The Latest News from Historic Fort Steuben



The new year has blown in with snow, wind and bone-chilling cold – a reminder that with all our technology and science, we are still at the mercy of the weather, just as all humanity is and has been over the ages. As we shovel walkways or tread carefully over icy sidewalks, we can appreciate the struggles our forebears faced, including the soldiers who manned Fort Steuben over 230 years ago and the Hogue family who inhabited the First Federal Land Office.

Last year, I wrote: “Historic Fort Steuben was reconstructed to make the past come alive for us moderns, to help us appreciate the blessings we have as well as the lessons we should have learned. Our history is filled with stories of heroes but also of scoundrels, of good deeds as well as horrendous betrayals. As a historic site, our mission is to help visitors put those stories in context and to perhaps see the past with a new perspective, one that would aid in understanding the present and guide in future decisions.” That still holds true and continues to be our mission. Your support in the coming year is critical for that mission to be successful. Please become a member or renew your membership for 2018 so we can continue “Keeping History Alive!”


In the next few weeks, we will be sending out annual membership requests. Membership is an important part of our annual budget, but – even more – it is a way we know that our efforts are supported and appreciated. It’s easy to become a member by mail or on our website, Historic Fort Steuben has become an essential educational, historical and cultural resource for the community as well as a destination for travelers. Visitors have given high praise for our displays, guides and programs. It also has been a spark for economic development. But we could not do it all without you! Please “Support Your Fort” by renewing or signing up for 2018 membership.


The winter of 1786-87 proved to be very cold and snowy for the soldiers at Fort Steuben. The four blockhouses and two officer’s houses had been finished by Nov. 4 but due to the weather, the outer defense work had to wait. Quartermaster John Matthew’s diary noted 2½ feet of snow by Dec. 5 and worse storms came towards the end of the month. But with the new year came a January thaw which allowed the men to cut and erect the pickets and construct the gates including the one facing the river with a guardhouse above it. By January 8, Fort Steuben was completed. “If we subtract the days that were prevented to work by the badness of the weather,” Commander Hamtramck wrote, “this Fort was built in 33 days.”


The schedule for the 2018 events and programs at Historic Fort Steuben will soon be posted on the website as well as in your January membership newsletter. Watch for news about our Spring Quilt Show, Summer Concert Series and Ohio Valley Frontier Days.

If you are planning a reunion or organization outing, think about including Historic Fort Steuben in your plans. We also can schedule Mural Tours and Downtown History Tours. The Trolley won’t be available for tours until June.

School and youth groups can arrange to tour the Fort at the end of April (if the snow has melted by then) and can include a craft or game in their visit.

For more information, feel free to call us at 740-283-1787.


We are looking for volunteers who enjoy meeting people and telling the stories of the Fort. We train our volunteers to interpret the exhibits for visitors, so they have a better understanding of this period of history. Interpreters are crucial for making a tour of the Fort truly come alive. If you or someone you know is interested in giving a few hours a month, please contact us!


Remember, the Museum Shop is your resource for books, maps, and charts on local and American history as well as locally produced crafts and products. Honey from Buena Vista Honey Farms, fudge from Renee’s Confections, hats, scarfs, mitts and blankets by Knit for Ewe, and nutcracker souvenirs from Nelson’s of Steubenville are all in stock. Copies of the US Constitution, information on Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery as well as books on Steubenville, Yellow Creek and the Native Americans who once inhabited the area are on our shelves. We have an excellent selection of souvenirs, post cards, and Steubenville gifts. We still have some of the clever “Advice from…” sweatshirts ($18) and the 2017 festival tee shirts are on sale for $5. Stop in and browse!


We are still amazed at the success of the 2017 Nutcracker Village. From Nov. 21 when the event began all the way to the end of December, thousands of people from near and far and in all kinds of weather have visited Fort Steuben Park and the Visitor Center to see 150 unique Nutcrackers, all designed and fabricated by the creative team at Nelson’s of Steubenville.

The excitement started with Steubenville Lights Up the Night with the 30’ Christmas tree with the model train chugging around it, the new 22’ Christmas tree, a spectacular fireworks show and entertainment by the Brenda Casey Dance Studio. The Steubenville City Council’s Beautification Committee gave out hot dogs, drinks and treats. The fun continued Dec. 9 when the Nutcracker Magic Parade drew hundreds of people to see more than 90 colorful and musical units.

Over the six-week period, we counted over 20,000 who entered the Visitor Center; thousands more came to see the Nutcrackers arrayed in the park while the building was closed. Twenty vendors sold a variety of wares on the weekends of the Advent Market while music, hayrides and Holly Trolley rides added to the excitement. St. Nicholas strolled among the guests giving candy canes and offering great photo ops!

Inside the Visitor Center, the lobby was adorned with Nutcracker coloring pages by local school children. The Christmas Wonderland featured a Christmas village, a beautiful antique Nativity, a huge doll house, electric trains, a Nutcracker Christmas Tree, and many toys and decorations from yesteryear. A military exhibit drew much praise as well. Probably the most popular stop was the Letters to Santa table where youngsters not only listed their gift requests but also shared their hearts, their prayers and their hopes for the future.

The 2017 Village was larger and brighter than the past thanks to the additional lighted hoops courtesy of M&M Hardware and DiGregory’s Greenhouse. The First Federal Land Office welcomed guests to an 1840’s Christmas. The second season of the original musical, “Wooden Heart Follies,” was presented four Sundays to an appreciative audience. The Grand Theater and the Jefferson County Historical Museum and several churches offered tours.

Certainly, the highlight of it all was the incredibly creative array of Nutcrackers themselves. Kudos to Thérèse Nelson and the crew at Nelson’s of Steubenville for the imagination and skill and energy to develop this wonderful attraction.

None of it would have been possible without the financial and volunteer support of dozens of businesses, organizations and individuals. We are particularly grateful to Trinity Health System for being a presenting sponsor. Our media support came from WTOV which made sure that everyone within broadcast range knew about the event. M&M True Value, Tri-State Printing, Herald Star, Franciscan University, the Center of Music & Art, Tri-State Financial Services, Comcast, Ohio Valley Audio, General Rental, the Hindman Family, the City of Steubenville and so many more ensured that the lights would be lit and the music would play and everyone would have a magical holiday experience. We mustn’t forget the hundreds of visitors who took “selfies” and then posted them on Facebook, drawing even more attendees.

The Steubenville Nutcracker Village continued to top several lists of the best Christmas attractions in the state. Anyone who went to saw a photo from our event heading the page. We were also included in a widely distributed AP press release as one of the holiday highlights in Ohio.

We know this will continue to grow and attract many to our downtown and Historic Fort Steuben. It has been an economic boon to local restaurants and shops, but it has also been a much-needed source of income for the Fort through sales in the Museum Shop.

Thanks to all on the planning committee who truly worked hard and enthusiastically to bring this event to pass. Thanks to those who responded to Suzanne Kresser’s call to volunteer a few hours a week to welcome visitors. Thanks to the Nelson family and crew, the staff and volunteers at Historic Fort Steuben (especially Jerry & Judy Barilla, Mary Snyder, Patrick McLaughlin, and Mary Beth Bauer) and all the folks who contributed to the 2017 Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market. What a great way to end the year!


Jan. 6: Martin Luther King, Jr. Musical Program, Mount Carmel Community Baptist Church, 708 N. Fifth St., Steubenville; 6pm

Jan. 15: Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Celebration & Awards Ceremony, beginning at 9:00 am at MLK Recreation Center and continuing with a memorial march to Steubenville High School, where an essay awards ceremony will be held.

Jan. 20: Volunteer Orientation Class, Jefferson County Humane Society & Animal Shelter, 200 Airport Drive, Wintersville; 9am-12pm; Pre-Registration is REQUIRED - Please call the Shelter to reserve a spot in our next class - 740-314-5583

Jan. 21: Bob Smiley "Laugh Out Loud" Comedy Concert, sponsored by Valley Youth Network, the event is free of charge and is open to everyone! No tickets needed just show up. Get there early if you want a good seat. Sycamore Center, 301 N. 4th St. 6:00pm. Call or text Bobbyjon at 608-556-3068 if you have any questions.

Jan. 28: Sparkling Moments Bridal Show, presented by Herald Star & Daily Times,St. Florian Hall

286 Luray Dr., Wintersville, 11:30 am - 3:00 pm;Champagne Luncheon, Vendors, Door Prizes, Taste Testing, Goody Bags, and Grand Prize Honeymoon Trip.Free admission for brides / Guests $10 (Includes Luncheon)For Tickets: 740.283.4711;Brides Pre-Register by calling Diana at 740.283.4711.

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