Athens History, Ohio
Athens, OH was settled by Europeans in 1797 and became an official village in 1811. During this period of time, Ohio became a state in 1803 and in 1805 Athens became the county seat of Athens County.
The state received the land for the university by way of a federal grant making the university the first in the United States to receive its land from the government. The lands were sold and the state used the money for the growth of the university.
The first industries to develop in Athens were salt, iron, and coal. The Hocking Canal was opened in 1843 and allowed Athens to connect to the Ohio River by way of the Hocking River. This opened up many shipping opportunities for the area. The canal had to be closed when it froze over during cold winters but when the railroad extended to Athens in 1857 this took care of some of the shipping issues. A few years later, another railway was opened which connected Athens to a neighboring town. This railway was used for many years but has been closed down since.
Despite the fact that many parts of the United States have histories based in wars and battles, the city of Athens itself has a relatively peaceful history. There was a battle in 1904. Troops for the U.S. Army were both stationed in Athens for training. Some of the guardsmen became intoxicated and rowdy. They were then arrested by some of the Army officers. A fight followed the arrests which quickly turned into a full-scale battle. One guardsman died and several other soldiers and guardsmen were wounded.
By 1912, Athens had grown and was named a city. Around 50 years later, during the Cold War, Athens became the top choice for the alternate state capital just in case Columbus was damaged beyond quick repair by one or more Soviet nuclear bomb strikes. A drill was held so that the state’s governor and other government officers and employees could practice evacuating the statehouse in Columbus.
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