The Ohio River is said to be one of the largest of U.S. rivers in terms of its volume, and is said to be surpassing many others, worth mentioning alongside the mighty Mississippi River. A tributary of the Mississippi, the Ohio is even larger than the Mississippi at the point it drains into the latter. The Ohio River forms its stream in the westward direction and flows from the area near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where it is formed by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela River, towards Cairo, Illinois where it drains into the Mississippi River. The Ohio River is seen to be spanning a length of almost 1,000 miles and flows through the United States of America. It is even even more impressively noted that the Ohio River drains an area of almost 190,000 square miles in the country. In so doing, the Ohio flows through some six states in the country, and its drainage basin includes 15 states in totality.
The historical role of this river is that it carries great significance for the American people, as it has played a greater role in the country than just carrying its waters. The waters of the Ohio have been used for transportation and for trading purposes for centuries, and helped in connecting various Native American and, later, white settler communities. The natives living near the Ohio River included the Osage, Ponca, and Kaw tribes, though these had to leave the area under the pressure of the more dominant Iroquois. This river also serves as a western extension for the Mason-Dixon Line, and the southern boundary line for the former Northwest Territory in the country. The early settlement near the river line was considered to be of Indians and the explorers who throng the area, and were known as Allegheny. The first European explorers who visited the area beyond the Allegheny and first witnessed the Ohio River were Rene-Robert Cavelier and Sieur de la Salle, leaders of French trading expeditions of the mid-17th Century.
The Oho River also continues to play an important role in today’s time, as it is a source of clean drinking water for approximately 3 million people in the region. Some 20 dams were built on the Ohio River over the years, many of which were to some degree constructed and managed by the United States Army Corps of Engineering. Today, the movement of vessels and ships on the river, which are carrying coal, oil, steel, and petroleum, are given passage by the 13 dams. The Ohio River basin is said to be one of the most populated and industrial region of all of the United States of America.
Habitat and Biodiversity
The Ohio River also has a rich habitat in and along its basin where large numbers of people live as well. In fact, the Ohio River Basin's wildlife has approximately 25 million human neighbors living in this same area. The banks of the Ohio River also have a reserve of hardwood forest areas near its basin. There are many species of fish found here, including the Buffalo fishes, Carps, and Catfishes, which are among the most often seen in the waters of the area. One can also find some 50 rare species of mussels in the river. Even the riverbed itself is said to be home to other bottom-feeding fishes like Drums, White basses, and Black basses.
Environmental Threats and Territorial Disputes
Not only does the Ohio River forms a great area for recreation, but, due to this, it is also facing some major ongoing threats as well, and one of them is due to the disposal of waste in the area. Thus, certain mussels and other species are at the verge of extinction amidst the polluted waters. The commercial route which is being followed by the people is also in danger, as the water level is always changing its flow, making it somewhat unpredictable for those wishing to navigate its course.