MARIETTA The Campus Martius and Ohio River museums will have free admission on Saturday for the Smithsonian Museum's National Museum Day.
"We heard about National Museum Day, and thought it would be great to participate in this and make it maybe an annual event," said Le Ann Hendershot, the museums' director.
Visitors to the Campus Martius will be treated to three floors of historical exhibits showcasing the Northwest Territory and the city of Marietta, the territory's first settlement organized under the Ordinance of 1787. The Rufus Putnam House that was part of the Campus Martius fortification is the highlight of the tour.
"The house is actually enclosed in the museum," Hendershot said. "Visitors get to learn about a house that is over 200 years old."
Special exhibits on display at Campus Martius include "Touched by Conflict: Southeastern Ohio & the Civil War" and the "William G. Smith Geology Collection."
"Touched by Conflict" is about the private lives of Civil War officers and privates like Harmar native Benjamin Dana Fearing.
If You Go
Regional museums with free admission Saturday:
Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, 13515 Yarmouth Drive, Pickerington, Ohio; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; (614) 856-2222.
Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St., Columbus; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; (614) 292-3535.
National Barber Museum, 2 South High St., Canal Winchester, Ohio; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; (614) 837-8400.
West Virginia State Museum, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, Charleston; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; (304) 558-0220.
To download a ticket good for free admission for two at one of these participating museums go to: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/ticket/.
"We have a lot of items from Fearing, who starts out in the beginning of the war as a private, and at end of the war was brigadier general," said Bill Reynolds, historian at Campus Martius and Ohio River museums.
Many Civil War-era photographic images from the Marietta area are also on display including a photograph of the gunboat Naumkeg that was employed to block General John Hunt Morgan from an Ohio River crossing.
"The photographer's comment says 'This is the only gunboat that ever landed at Marietta during the Civil War,'" said Reynolds.
Campus Martius visitors will be awed by the minerals and fossils on loan from Marietta College's Geology Department.
"It's a wow thing, it's awesome because of all the colors and the shapes (of items)," Hendershot said.
With three buildings in all, the Ohio River Museum focuses on the Ohio River's origins and natural history, the history of the steamboat, boat building and more.
Current exhibits at the Ohio River Museum are "The Ritts' W.P. Snyder Jr. Legacy" and "The Schoonover Shanty Boat." Both are Sons & Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen exhibits.
The W.P. Snyder Jr. is the last steamboat that Crucible Steel Company operated on the Ohio River to move coal to power its steel-making operation.
"It's the only steamboat of its kind left in the world," said Reynolds.
The exhibit includes objects and photographs from the steamboat.
"Some of the pictures are really neat because they put you back in the time when the pictures were taken," Hendershot said.
"The Schoonover Shanty Boat" will chronicle the restoration of an actual shanty boat formerly docked on the Muskingum River above Beverly that dates back to 1910 to 1920.
Hendershot said she hopes many first-time visitors will come to the Campus Martius and Ohio River museums Saturday.
"You need to come and take a look at what we have here," Hendershot said. "And you don't have to use any gas to get here."
"It's a one-of-a-kind boat," said Hendershot. "You don't find these around anywhere, they're all gone."
Shanty boat owners were "very free spirits, early hippies almost," said Jeff Spear, an officer with Sons & Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen.
"These people lived a life of their own. They flew under the radar, and hid out from taxes and government of any kind," Spear said.