Colonel Ebenezer Zane founded Zanesville in 1800 as he was on his way to complete his trail across the new frontier known as Ohio. After receiving permission from Congress in 1796, Zane traveled down old Native American paths in order to create a trail into Ohio. The town was located at the junction of the Licking River with the Muskingum River. The name for his road and ferry service was Zane’s Trace.Zane requested and received from the American government land grants where the Trace crossed the Muskingum, Hocking and Scioto Rivers to pay for his surveying costs. It was here that he set up ferry services to get people across the rivers while bridges were being built.  In the early stages, Zane’s Trace was wide enough for only a horse and rider but not a wagon. The road eventually was used for the set up roads in the state and helped grow the city even more. Zane’s Trace, intermingled with what is now the National Road and Route 40, was the shortest distance between Wheeling and Limestown, Kentucky.

Current Ohio map shows Zane's Trace from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Zanesville, to Chillicothe and to Maysville, Kentucky.

Map of Zane’s Trace and some major cities it went through. Also shown is the National Road that was built thanks to the Trace.

By 1812, the population was around 1,400 which is a good bit for only becoming a town 12 years previously. In 1810, Zanesville replaced Chillicothe as Ohio’s capital city. The main reason for this change was an attempt by Democratic-Republicans in Ohio to solidify their control over eastern Ohio. The capital remained in Zanesville for two years and then was moved to Columbus as the permanent capital. Before the development of the roads using Zane’s Trace, the Muskingum River Canal was the most important highway in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. This river was vital to the people at this time because they depended on it to get their goods to markets and for irrigation of their farmlands.

Zanesville became an important commercial center in the region, with a number of skilled craftsmen and small shops located in the town. Businesses manufactured soap and candles, and the pottery industry capitalized on the plentiful clay in the region. In 1846, seven iron foundries operated in Zanesville, as well as one cotton mill, five flour mills, four sawmills, two oil processors, and one paper mill. Because of the city’s location along Zane’s Trace, the National Road, and the Muskingum River, Zanesville’s stores grew quickly and were able to reach other states with relative ease. This allowed the city to grow rapidly and gave the people more incentive to move to the growing town.

The most important industry in Zanesville during the second half of the nineteenth century was art pottery manufacturing. Samuel A. Weller became the community’s most important manufacturer in 1890, when he began production in Zanesville. The pottery industry treated Zanesville and the surrounding towns very well as they grew more popular and art museums became a staple for potters’ work. The city is even now known as the “Pottery Capital of the World” because of the amount of pottery and its popularity.

Zanesville has grown from a small town to a bustling small city in a matter of 200 years. Ever since 1800, the city has been a place for small businesses and is developing into an even larger city in the near future as construction continues. The changes have been evident as there used to be a large YMCA complex in the city but it was shut down and replaced by an American Pride, a mower/tractor company. This shows that the people of Zanesville value different things over the sports complex. The Fieldhouse on the edge of town is the massive sports complex that people tend to go to nowadays and was opened in 1990.

With the development of the city of Zanesville has come some downsides to the aesthetics of it. The streets are becoming one way so that people can pass through the town quicker without having to stop as much. This is causing people to be less interested in the city and some tourism goes down. Pedestrians are also not as safe on these roads because some do not have sidewalks and people can get hurt if they try to bike or walk in the wrong places. This is not to say that there is no place for pedestrians in the developing city. People can go to parks, like McIntire Park, or go to baseball stadiums, like Gant Stadium. There is also numerous areas with sidewalk, like the suburban area surrounding Zanesville. The Colony Square Mall opened up in 1981 and has been a hub for both teenagers and older people as a spot to hang out at on weekends. It has continued development over the years with the addition of the Planet Fitness, a large gym, in the last year.

Zanesville is a great developing city. In the next 20-25 years, I anticipate that it will develop much more and become more like Columbus in its structure and handling. The city has been one that has struggled to develop as quickly as New York City or Chicago but continues to slowly grow through the will of the people that live there. The people that do live in Zanesville (all 28,000 of them) all support the city in its endeavors to grow and become a better place to have families and bring up children.




Zane’s Trace

City Info

Muskingum County



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