In 1992, the Portsmouth Wall of Fame was introduced by the city. The Wall of Fame honors the accomplishments of people from the area by placing stars on the floodwall. Located on the riverside of the wall, these can be seen by passengers driving down U.S. Route 23 in South Shore, Kentucky.
That same year, Dr. Louis R. Chaboudy headed a nonprofit group that was formed to make the floodwall a tourist attraction. A year later in 1993, Robert Dafford, a mural artist, was hired to begin painting murals of Portsmouth’s history. Herb Roe, a local art student, was hired by Dafford to be his assistant. Roe then became Dafford’s apprentice and worked with him for fifteen years. The flood wall was completed in the October of 2002, with over 52 murals illustrating 2,000 years of history to the local area. The mural stretches 2,000 feet along Front Street and is walking distance from Shawnee State University.
The murals cover the history of the Portsmouth area. Viewing from the left to the right, the mural displays the growth and development of the Scioto River Area in a timeline. It begins with the local Native American history, namely the Mound Builders, and the Shawnee Tribe. It then illustrates the small town of Alexandria, Portsmouth's predecessor which was flooded due to the rising river levels. From there the mural displays images significant to early development of the City of Portsmouth: Henry Massie's official founding of the city, the influence of the Kinney Family (whose original home titled The 1810 House is now a local history museum), the early Boneyfiddle shopping district, and more. There are several murals dedicated to our local veterans, police and firemen, churches, and businesses. There are also images depicting the development of technology as it was first introduced to Southern Ohio, such as the automobile.
Important individuals were also given their own unique murals along the floodwall. One such individual is Roy Rogers. Also known as King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers was a radio singer/yodeler who grew up locally, and starred in over 93 films. Another individual who has been immortalized on the Portsmouth Floodwall is Branch Rickey, who signed baseball legend Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
Indeed, the Portsmouth Floodwalls are a beautiful historical landmark and resource for learning more about the city's own history. It is no wonder that Portsmouth's citizens are so proud of the murals, as it is a showcase of how the city has grown and developed for over centuries. Even now, the murals continue to expand throughout the city, using art to convey the history of Portsmouth.