, Inc., 2000

Pre-Settlement Era (including Pioneer Era)

to about 1795

State Route 104 is one of two parallel routes in the Scioto Valley (Map A, B). Typical of large valleys such as the Maumee and Ohio, the Scioto Valley has a route on each side of its valley flat. Both routes are probably equally old, and both were probably equally used. Between Columbus and Portsmouth, State Route 104 is the western of the two, with U.S. Route 23 the eastern. Thus the predecessor of State Route 104 is here referred to as the Western Scioto Valley Route.

The Western Scioto Valley Route would have originated as a trail on the west side of the valley, located primarily on the upper terraces of the valley for better drainage. This trail is indicated, though at a small scale and with little detail, by Lewis & Dawley (ca. 1902) [Map C]. It was probably developed originaly by herd animals migrating between grazing land, water supplies, and mineral deposits. Later, generations of prehistoric and historic Native Americans would have optimized the route for their cultural needs, which would have been similar to the animals' needs or near to them. Since the Native Americans would have moved on foot, and later sometimes on horseback, the trail would have remained much the same as how the animals created it: a shallow, dished, earthen pathway. The trail, at a local level, would have conformed to the terrain as much as possible in order to maintain a dry and level route without compromising the directness of its course (cf Wallace 1965: 2).

Originally, for the Native Americans, the nearby destinations of the Western Scioto Valley Route were probably Native American camps or villages (Map C). The southern destination would have been where Chillicothe is now, either in the downtown at a probably nexus of trails (ongoing research, Kevin Coleman), or farther southeast, at what was later the settlement of Station Prairie near where Greenlawn Cemetery is (personal communication, John Grabb, local historian, ca. 1997).

The northern destination may have been one of the Shawnee towns named "Old Chillicothe," located on the southern edge of the Darby Plains (the western of the three Pickaway Plains). This was the location of the settlement-era town of Westfall in Pickaway County (Lewis & Dawley ca. 1902; Rittinger 1997: 42; Smith 1977: 65; [Pickaway County info]). Closer camps or secondary villages may have been near current Andersonville; at Deer Creek; or near current Yellowbud, all in Ross County [source?].

The more distant destinations of the Western Scioto Valley Route (Map C) would have been Pee Pee Prairie, between Waverly and Piketon in Pike County, to the south; and a camp or village at what was later Franklinton in what is now Columbus, to the north.

Settlement Era

about 1795 to about 1820

Immigration and settlement by Euro-Americans initiated modifications to the Western Scioto Valley Route to conform to their different places of settlement, different migration routes, and different means of transportation. Soon after the Treaty of Greenville permitted peaceful settlement in the area in 1795, this "Indian trail" would have begun its conversion into a road. Adjustments would have been made for use by horse-drawn vehicles such as carts and wagons. Settlements at Chillicothe in 1795 and 1796, and near the Pickaway Plains, allowed the route to remain active and on its pre-settlement course. The resulting road, referred to as the road from Chillicothe to Westfall, was surveyed for the Ross County Commissioners in September 1800 (Rittinger 1997: 19). It was also known as the Deer Creek Road, as it was the route from Chillicothe northward to an early settlement at Deer Creek in Ross County (Rittinger 1997:5).

There are no detailed maps illustrating the Western Scioto Valley Route at this stage. However, a state map from 1810 indicates that it was improved sometime between 1803 and 1810 by state funds, making it a state road (Map D). In contrast, the Eastern Scioto Valley Route (currently U.S. Route 23), was an important road but was only a county road, and not a state road, and apparently thus was secondary in the Scioto Valley in importance to the Western Scioto Valley Route (Gephart 1909: 57; Ohio Board of Public Works 1927).

The Phillips farmhouse (Map B) was a landmark house built in 1808, facing east, towards the Scioto River and towards the road as it was located then. The house was built by David Adams, and was later owned by the Erskine, DeWeese and Phillips families (Seeman 1981: 14). The house served as the headquarters of Camp Bull during the War of 1812, a British prisoner-of-war camp. The camp was located southeast of the current interchange of SR 104 and US Route 35, and has been obliterated by gravel mining (Medert 1992: 111). After an escape plan was revealed, four prisoners were shot by firing squad and were buried by the Scioto River. The flood of 1820 washed out their coffins and they were "reburied in a mound near the farmhouse" (Peck 1972: 20). It is unclear whether this was a natural hillock or a Native American earthwork.

Establishment Era

about 1820 to about 1850

The War of 1812 (1812 to 1814) marked the beginning of the end of the Settlement Era in this area, and began the Establishment Era. Establishment of agriculture encouraged and needed increased transportation as the economy grew. Thus, wagons carrying produce, and stagecoaches carrying passengers and mail, required better roads. This led to the Turnpike Era, beginning in the 1820s.

Although the road was apparently modified with a turnpike design, it never became a toll road (Rittinger 1997: 2). Apparently by 1820, the status of the two Scioto Valley routes appears to have reversed, and the Western Scioto Valley Route became secondary in importance in the valley (Gephart 1909: 139) [Map E]. Columbus and Circleville had been platted on the east side of the river, apparently drawing traffic north of Chillicothe to that side. Thus the east route became a turnpike; the west did not. At this time it probably began to be called the Franklinton Road or Franklinton Pike (Rittinger 1997: 2, 5).

Roads realigned in the early nineteenth century, whether improved into a turnpike ("piked") or simply repositioned, tended to be characterized by a tangential course. Such roads tend to be characterized by series of straight tangents from one terrain obstacle or settlement to another, unlike the weaving but generally straight course of an earlier trail, or the sinuous route of a later highway (personal knowledge, Kevin Coleman). This is illustrated on the Ohio Board of Public Works (1828) canal survey map, which illustrates the road as it was after being "piked" but before being realigned alongside the canal (Map F). This realignment probably occurred when it became a state road sometime between 1803 and 1810 (Gephart 1909: 57) [Map D].

A portion of the 1828 Ohio Board of Public Works canal survey map (Map F), showing part of Union Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA, and illustrating the road as it was after being "piked" but before being realigned alongside the canal.

The canal survey map indicates Franklinton Pike running northward from the grid plat of an early addition to Chillicothe, on a straight tangent to a point southeast of the study area (Map B, F). Then it bent and continued about 2.6 miles on another tangent to just past a small gully near where the south entrance to the Chillicothe Veterans Administration Hospital is now (Ohio Board of Public Works 1828). This kept the road east of where it is presently located. Then it continued on another tangent northward out of the study area, closely paralleling the current route. These tangents permitted it to remain level on the upper terrace, avoid a meander of the Scioto River and a gully, and yet keep a course as direct and short as possible.

The map also indicates the precursor to currrent Pleasant Valley Road, the "Old Town Road." "Old Town" was a Shawnee village in Ross County where the village of Frankfort was platted. This road veered off northwest on a tangent. Farther north, outside of the study area, the precursor to SR 207, the Urbana Road, also veered off to the northwest (Ohio Board of Public Works 1828).

The Phillips Farmhouse is conspicuously noted on the map (Map F). Its large size on the map and apparent Palladian footprint indicate that it must have been a significant landmark along the road (Ohio Board of Public Works 1828).

Another means of transportation that was built through the area was the canal. The canal survey map was surveyed for the Ohio & Erie Canal. Built from 1825 to the 1840s, the Ohio canal system consisted of two main canals and many public and private branch canals, totaling nearly 1,000 miles of waterways with almost 30 different names (Canal Society of Ohio 1975:4; Gieck 1992:199). The Ohio & Erie Canal, the eastern of the two main canals, ran from Lake Erie at Cleveland through Akron, Newark, Circleville, and Chillicothe to the Ohio River at Portsmouth. The canal was ceremonially begun July 4, 1825 near Newark, but actual construction began at Cleveland. The canal was opened in stages as each was completed; the entire canal, from Cleveland to Portsmouth, was operational in October 1832 (Canal Society of Ohio1975:6). The Ohio & Erie Canal was also known as the Ohio Canal.

This part of the Ohio & Erie Canal was surveyed in 1828 (Ohio Board of Public Works 1828), and construction was begun in the summer of 1829 (Grabb 1985: 4). The canal was gradually filled with water in a southward progression; the stretch north from Chillicothe became navigable on October 5, 1831 (Grabb 1985: 7). Two locks, Nos. 35 and 36, were required just north of Chillicothe, and their wastewater provided potential water power. A grist mill was built there in 1832 to use that water power. First owned by David Adams and named the Clinton Mill, it became a prominent landmark (Rittinger 1997: 3).

The canal survey map also hints at the route the road was to take after the canal was built. The route of the canal was dictated by the terrain more that that of the road, and so it took a slightly different course than the road (Map F). After the canal was built, the road was realigned to run alongside the canal. This appears to be a standard practice, which eliminated farmland trapped between the two routes, and reduced the amount of land that would be wasted in the right-of way alongside each separate route. The road ran northward along the west side of the canal and then crossed over just south of the locks, to where it remained on the east side. On the east side, the road has maintained this canal-side route to the present.

Canal Design and Construction

See "The Canal in Ohio," which the original section of this report was adapted from.

Squier & Davis's 1848 Survey

In 1848, Squier and Davis published their investigations of prehistoric earthworks. A detailed map of two earthworks in the Scioto Valley covers part of the study area (Squier and Davis 1848) (Map G). This indicates the arrangement of road and canal after canal construction, but also hints at the previous location of the road. When information from the 1828 canal survey map (Ohio Board of Public Works 1828) is superimposed on the Squier and Davis map, the previous location of the road appears to align with several earthwork features. It apparently passes through two gaps in the circular earthwork, and apparently passes between two small isolated mounds to the north. It also aligns with two buildings and even the treeline indicated beside Mound City. The treeline was probably a remnant of the relocated road.

Industrial Era

about 1850 to about 1865 and about 1865 to about 1895

Just north of where the road crossed over the canal was the Clinton Mill at the two locks. This conjunction of a road intersection, an industry, and a delay point on a canal provided an ideal location for a settlement. Thus, current Frenchtown was platted as "Adamsville" in 1853 and enlarged in 1859 (Rittinger 1997: 5-6) [Map B] [when was name changed? why?].

The Industrial Era arose as railroads began to be built, providing faster, larger, and more consistent transportation. The Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad, later a part of the B&O Railroad, was built in 1854 just south of the study area (Grabb 1985: 16) [Map B]. It necessitated a fill and bridge over the road and canal, which apparently did not alter the course of the road. The canal was apparently given a curve to allow boats to maneuver under its railroad overpass (Ohio Department of Public Works 1903). The railroad apparently had little other effect to the cultural landscape in the study area.

In the late nineteenth century, two maps were published that illustrate the entire county, as well as the study area: a county map (Walling 1860) [Map H] and a county atlas (Gould 1875) [Map I].

A portion of Walling's 1860 Ross County map (Map H), showing part of Union Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA.

A portion of Gould's 1875 Ross County atlas (Map I), showing part of Union Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA.

A local military company mustered at the Phillips farmhouse for the Civil War, and another for the Spanish-American War (Peck 1972).

What is now Pleasant Valley Road was piked as the Chillicothe & Frankfort Pike, with construction ending in 1869 (Rittinger 1997: 7). In 1881 the Ohio Legislature Passed a law permitting county commissioners to buy toll roads and make than free public roads. This was done with the Chillicothe & Frankfort Pike that year (Rittinger 1997: 7).

Early Twentieth Century:

about 1895 to about 1918,
and about 1918 to about 1930

The State of Ohio conducted a survey of most of the state-owned canals from 1892-1911, creating a 24-volume set of canal plat maps now held at the Ohio Historical Society (Ohio Department of Public Works 1904). These map indicates all structures on and directly associated with the canal, including lock walls, miter gates, regulating channels, tumbles, culverts, inlets, feeders, dams, basins, nearby streams, intersecting roads, and fencelines. Dimensions of channels and locks, and linear measurements along the canal are indicated. Some buildings are shown, but apparently only those abutting or immediately adjacent to the canal. The canal in the study area was surveyed in April 1901 (Map J).

[canal abandoned and drained 1914??]

A portion of Ohio Department of Public Works 1904 canal map (Map J), showing part of Union Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA.

With the popularity of bicycling and the growing availability of the automobile, improved roads became important in the 1900s and 1910s. In 1911, state roads were designated with numbers, and state funds were made available for their maintenance (Aumann 1954).

In 1911 Franklinton Pike was designated "Inter County Highway no. 453," running between Chillicothe and Columbus. What is now Pleasant Valley Road was designated Inter County Highway no. 29, and was additionally designated Main-Market Highway No. V, indicating that it was one of the major through-roads in the state (Ohio Department of Highways 1914) [Map K].

A pair of USGS topographic maps illustrates the area just before Camp Sherman was built (1917 "Chllicothe" and 1918 "Roxabell" 15 minute topographic quadrangle maps) [Map L]. A roadway is indicated on the west side of the canal north of Frenchtown. This is probably a farm road utilizing the beter-drained, raised berm or "heel path" along the canal prism.

A portion of the USGS "Camp Sherman" combined 15-minute topographic quadrangle maps (Map L), showing part of Union Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA.

Inter County Highway no. 453 has been designated State Route 104, and what is now Pleasant Valley Road was designated U.S. Route 35 in 1921 or 1925-1930 (Ohio Board of Inquiry 1938) verify date.

A Brief History of Camp Sherman

Camp Sherman was a major alteration to the landscape of the area, of which very little has survived. It covered almost all of the study area, except the north part. A map produced by the War Department in July 1918, and updated in 1920, depicts the camp and environs (Peck ---) (Map L).


Mid-Twentieth and Late Twentieth Century

about 1930 to about 1960

The importance of the roads increased as the railroads decreased, especially after the 1950s. The U.S. 35 Chillicothe bypass was built in the 1970s [when???]. State Route 104 south of Frenchtown was altered again, before or during the construction of the U.S 35 bypass [when???]. From the railroad overpass northward to the intersection with Pleasant Valley Road, the road was realigned eastward, avoiding Sherman Park. This was the third realignment of this segment since the construction of the canal in the 1820s.

A visitors center for Mound City was built in 1960, and further archaeological excavations began in 1963 (Peck 1972). [other construction?]

The federal government owned the U.S. Industrial Reformatory until 1966 [???]. At that time all federal prisoners were transferred out, and on December 1, 1968, the State of Ohio took possession, state prisoners were transferred in, and the prison was renamed the Chillicothe Correctional Institute (or C.C.I.) [personal communication, Lynn Goss, CCI warden's office, 2/11/00]. "Hammock Hall" them became the "Honor Dorm," an honor dormitory for minimal security prisoners. Some of those prisoners worked in the agricultural fields surrounding it and the prison, and every once in a while, one would escape by walking away (personal knowledge, Kevin Coleman). For approximately five years after the state took over, the Department of Mental Hygiene and Correction ran the reformatory. In the early 1970s, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction took over operations (Seeman 1981: 93).

A portion of the four USGS 7.5-minute topographic quadrangle maps , showing part of Union Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA.

The Ross Correctional Institution (RCI) was built on CCI farmland, and opened in 1987. CCI transferred farmland and its supervision to RCI, leaving CCI 72 acres (personal communication, Lynn Goss, CCI warden's office, 2/1/00). CCI's Honor Dorm continued in that role until November 1999, when it was largely vacated (personal communication, Joe Kinzer, CCI auto mechanic, 2/2/00). In 1995, the name of the Chillicothe Correctional Institute was changed to the Chillicothe Correctional Institution (personal communication, Lynn Goss, CCI warden's office, 2/11/00).

A portion of an 1999 aerial photos, showing a small part of Union Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA.

An aerial view looking north of State Route 104 along the Veterans Administration Medical Center golf course, showing a small part of Union Township, including the area in the above photo.

See also my "State Route 104 Preservation Web Page."

  • Westfall, Pickaway County, is a ghost village on SR 104.
  • Yellowbud, Union Township, Ross County (on the border with Pickaway County), is a village (?) on SR 104.
  • Andersonville, Union Township, Ross County, is a hamlet on SR 104.
  • Chillicothe, Ross County, is a city on SR 104.

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  • < Transp-Story-SR104.html > v1.1 - 7/5/04, 10/25/02, 7/23/02
    Intrepid Historical Services - Kevin B. Coleman - Columbus, Ohio, USA

    (Adapted 06/23/02 from "Ross 104 & Camp," entitled "A Brief History of State Route 104 - The Road and the Camp,"
    adapted from draft for CRM report for ASC Group, Inc., 2000 - First Draft - v 1.4, 1/26/2001 - previous edits 11/29/99, 2/16/2000