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History in our own Back Yard

The Roebling Murals in Covington, Kentucky

By Kathy Cummings  Photos by Jim Cummings


It was the site of the first mural of a massive herd of buffalo that first caught our attention.

The murals stretch 20 feet along the river front in Covington, Kentucky. Each one has a year on the top arch and a title along with the sponsors underneath it.

If the first mural hadn’t hooked us the second one surely would have. Titled Meeting at the Point is depicts General George Rogers Clark mustering troops along the Licking River where it meets the Ohio. This depiction is dated 1782 and was Clark’s second expedition into the Ohio Country.

In early November just months after the fateful Battle of Blue Licks, Clark convened “The Meeting at the Point.”

Although General Clark was not present at the Blue Licks many, including Daniel Boone placed much of the blame on Clark as head of the military in Kentucky. Over 70 major figures in Kentucky were killed in that British/Indian ambush on August 17, 1872.


Clark closed the two major roads in and out of Kentucky and called up the militia. Present were many of the notable names of Kentucky. Daniel Boone and Benjamin Logan arrived by way of Bryan’s Station tracing nearly the same route they had traveled to the Blue Licks. Simon Kenton was there as was John Floyd. The artist Robert Dafford and those involved did their historical research when creating this mural.


Clark took his troops from Kentucky and followed the Great Miami River into Indian territory. He had 1,050 men and two small field pieces. Similar to the expedition of 1780 Clark’s men traveled to several Indian towns destroying and burning. Unlike the earlier expedition there were no crops left in the fields but some had been harvested and stored and these they burned.

Although the Revolution had ended in the east in 1781 with the surrender of Cornwallis, settlers in Kentucky had seen no end to their Indian troubles. Now, though, by the spring of 1783, Clark began to believe that this might be a lasting peace. He was 30 years old and the most important part of his career was already behind him. Only one more military foray remained for him.

A Detailed look at the above Murals

More Murals


Kennedy’s Ferry in 1806.

There are still 10 operating ferries in Kentucky today and 3 of them operate on the Ohio River.


Crossing from Kentucky into Ohio was a well known route for fleeing slaves in 1856. Kentucky was a slave-holding sate while Ohio was a non slave state. The origins of the underground railroad are not known, but thousands fled the south on their way to Canada.


1862 Pontoon Bridge.

After the Battle of Richmond on August 29 and 30, 1862 Confederate troops were free to advance into Northern Kentucky. Getting more Union Soldiers into Kentucky for it’s defense was a major problem. Ferries were too slow to move large amounts of troops. A Pontoon bridge ( a bridge that floats on water and is made with  barges or boats supporting the bridge deck) was constructed to move troops. The bridge was such a novelty that newspapers of the time reported that civilians including many women showed up on the river front begging to cross the bridge. It lasted across the Ohio from September until November 7 when it was dismantled according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.



The Roebling Suspension Bridge is still in use today and these murals are placed along the Covington Floodwall and can be seen by drivers coming across the bridge.

Shortly after the Civil War ended The Roebling Suspension bridge spanned the Ohio and was opened in January 1867. The project had begun in 1856 but had run into economic hard times and then the Civil War halted construction for several years.

John A. Roebling had begun to construct wire cable suspension bridges that had been first developed in France. But the Cincinnati/Covington Bridge was to be larger than any that had been previously built. The need for the suspension style construction was determined so as not to limit any river traffic. After the successful construction of the bridge, Roebling was hired to build the Brooklyn Bridge (an even larger span) in New York.


Henry Farney is most known for capturing the life of the American Indian. His family emigrated from France to Pennsylvania where young Farney was exposed to a Seneca Reservation. Later the family moved to Cincinnati where he began to paint. Farney studied in Europe before returning to the United State where he began traveling the west for his subject matter.

Frank Duvenck was born in Covington. After beginning his painting career he studied in Europe, achieved his fame there and married one of his students. His young wife died of pneumonia and Duvenek returned to Covington where he continued to paint, teach and led a somewhat reclusive life.


Daniel Carter Beard was an American illustrator, author, youth leader, and social reformer who founded the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1905, which he later merged with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). He spent his youth living in Covington, Kentucky near the Licking River, where he learned the stories of Kentucky pioneer life.


The 1937 flood was one of the worst Ohio River floods on record. The waters began to rise in late January and February 1937. With damage stretching from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois, one million people were left homeless, with 385 dead and property losses reaching $500 million. Federal and state resources were strained to aid recovery, as the disaster occurred during the depths of the Great Depression. Learn more about the 1937 flood in our feature on The Behringer Crawford Museum.


Tall Stacks was a riverboat festival that took place every few years in Cincinnati from 1995 - through 2006. Riverboats came from across the country to participate in the event. 2003 was the highlight of the festival with over 900,000 people attending.

To read more about the 2003 event - click here.


To see more detailed close up of the murals - click here.

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