Which States Border Ohio?

"Welcome to Ohio" sign.
"Welcome to Ohio" sign.

Ohio is a state in the American midwest. The first people to have ever lived within Ohio’s borders were nomadic communities that arrived in the area in 13,000 BCE. Ohio was later home to several Native American communities including the Adena and the Maliseet. Ohio borders Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky.


Ohio shares part of its eastern border with Pennsylvania. The entire border between Ohio and Pennsylvania follows a relatively straight line. The borderline is locally referred to as the Ellicott Line. This name was chosen in honor of Andrew Ellicott who led a team to survey the Pennsylvania-Ohio boundary in 1786. One of the rivers that flow across the boundary between Ohio and Pennsylvania is the Mahoning River which runs for roughly 113 miles and drains an area of 1,132 square miles. The Pymatuning Reservoir is another famous feature along the boundary between Ohio and Pennsylvania. 


Ohio shares its entire western boundary with Indiana. The boundary between Ohio and Indiana follows a relatively straight line for its entire length. Maumee River forms part of the boundary between the two states. This river flows for roughly 137 miles and drains in the area of 6,354 square miles. The Maumee River flows into Lake Erie and provides roughly 5% of the lake's water. Several cities are located on the Indiana side of the border such as Portland and Bryant. Celina and Greenville are some of the cities located on the Ohio side of the border.

West Virginia

The boundary that separates West Virginia and Ohio is located on the southeastern edge of Ohio. The border meanders, following the path of the Ohio River. In 1609, King James I issued a grant that ended up placing the Ohio River under the control of West Virginia, known as Virginia at the time. In 1803, after Ohio’s admission to the union as a state, leaders sought more control over the Ohio River as they considered it a vital economic resource. They presented the issue to the Supreme Court and explained that their understanding was that the boundary should have been located in the middle of the river. The Supreme Court decided that since the Ohio River was initially under Virginia’s control, it would remain under its jurisdiction.


Kentucky and Ohio are separated by a border located in the southern edge of Ohio. The Ohio River forms the major part of the boundary between the two states and has led to controversial border issues. In the late 1970s, the dispute was presented to the Supreme Court for resolution. The court ruled that the boundary between the two states was marked by the 1792 low-water mark situated on the northern edge of Ohio River. The court also decided that the states were responsible for determining the exact position of the border. The states utilized data collected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine the exact position of the border leading to the end of the dispute. In 1872, a bridge that linked Ohio to Kentucky was officially opened. Known as the Purple People Bridge today, this bridge built over the Ohio River stretches 2,670 feet long.


Michigan and Ohio are separated by a border that is located on Ohio’s northern edge. Lake Erie forms part of the border between the two states. In 1835, a bloodless boundary dispute arose as both Michigan and Ohio claimed control over an area of 468 square miles that was later named the Toledo Strip. Historians believe that the dispute was made worse by poor understanding of the geography of the Great Lakes. The dispute got worse when Michigan petitioned Congress to recognize it as a state and both Michigan and Ohio began passing laws in an attempt to make the other give up its claim to the area. Ohio and Michigan also sent militias to the area to defend their claim to the area. In 1836, Congress requested the leaders of Michigan to give up their claim to the Toledo Strip in exchange for the Upper Peninsula and official recognition as a state.


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